Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hanford High-Level Nuclear Waste Import scheme (GNEP) - Tri-City Herald article acknowledges message of WA voters on I-297 is obstacle, now trying... claim no liquid High-Level Wastes

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 13:08:28 -0700

TRIDEC's public relations drumbeat for GNEP at Hanford, including import of Spent Nuclear Fuel and reprocessing... continues in the Tri-City Herald (article below). Note that the article acknowledges Washington's voters overwhelming message of I-297 (cleanup before being allowed to add more waste) stands in way. The claim made that liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste will not be "stored" on site is false -- reprocessing creates liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste. They parse words by claiming they will turn it into a solid. But, Hanford is, at best, 12 years away from being able to prove it can glassify any liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste (and just $8 billion over budget for a plant which will only handle half the volume in Hanford's existing tanks). They can't truck the liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste offsite. So, where will it be vitrified??? Expect them to say they will add another vitrification facility.... while the GNEP national proposal calls for other extremely radioactive solid wastes to be buried onsite, adding to the long-term contamination threat. See fact sheets on the Heart of America Northwest website for detailed citations showing liquid High-level Nuclear Waste results from reprocessing as proposed. Bear in mind that the Tri-City Herald publisher sits on the board and executive committee of TRIDEC, and this is TRIDEC's proposal.

Mark your calendar for Monday, March 26th Hood River Best Western 6PM for the only other hearing on this proposal in the Northwest. That's just one hour away from Portland. The Hotel is visible from I-84 at the 2nd Hood River exit (heading east). Talking points and detailed fact sheets on the wastes that would be imported and produced from GNEP are available at . We have asked that the official Hanford Clean-Up mailing list be mailed notice of the hearing... but, of course, USDOE refuses to do so. So, please forward email and urge your friends and relatives to come... remind them that this involves trucking High-Level Nuclear Waste through Portland and I-84.

Can't attend? Send in your comments today to address at bottom of article (and be sure to ask USDOE to send you a response and to add you to mailing list)!

TRIDEC says Hanford reservation good site for nuclear fuel recycling

Published Saturday, March 17th, 2007 Tri-City Herald


The Hanford nuclear reservation offers many benefits other sites cannot match as it competes to be the home of a nuclear fuel recycling program that could bring 8,000 jobs, a top official of the Tri-City Development Council said Friday. Gary Petersen, vice president for Hanford programs, outlined Hanford's possible role in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at TRIDEC's annual meeting.

TRIDEC won a $1 million grant to study Hanford as the site of a nuclear fuel recycling center and an advanced burner reactor to use the recycled fuel. As part of that grant, Columbia Basin Consulting Group is studying whether Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility could be restarted as part of a GNEP research center.

The Bush administration is proposing the project as a way to reduce the amount of used commercial reactor fuel that must be disposed of and to limit expansion of nuclear weapons by limiting the number of countries that would have to enrich or reprocess nuclear fuel for nuclear power.

At the Tri-City level, the project also could solve a potential economic problem. "Just about the time Hanford is ramping down drastically, this could come on line," Petersen said. Cold War production of plutonium at Hanford and the cleanup of massive contamination left behind have been a key driver for the Tri-City economy. But Hanford jobs should decrease as the site is cleaned up. DOE is projecting that the nuclear fuel recycling center, advanced burner reactor and research center would be in full operation by 2020 to 2025, with some work starting earlier.

Hanford has the advantage of being the only place to have on site an operating commercial nuclear power reactor licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Petersen said. And using the FFTF, a shut-down research reactor, could speed up the project by many years, he said.

The site also has on DOE land much of the infrastructure the project needs, including lay-down yards for the fuel; buildings built for previous nuclear projects; a sewage treatment plant; power transmission lines; a training center; and roads, railroads and nearby access for barges, he said.

The decision on whether to go forward with the project and where it would be located is to be made by the energy secretary in June 2008, just months before the presidential election. "There's nothing done in June 2008 that the next energy secretary can't change, so it is very important to have broad bipartisan support," said Mike Lawrence of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, operated by Battelle. Battelle, Areva and Washington Group International are working with TRIDEC on the siting study.

Dealing with concerns about nuclear waste may be an important issue in gaining support. In 2004, Washington voters approved Initiative 297 to bar the Department of Energy from bringing more waste to Hanford until waste already there is cleaned up. Although the initiative was ruled invalid in federal court and remains the subject of legal proceedings, voters made clear what many in the state thought about Hanford waste, including 53 million gallons of liquid and solid radioactive waste stored in underground tanks.

There would be no storage of liquid waste on site under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Lawrence said. One benefit pushed by the Bush administration is that the plant would reduce waste produced by U.S. commercial nuclear reactors by reusing their fuel. Now commercial fuel is used just one time, then stored to eventually be sent to Yucca Mountain, the nation's unopened nuclear repository. Reprocessing would reduce both the toxicity of the waste and also its volume up to 100-fold, Lawrence said. The world might need just five nuclear repositories like Yucca Mountain rather than hundreds, he said.

The recycling process to prepare fuel to be reused would leave excess uranium that would be disposed of or enriched for use again. The process also would separate out some shorter-lived radioactive isotopes such as cesium and strontium that would lose their radioactivity over hundreds rather than thousands of years. All secondary waste from the project would be turned into a solid, Lawrence said. DOE is continuing to take comments on its environmental study of the project. They may be sent until April 4 to Timothy Frazier, GNEP PEIS Document Manager, Office of Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20585-0119, or e-mailed to GNEP-PEIS@nuclear. energy .gov. Mark envelopes and e-mails as "GNEP PEIS Comments."

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