For Immediate Release: January 23, 2014
GROUPS LAUNCH TWO NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS
HIGH BURNUP NUCLEAR FUEL: Pushing the Safety Envelope
MAKE RADIATION VISIBLE
Organizations from across the country are kicking off two campaigns in Washington DC this week, calling on congress and regulatory agencies to address growing nuclear power hazards: the dangers of hotter-than-ever radioactive waste being generated in US nuclear reactors, and the routine, invisible-yet-harmful radioactivity released from every nuclear power reactor.
The ﬁrst, HIGH BURNUP NUCLEAR FUEL: Pushing the Safety Envelope, led by Dr. Marvin Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates [VT], a renowned radioactive waste specialist and nuclear physicist, will bring awareness to the extra-hazardous high level radioactive waste referred to as High Burnup Fuel (HBF) – nuclear fuel that is used for longer than originally designed for and which has led to fuel failures and leaks in nuclear plants across the country and even greater storage and transport challenges. Resnikoff cautions that the policy of burning fuels longer to improve proﬁts was accepted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) without adequate scientiﬁc evaluation or public knowledge. The consequences include zirconium fuel cladding corrosion in storage pools and dry storage casks. He cautions the continuance of this policy may be endangering public safety. ‘Burning’ longer in the reactors means the nuclear fuel becomes even more adioactive, as much as doubling its heat and radioactivity. The group declares nuclear fuel casings were not designed for this added stress. The resulting corrosion and cracks are allowing leaks and putting citizens at reactors and along transportation routes at risk. Dr. Resnikoff says, “My concern is the NRC is running an experiment in the ﬁeld, increasing the transportation and disposal risk.”
The second campaign calls for steps to MAKE RADIATION VISIBLE. A group of concerned citizens in the Tennessee Valley, Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation (MATRR), is proposing a plan to reveal these invisible toxins. First, they call on the NRC to upgrade monitoring rules, replacing outdated quarterly averaging currently reported only once a year with real-time online data about radiation levels around nuclear power plants. Second, just like odor markers for natural gas and propane, they call for ﬂorescent dyes to be dispersed with emergency radiation plumes, providing immediate warning about where the radioactive releases are traveling – which could be a critical life-saver for the public and ﬁrst-responders. Third, they call for public health alerts when these known carcinogens and mutagens are released into the environment. Says the MATRR group’s co-founder, Gretel Johnston, “We have weather alerts, smog alerts, and even pollen alerts – why not radioactivity alerts when these poisons are both routinely and accidentally released into our air and water? We are alerted to other hazardous substance spills, why not radiation alerts?”
The committee was organized by long-time nuclear activists Gene Stone, founder of Residents Organized For a Safe Environment (ROSE), and Priscilla Star, founder of Coalition Against Nukes. Among the groups meeting with NRC Commissioners, EPA radiation specialists, and other government ofﬁcials this week are the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Bellefonte Efﬁciency and Sustainability Team / Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation (BEST/MATRR), and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.