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tv   Nuclear Power Plant Safety  CSPAN  July 17, 2018 11:00pm-12:35am EDT

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-- women's freedom to make decisions about their bodies, the quality of our air and water, and much more will be at risk. >> i cannot think of anybody who is more qualified to serve the supreme court. >> follow the confirmation progress on c-span watch last -- live on in cspan. next, a discussion focusing on the dangers of radioactive waste, hosted by the environmental and energy study institute. >> i want to immediately correct myself and clarify my remarks. if you move tech front, we would like to give priority to them.
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for the rest of us, we are here for the duration. i am the president of the carson counsel. i am a board member of the environmental and energy study institute. we are happy to welcome you all here today. we have an outstanding panel on decommissioning nuclear power plants. those of you in the room know what they are. one of the problems you will see and we will hear from a number of experts here is that this is a problem that was anticipated by the panelist i know. the idea that we might be shutting down upwards of 80 nuclear power plants which are packed with highly radioactive materials that sit in local communities, it affects the economy, health, and is long- range planning that is lacking on what to do with the steel
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rods and other materials. what we are going to be doing is taking a look at what is out there, where they are, why they are dangerous, then we are going to take a look at some of the options for what to do with the which range from on-site to moving them around. our panelists will talk about that. then we have folks from zion, illinois who are wrestling with the problems already of having a closed nuclear power plant in their community. and we also have a leader who will be talking about some of the problems connected to native americans and the rights. >> before i am going to introduce everyone, i am going to start in with one more quick announcement. you can get all the the materials for this briefing at the esi website.
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for those of you who live tweet, there we are at at ees i talk. we are also very happy to be broadcasting on cspan this afternoon and there will also be a webcast that will be available permanently on the website of eesi. tell your friends they can start tuning in, or later on when they are done, you can get all of these materials. i want to begin with laying out an overview and some of the problems with mr. robert bob alvarez. he is one of those who have been following nuclear power plant for a long time. he is the former senior policy advisor and assistant secretary of energy, and has many other credentials. i want to begin
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with mr. bob alvarez, formerly with the department of energy. bob? >> i am recovering from the department of energy. what i'm going to talk about here are mostly pre-disposal issues associated with nuclear power plants. especially the spent fuel aspect of it, which is the most significant long lasting problems facing the closure of power. -- power plant. nuclear power plants have been major large-scale radioactive organizations. after about 60 years, the united states have generated roughly 30% of the total global energy of spent nuclear fuel. there are about 80,150 metric tons at about 125 sites, nine of which are operational. i'm
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concerned about this because of this material which is the most hazardous material on the planet. it is a unique material that is something that was totally new and i thought about until about 19 50 when the united states government began to ponder the subject of what do we do with these wastes. in 1959, abel weldon, university professor at johns hopkins testified before congress the first time to inquire it on the subject, he said their toxicity in general is greater by far than any industrial material in any other country. he said we dispose waste of --
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by actual conversion of the hazardous material. spent fuel is essentially bound up in more than 34,000 long rectangular assemblies containing real rods that entertain -- in turn contain trillions of pallets and they radiate around for about six years. 5 to 6% of that uranium is converted into highly radioactive material. because of these extraordinary hazards, it has been recognized that this fuel should be disposed of or contained. disposal is not the appropriate time, but contained for a period of time of at least
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10,000 to 100,000 years, which transcends the geologic ethics of defining human civilization. this is a slide that was given to me by david kraft. i think it was very useful, about where the paths are right now. one thing that is key is that indefinite storage seems to be the likely commonality as opposed to what will happen as i said, there are major radioactive waste generators. they contain about 43 billion carriers of radioactive material. one way to compare that is how how much radioactivity has been generated by the production of nuclear weapons in the united states. the radioactivity in their high- level waste is 30 time more
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than what has been generated by commercial plants. isotopes and spent fuel is 350 times more that was ever released and the environment. there are about 700 metric tons of plutonium. the global weight of tony is about 350 metric times. 70% of the waste that has been generated is sitting in polls and have been densely compacted. the rest is in july 10 storage. the graph gives you an idea of reactive's. this is so much data, because there are additional reactors to be added. we are looking at more than a quarter of the total spent fuel
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generated by nuclear power plants in this country. we talked a lot about the radioactive hazards of these places. the other principal danger is it gives off tremendous amount of heat and a form of what is called thermal heat. if you pull a full core out of a reactor, at the same time, it gives off enough decay heat to power ace steel mill blaster. it is quite hot. even overtime, the heat remains a problem for about 1200 years when you get into geologic disposal. the heat is so great, it actually destabilizes the
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disposal medium. we got involved with this problem in 2000 to 2003 following the 9/11 attack. my colleagues and i put together a working group and reported that some event that caused events of nuclear power plants it will lead to a catastrophic release of radioactivity that would be far greater than a meltdown. it will be far greater than chernobyl. the nuclear regulatory commission opposed what we had to say. the national academy was called into referee our dispute. they came out with finding in 2005, which the rac attempted to rewrite.
