OPINION: Don't weaken radioactive waste rules. Any rule changes should be more protective, not less

Updated 4 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Diane D'Arrigo
Radioactive Waste Project Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Nuclear power generates more than 95% of the radioactivity buried at commercial radioactive waste dumps in the U.S. Some of that waste stays dangerous for literally millions of years.

All of the six "first generation" "low-level" radioactive waste dumps that opened in the 1960s have leaked; some are still leaking. Operating dumps currently are open in UT, TX, SC and WA. In addition, a lot of nuclear waste is processed in Tennessee and then sent on to those states. The NRC is proposing a rule change that would apply to these operating sites as well as any new dumps.

These weakened rules would let the public be exposed to a lot more radioactivity than is currently allowed by adopting the "updated" radiation regimen called EDE (Effective Dose Equivalent (EDE) allows more radioactivity per millirem for many radionuclides; we opposed this when NCR adopted it in other parts of its regulations and oppose incorporating it here for the same reasons). Allowable doses to the public would be raised from the existing 25 millirems a year to 25, 100, 500 or more millirems EDE per year. Of course, the NRC continues to ignore resarch that shows radiation causes even more cancer and cancer deaths in women and children than men and threatens the reproductive phase of our life-cycle.

The proposed rule is now up for public comment. Tell the NRC that its proposal is unacceptable; if there are to be any changes to radioactive waste rules, it should be to make them more protective of human health and the environment, not less so. Send your comments here.

Under the proposal, dump operators could accept and bury just about any kind of nuclear waste that they want simply by doing a computer-model "performance assessment" and then claiming it's safe. The same entities that would profit by expanding their waste streams would do their own calculations to claim they can be safely managed for millions of years!
The NRC’s proposed rules would open the door for large amounts of atomic waste like depleted uranium, waste from reprocessing, and other "unique" waste streams to be buried in shallow pits, ditches, trenches for 1000 years and more.

NRC also wants to prevent states from setting their own stricter standards, even though states usually end up with the liability from nuclear waste sites.

And once again the NRC is attempting to deregulate nuclear waste, this time by "exempting" it from regulatory control--despite public outcries against that concept for decades.

Tell the NRC: no radioactive waste deregulation. Any rules changes should lead to more protective standards, not increased radiation exposures.


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