September 27, 2011 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced plans to hold public meetings in 3 states to discuss long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, including one in Illinois.
Currently, the U.S. has no permanent storage facilities for high-level nuclear waste; therefore commercial high-level waste (spent fuel) is in temporary storage, mainly at nuclear power plants. The nuclear waste keeps piling up, and politicians on both sides have been accused of playing politics, endangering the lives of American citizens.
Since 9/11, reports have evidenced that the threat of nuclear disaster is real and nothing is standing between a determined terrorist and the nuclear weapons materials inside of U.S. nuclear plants. Nuclear threats have been largely ignored by the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies until the Japan’s nuclear disaster in March 2011.
Illinois has the largest number of nuclear reactors – a total of eleven which means the largest amount of radioactive waste.
The Illinois NRC public meeting is scheduled for October 4, and will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oakbrook Terrace from 9:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. According to the NRC, the meetings are intended to inform and engage the public on the agency’s plans to tackle the serious and highly controversial issue of how to store spent fuel, and plans to develop a draft environmental impact statement for an update of the NRC’s waste confidence decision and rule.
Nuclear watchdog groups say the Vermont experience is a well know style of communication between regulator and regulated that cuts out the public and even state regulators trying to track leaks of tritium, a radioactive form of water linked with cancer when ingested in high amounts.
A spokeswoman at the NRC confirmed the agency routinely sees industry reports that are not published on its public web site.
“We don’t take possession of them so you can’t get them from us,” said Diane Screnci, spokeswoman for the NRC.
Michael Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes says the NRC has shown a pattern of making public access to information more difficult.
In an interview in July, Keegan told The Daily Herald that the already difficult-to-navigate NRC online documents service was recently redesigned, making navigation even more difficult. “The NRC uses company claims of proprietary information, security concerns and exceptions to limit access,” said Keegan.
In the official MEMORANDUM to stakeholders, dated September 20, 2011 it states:
“This is a Category 3 Meeting. The public is invited to participate in the meeting by providing comments and asking questions throughout the meeting. The NRC’s Policy Statement, “Enhancing Public Participation on NRC Meetings,” effective May 28, 2002, applies to this meeting. The policy statement may be found on the NRC website, www.nrc.gov and contains information regarding visitors and security.”
Note: An attempt was made on Tuesday afternoon to contact the NRC to clarify and confirm the extent to which the public would be allowed participate at the October 4 public meeting. The phone number listed for the event’s contact, V. Sreenivas rings – however, no one picked up the line and oddly there was not a voicemail.