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they agreed and said you have to take this problem seriously. these fuel pools are holding five times more fuel than they are currently allowed. because of that, they were never meant to hold this material longer than five years. now, they are holding it for decades. they don't have the same kind of safety measures that a reactor has. it does not have independent water supply. it does not have his own independent source of electricity. one of the big problems is that a spent fuel pump fire, a couple of years ago my colleague updated their analysis and pointed out if an accident were to occur, a reactor involving a spent fuel pool fire, 8000 people would have to be evacuated, and it will cost 2000 -- $2 trillion.
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one of the problems was spent fuel is that the nuclear regulatory commission has been allowing the reactor operators to irradiate the fuel longer by increasing the amount of uranium from about 3 1/2 to almost 5% in content. what this does is it builds up more radioactivity. this stuff is very hot. the nrc does not have a technical base to support the safe transfer of this material. it is likely to be trapped at the reactor site until we can figure out how to safely move the stuff. what the research is showing is
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that the longer you keep the stuff in a reactor, the more likely a career -- corrodes, it becomes very vulnerable to move , and there is no technical basis in terms of information to tell you of the levels that it is burning out right now whether it is safe for long- term storage or movement. just to give you an idea, 77% of it is burning up. there is a lot of effort to try to push for a storage site. you have legislative initiatives that have been promoted over the last few years to do that. this is easier said than done because we have a basic problem where transportations near reactor sites are variable and
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changing. some of the dry casts out there on are suitable for transport. the pickup and transportation order has not been determined. what you have is build up that is going to clog the system. will the older stuff have priority? well, the older stuff is further away. these are issues that have not been worked out. the high burnout material, which gives off a lot of thermal heat, may result by being trapped for much longer periods than we were led to believe. it could have a major impact, because transportation will certainly involve repackaging of as many as 11,800 disposal canisters. where is the money coming from? under the nuclear waste policy act, the users of nuclear
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generated electricity have money to pay for research and opening of a repository. it does not pay for repackaging of the material and the transportation of the material. there is legislation that has been offered that would allow the doe to assume the title for a pilot program. beware of that, because it can turn into a down payment for a mortgage. we have been looking at expenses that have not been cost out in a regular fashion. to give you an idea of what it will cost to store some of this fuel, it gets up to about $3.8 billion. this is doe numbers.
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>> repackaging is one of the big issues that has not been dealt with. when you shut the reactor style, you remove the infrastructures around. a lot of these dry casts cannot be reopened without some sort of infrastructure. the doe expects a repository to be reopened. if the planets line up, and congress goes along with the licensing process, we will have a river -- ribbon-cutting ceremony. they will be open -- able to open a repository in 2028. you are basically looking at repackaging of 80,000 small canisters.
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you are looking at $1 billion per reactor. i found this to be a very interesting quote. this report should not be taken as any indication of how the doe will perform to obligations. these guys are essentially on their own trying to make things up as they go along. the basic approach needs to be fundamentally revamped. we need to address the former abilities of spent fuel pools. they need to be rapidly thinned out. it will take about 10 years.
