California & Nevada
Face Serious Radiation Risk
From Scott D Portzline <>
CARSON CITY, NV (BUSINESS WIRE) -Southern California could be heavily impacted if the federal government is successful in constructing a disposal facility for spent nuclear reactor fuel and other high-level radioactive wastes 100 miles north of Las Vegas.
That is the conclusion of a review by the State of Nevada commenting of the U. S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The Nevada review also found DOE intentionally hid from the public the proposed highway and rail routes that would be used in shipping waste to Yucca Mountain.
The Draft EIS, which is the subject of a public hearing in San Bernardino, California Tuesday, February 22, contains no information on what routes will be used or what communities will be affected. Bob Loux, Executive Director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, the State's Yucca Mountain watchdog agency, notes that the omission seems intentional.
``DOE clearly knows the highway and rail routes to be used for waste shipments,'' Loux said. ``In fact, that information is buried in reference materials used to put the Draft EIS together. The fact that these routes are not made explicit in the document can only be seen as an attempt by DOE to keep people ignorant of the impacts and risks and suppress public involvement in the program outside Nevada for political purposes.''
During a 24 to 39 year period, there would be between 50,000 and 96,000 truck shipments of deadly radioactive materials nationwide, an average of 2,000 to 2,500 per year. Under various scenarios, there would also be between 11,000 and 20,000 rail shipments, averaging 460 to 510 per year. Because of the geography of the nation's rail and interstate highway systems, large metropolitan areas, such as the greater Los Angeles area, will be directly impacted.
``At first glance, DOE's transportation scenarios can be bewildering, perhaps intentionally so,'' observed Loux. ``The bottom line is that, under any credible scenario, spent nuclear fuel shipments will be a daily occurrence in southern California for the next four decades.''
In its review of DOE's draft EIS, the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects found that:
-- Under the DOE's least impacting scenario, between 1,400 and 2,500 rail shipments of spent nuclear fuel would pass through southern California. Additionally, 2,900 rail shipments of defense high-level radioactive waste could pass through northern California. There would be an average of one to two rail shipments per week every week through California for 39 years.
-- Under DOE's transportation scenario where all of the spent fuel and most of the high-level waste are shipped by truck, a minimum of 6,100 to 12,900 shipments would impact the southern California area, an average of one truckload per day every day for 24 to 39 years. Under DOE's preferred routing, truck shipments from California reactors enter the Los Angeles basin on I-5, I-10, I-210 and I-605. Shipments from other states enter California on I-10 and I-40 from Arizona. The three streams of shipments converge on I-15 at San Bernardino and at Barstow. Maps showing nuclear waste shipping routes are attached as files and can also be found on the web at: and
-- DOE evaluated six alternative highway routing options. Three of the six alternates would route all 96,000 truck shipments to Yucca Mountain through southern California. Under these three scenarios, there would be five to seven truck shipments through southern California every day for 24 to 39 years.
-- Under any of these scenarios, the number of shipments through southern California will substantially exceed the total number of such shipments nationally during the entire history of the U.S. Nuclear power industry.
-- State of Nevada consultants prepared an independent analysis of DOE's shipment numbers, assuming that each reactor ships by truck or by rail according to its current capabilities, and assuming that shipments use consolidated cross country routes to minimize adverse impacts and facilitate emergency response planning and training. Nevada's analysis concludes that the maximum credible number of shipments through southern California would be 26,400 truck shipments and 9,800 rail shipments over 39 years, a combined average of 2.5 shipments per day.
-- Studies by the State of Nevada indicate:
-- DOE misrepresented the radiological hazards of the spent fuel that would be transported, using reference fuel that is less radioactive than fuel types which will actually be shipped to the repository; -- DOE grossly underestimated routine radiological exposures along highway routes in Nevada; -- DOE significantly understated the consequences of severe transportation accidents and successful terrorist attacks resulting in release of radioactive materials; -- DOE ignored the economic impacts of cleaning up after severe accidents and terrorist attacks; -- DOE completely ignored the social and economic impacts of public perception of transportation risks including adverse impacts on property values and business activities along shipping corridors.
The DOE public hearing on the Draft Yucca Mountain EIS is scheduled to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on February 22 at the Radisson Hotel, 295 North E Street, in the city of San Bernardino.
Nuclear waste transportation expert Robert J. Halstead will be available for media interviews before, during, and after the hearing. Halstead can be reached at 909/381-6181 on the day of the hearing, or at the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects 775/687-3744.
Contact: State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects Robert J. Halstead, 775/687-3744


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