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Fri Dec 21, 2012, 04:35 PM

30 years ago today, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act was passed

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/radioactive-waste-whatsnew/2012/12/21/30-years-ago-today-the-nuclear-waste-policy-act-was-passed.html

30 years ago today, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act was passed

As the U.S. Congress currently debates (or rather, doesn't debate) the infamous "Fiscal Cliff," it took the country off a bottomless cliff 30 years ago today, by passing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. The NWPA shifted liability for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, from the utilities which generated it (and profited mightily thereby), to the American people: first, ratepayers have paid tens of billions of dollars in nuclear generated electricity surcharges, into the Nuclear Waste Fund; then, when that still falls short of the price tag, taxpayers will be left holding the bag for the rest.

As written by John D'Agata in his 2010 book About a Mountain:

"...On November 22, 1982, Senator James McClure (Republican from Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bill that was written by the American Nuclear Energy Council (now called the Nuclear Energy Institute) calling for the disposal of nuclear waste...He pushed his bill through committee in an hour and a half, then sent it to the floor for an expedited vote.

<snip>

President Ronald Reagan then signed the NWPA into law early the next year. That "expedited vote," Reagan's stroke of the pen in the Oval Office, and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) rushed signing of contracts to "take out the garbage," represented an unprecedented subsidy for the nuclear power industry. The American taxpayer currently forks over $500 million per year in damages to nuclear utilities for failing to begin disposing of irradiated nuclear fuel in a deep geologic repository in 1998. That liability grew worse, when George W. Bush's DOE signed yet more contracts -- for proposed new reactors -- in the waning weeks, days, and even hours of the administration (between the day Barack Obama was elected president, and two days after he was sworn into office, DOE hastily signed 21 proposed new reactors' worth of new waste disposal contracts).

<snip>

Rather than rushing into this unnecessarily risky radioactive waste shell game on the roads, rails, and waterways of most states, a coalition of 200 environmental groups has called for hardened on-site storage for the wastes which already exist. And a growing movement is calling for a cessation of generation: "STOP MAKING IT!" As Beyond Nuclear board member, Dr. Judith Johnsrud, has put it, radioactive waste is "trans-solutional." Humankind may very well be unable to solve the problem. The only real solution for radioactive waste is to not make it in the first place.

December 21, 2012

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