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it will cost about 3.5 to $7 billion to do that. that will reduce your hazard to your consequences. instead of waiting for problems to arise, we need to develop a comprehensive roadmap of what the problems are for the public to understand. what are we talking about in terms of storage. how long will it take? how long will it cost? thank you very much. >> thank you bob alvarez. i should mention he is also currently a senior scholar at the institute for policy studies. he will be available for immediate interviews at the conclusion of the session. we have reserved about a half hour for you to quiz our experts
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and we will save questions until all of the panelists are done. next, we have kevin kamps. he is a nuclear waste specialist with the organization beyond nuclear. he also works with a number of other organizations, and has been following these issues for a good deal of time. he is going to talk about some of the difficulties with storage options and also about some alternatives, for those of you who remember bonanza called haas. >> thank you bob. i apologize in advance, i'm going to have to skip some slides. bob has done a great job on the pool risks. i will try to hit the main points during my talk. one is that we oppose the current risky pool storage, but
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the inadequate dry cast storage. that is why we are calling for hardened on-site storage, a significant safety upgrade and security upgrade to dry cast storage. we also oppose the unnecessary high risk shipments through 40 major states, and seven congressional districts that are a part of that plan. i would like to start by pointing out that today is a day of infamy in new mexico and nationwide because of the trinity, kohn blast of 1945. we have a summer -- september
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14 legal intervention deadline. the environmental movement will show up for that deadline. yes, and to the polls and to dry cast storage. we are calling for significant safety and security upgrade, dry cast storage. to give you an idea, and bob already touched on this, if a pool had caught fire, instead of 160,000 nuclear evacuees, there could have been as many as 50 million. that according to the prime minister who was serving at the time that it would have been the end of the japanese state. the pool risks from the united states or greater the risk in japan, because our pools are packed more densely. other risks of pool storage or leakage into groundwater and surface water, as has been going on at indian point, upstream from the hudson in new york city. and also this is also the risk
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of heavy load drop. even the transfer of this has to be done very carefully. we have had near misses in michigan, minnesota, and an vermont. this gives you an idea of what dry cast storage looks like. there have been major issues around the country since dry cast storage began in 1986. this is multiple casted designs and models. this is multiple sites. steel leakage at surrey, virginia, where if you lose the alerting heat transfer medium, the helium gas, you can overheat the nuclear fuel inside. cracking of containers as apollo states in michigan, hydrogen gas generation, explosions and fires at that point beach in wisconsin, the list goes on and on.
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faulty shims as in stanley oakley california recently revealed we had that problem as early as 1994. i mentioned hardened on-site storage. these are the gentlemen who conceived of it and gave it its phraseology. dr. gordon thompson commissioned by citizen awareness network of the northeast wrote a report called robust storage. we have a statement of principles for safeguarding nuclear waste that should be in your packet. i will post this at the br nuclear website with the detailed explanations and links to these documents. we have over 200 groups in all 50 states signed onto these principles. we have been calling for this since 2002 actually. we have been calling for this in the u.s. federal government
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and the nuclear power industry. significant upgrades to safety and security are required. at one point, i would like to mention to prohibit the processing of extracting uranium which is what the vesicle plans to do. some groups helped organize today. thank you for that. on the left, you see a graphic representation of hardened on site storage as compared to the bowling pin dents configuration which is a high security risk if attackers would show up with high attack weapons. some sites are not appropriate for on-site hardened storage, places like perry iowa and minnesota which is the home of the prairie island indian committee and have to go to higher ground. it has to go further inland.
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but not 1000 or 2000 miles on may from new mexico, rather a few miles away from the interim. this will be required no matter what. if you mount were to open today , it would take 50 years to move the waste to these sites. that is 50 years of ongoing on- site risk that should be addressed. the basis of the new mexico centralized interim storage as a quality assurance epidemic going on dating back to the year 2000. we have whistleblower information from industry and nrc that major violations are associated with colfax. this is not been rectified with the nuclear regulatory commission. the whistleblowers pointed out that decisions like this in a space program will lead to space shuttles hitting the ground, and dr. lance will serve as an expert witness for the environmental coalition challenging the interim storage.
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the structural integrity of these containers being questions that at 60 miles per hour on the rails, but at 0 miles per hour in on-site storage. the pools need to be emptied of the contents, but should be retained, in case there is an emergency transfer from old cast to graded cast. the risk of moving this material through 44 states, three 100 urban centers of this country gives you an idea of the layers of protection, but are they robust enough to be your accident. i should point out centralized interim storage will make these much near-term risks. there has been talk that there is a delay for full-scale. why are these sites in the texas new mexico borderlands being targeted? because the attitude is this is a nuclear sacrifice.
