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November 18, 2013

Nuclear is Not The Way

Photo courtesy of Flickr

I hope the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is listening.

Last week, the NRC held one of many public meetings to hear comments on their Waste Confidence Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) and their proposed rule at their headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

The DGEIS seeks to examine the environmental costs of spent nuclear fuel. The rule was originally created in 2010, but in 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that some aspects of the NRC’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements were not met. You can read more about the ruling here.

During the meeting, dozens of concerned citizens spoke about problems associated with nuclear waste. Their testimonies were met with applause when they finished speaking.

“There’s no real justification for the creation of high level radioactive waste,” said Diane D’Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “We’re allowing continued poisoning of our planet.”

“Just because a tsunami is unlikely doesn’t mean a Fukishima can’t happen,” echoed Dr. Gwen DuBois, a member of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and founding member of the Crabshell Alliance. She addressed the possibility that 35 nuclear power plants are at risk if there are sudden dam failures, from storms like Superstorm Sandy which are more likely to occur because of climate disruption, and the need to move spent fuel to less vulnerable areas.

“We need to move beyond nuclear energy,” DuBois continued.

Among those speakers were Sierra Club representatives, ready to stand with their peers and say we need to move beyond nuclear energy and toward a more sustainable future.

“How can we have confidence in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission if you don’t even listen to the most serious findings of your own staff?” asked Linda Seely, from the Sierra Club’s Nuclear Free Campaign.

“All we can do is move the contamination from one place to another,” Seely continued. “They don’t know how to clean up and dispose of nuclear waste except in a superficial manner.”

“Nuclear waste is a problem without a solution, and we really do not have an answer,” said David O’Leary, chair of the Maryland Sierra Club chapter. “We need to not continue with publishing a rule that enables producing more of this waste.”

“We impale in future of our descendents, and we do this, my god, to boil water,” DuBois said. “We need to transition out of nuclear and out of coal, and into efficiency, solar and wind.”

In short, nuclear energy and the waste it produces threatens our safety, our environment, and our health.

A schedule of future public comment sessions can be found here. Comments can be submitted until December 20.

--Cindy Carr, Sierra Club Media Team

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