Consent Based Siting of Nuclear Waste

“The risks that are caused and the risks that are caused and the dangers from these materials literally go on for thousands of generations.”

The U.S. Department of Energy will host a meeting in Denver on Tuesday May 24th which is the fourth of eight public meetings around the country to help design a consent-based siting process for facilities to manage nuclear waste.

The DOE says these meetings are intended to allow the public, communities, states, Tribal Nations and others to provide input that will inform the Department’s thinking as it develops this process.  The nuclear waste is coming from existing nuclear weapons manufacturing facilities and from commercial nuclear energy sites.

One of the speakers in Denver is Don Hancock with the Southwest Research Information Center, a non profit based in Albuquerque New Mexico which works on a variety of environmental health and environmental justice issues.  Hancock  says that if communities were to have all the information on the dangers of nuclear waste, it is highly unlikely that any community would give consent.

“The reason that we are at the place where we are where there are none of these permanent disposal facilities is because no community has in fact agreed historically to do it and I think that it is highly unlikely that any community really wants to do it and I think for decades to come what’s going to happen is this commercial spent fuel is going to stay at the commercial nuclear power plant sites and until we deal with these problems of how much irradiated fuel are commercial power plants going to generate, how much military waste is going to be created, I think that yes, it is going to be difficult to have anyone consent, because of the dangers and because the danger is not just for one or two generations of people, in other words, it’s not for us and our kids and our grand-kids, the risks that are caused and the risks that are caused and the dangers from these materials literally go on for thousands of generations…the time frames that we are talking about are totally unimaginable because they are longer than any civilization has existed any place in the world.”

Hancock contributed to a recent report: Trillion Dollar Trainwreck: Out-of-control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks put out by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.  The report outlines how The United States plans to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize” all aspects of its nuclear arsenal: the bombs and warheads, the production facilities, the delivery systems, and command and control systems.  Hancock says the US government has done a terrible job of dealing with nuclear waste and is concerned about what will happen to possible future waste as a result of this trillion dollar investment. “A new generation of nuclear bombs will of course create further generations of nuclear waste that again, there’s no place to go, and again at these meetings that the Department of Energy has, they typically don’t like to talk about it unless people in the public do come and talk about it. .”

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The consent-based siting meeting is happening Tuesday May 24th from 4:00 PM – 9:30 PM at the Embassy Suites, ­ 4444 Havana Street in Denver. The meeting is open to the general public.


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