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you have a waste dump in texas with a waste control specialist. you have a waste isolation pilot plan in mexico from plutonium from the military disposal. you see a 2015 fire out with from the environment that was supposed to be impossible. this site in texas is near or above the aquaphor. these are not appropriate sites. there are large hispanic communities there. the two sides are within 40 miles of each other. the risks of centralized interim storage is that it becomes permanent. containers could not degrade and release the contents to the side of the planet. even if the waste were to leave, this is multiplying risks unnecessarily. this is a white -- waste of taxpayer money that has to stop. we have a joke about a mutant
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zombie six toes on either foot, and you see a toe twitching. this gives you an idea of all the states impacted by road and rail shipment. this map shows you how intense those shipments are in a state like illinois where most of the shipments are for reactors and other states moving through. as you get further west, especially in utah and nevada, the worst of the transport impact. waste control specialists in texas and mainline rails can be used for the shipments. they only want to look at me the yankee. what about the 120 other reactors in this country. what about those transport risks? a place like fort worth texas would get hit coming and going first out to new mexico, and then up to yucca mountain. an example of how high risk the
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department of energy is willing to undertake liquid radio active shipments for the first time in north american history began last year. there needs to be congressional oversight. we think representative higgins was questioning this high-risk behavior through his state. here is an example of a very risk are barred shipments of high-level waste found on the hudson river past manhattan. this is a department of energy proposal. talk about the security risk. there are many other waterways. there are road and rail shipments through new york. here is right here where we are standing, capitol hill. i live in mount rainier, maryland. there is a train line that will carry waste where i live. if you stand on the metro platform in tacoma park, you can get a gamma and neutron dose as one of these things goes by.
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this is too close for comfort for the high risk of the shipments. the state of nevada reserves a shutout for their analysis of these risks. again these will be posted on the website. study the details of places you care about. if we don't do something about it it will start coming through. an alternative will be these heavy haul trucks which have their own risks. this is our reactor pressure vessel and at northern michigan, they had several incidents in 2003 during this heavy haul truck shipment to get into a railhead and put it on a trip -- train. this is interstate 40 and oklahoma in spring of 2002. the underwater submersion design criteria for these containers is dangerously inadequate. so too, the high temperature long-duration fire risks scenario. in july 2001, underground tunnel fire in downtown baltimore started, and
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radioactive waste management studied these containers. it would have failed at least a fraction of its shipment. it would have cost $14 billion to clean up the mess. these containers are not designed to withstand anti- attack missiles. -- tank muscles. it would be hard to hit one of the shipments with such a 40- year-old weapon system. attackers would probably be trained in their use, and they are designed to hit soviet tanks that go 37 miles per hour. these shipments would slow down in a place like the southside of chicago, and they could be hit. there have been upgrades to these anti-take -- tank weapon
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systems over the decades. these are where the radioactive poisons go if there is a breach of shipping container in different organs and tissues in the body. even if there is not an accident, incident free routine shipment still emanate gamma way neutrons. they cause harm to people nearby. that is wanted two chest x-rays per hour period of the shipment have to be contaminated externally, francis had hundreds of these documented, sometimes 300 times permissible dose rates. the united states has examples documented of this. hr 3053 passed in the house on may 10 and is now over on the senate side. it would increase the allowable amount to be buried at you.
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the licensing proceeding is nonconsent based. it is opposed by the environmental movement of the united states. barred shipments on lake michigan would be put at risk. the drinking water supply would be contaminated for 40 million people down the stream. that is just one of them goes down and leaks. the irony for congressman shimkus is that thousands of shipments from other states with pastor illinois, including on the south and west sides of chicago down to the west. on the senate side you got some energy and water appropriations are more interested in centralized storage. the irony of that is what would that mean if this waste would be rested to transport through the heart of metro la? we are not ready for this.
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nobody even knows about this. transport communities along the corridors do not consent to these risks. we are now closer to 80 years into this mess. we need to stop making it, we need to harden on site storage. we need to stop producing these that ends at you, on and prevent these risky transport. thank you >> thank you. kevin is with beyond nuclear. he will be available for interviews mike all of our expert panelists who have been listening to these problems associated with high-level radioactive waste. part of the reason we are so deeply concerned is that i'm going to turn to mayor al hill who will explain.. the decommissioned nuclear power plant that affects the community.
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>> i have to get my glasses on. i am al hill, and i am the mayor of zion, illinois, a community with a population of 25,000, located 25 miles north of chicago, and centered directly on lake michigan. i am not an expert on nuclear power, fuel storage, or transportation. i would like to share with you our experiences as a host to a nuclear power plant. the zion nuclear power plant was licensed by the nuclear regulatory commission in 1973 and operated from 1974 to 1998. the commission is expected to be completed by the end of the year. we have 64 dry cast storage units on site.
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in 1968, the nuclear power was a new technology that was perfect -- was to provide low- cost electric power. this is the first, illinois, and our country. people in zion understood that locating a power plant in its community would entail some costs. there was an understanding that the community would give up 250 seven acres of lakefront property. there would be an eyesore on the community that would be there a long time. the recreational access to the lake for visitors as well as local citizens would be severely limited. economic development opportunities associated with the lakefront would be severely inhibited. in exchange for the cost, there was an understanding that the zion community would benefit from the power plant. diane will benefit from the jobs created by the plant, but each taxing body would receive significant tax dollars from the increased equalized some sedation from the plant.
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the operating license of the plant expired, there were 257 acres that would return to pristine condition and the property would return to development purposes. that was the deal. there was never an understanding that once the plant closed the zion community would play host to a radioactive dump that contains 2.2 million, i'll say that again, 2.2 million pounds of nuclear and fuel rods on our lakefront. that was not part of the deal. i speak for all of the citizens of zion when i say that we do not want to be a storage facility for radioactive waste. our community is staggering. the closure and decommissioning of the plant has had a negative impact on local taxes, local employment, and our ability to maintain sustainable economic development.
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we were crushed by the loss of nearly half of our property tax base in 1998. when operating the zion nuclear station that contributed over $19 billion a year to the cost of local services, today it contributes 1 million. close -- closure of other plants also saw the loss of 800 full-time well-paying jobs. estimates are that $42 million per year were lost in payroll. without considering the safety of nuclear waste, when businesses are considering locating in zion, or making real estate investments, the nuclear waste presents a negative perception of our community. plans call for development of the lakefront. we are unable to attract investments to that to what should be the most valuable waterfront land along lake michigan. the city of zion comprehensive plan calls for the development concepts that are intended to
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preserve and enhance the natural areas and to create economic opportunities for new housing, educational, and tourism uses. the lost opportunity for economic development for the lakefront property is one of the most difficult realities for our community. it is the 2010 settling of the yucca mountain program, we are not naove enough to believe the routes will be removed anytime soon. we therefore believe our community should be compensated. we also believe that the federal government should do the compensating. in 1982, the united states congress enacted the nuclear waste all of the act, which was intended to begin the process of disposing of nuclear waste. the act contains the sections entitled interim storage find. this section references impact assistance with says that the secretary shall make annual payments to a state or appropriate local government or both in order to mitigate the
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social or economic impact occasioned by the establishment of subsequent alteration of interim storage capacity within jurisdictional boundaries of such government. impact assistance could be as high as $50. kilogram of spent four -- fuel. payments made should be allocated in a fair and equitable manner with a priority to those states or units of local government, suffering the most severe impact. i can't imagine any government anywhere that will suffer more severely than the zion area communities. we are talking about lake michigan, lakefront properties and is valued at a fraction of a spare market value because of 1 million kilograms of radioactive waste stored on the shoreline. the zion has never been asked about and never contemplated or consented to converting the decommissioned site to an indefinite and long-term nuclear storage facility.
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the intent of the 1982 federal regulation is clear, that communities will suffer social and economic impacts if they are designated as interim storage facilities, and that they should be compensated. senator tammy duckworth and congressman brad snyder have introduced legislation the hundred 15th congress that will make a long way of effective communities hold. the legislation will not only play to zion, but other communities throughout the united states, and are experiencing a decommissioning process. the act is called sensible timely release of american nuclear district economic development act of 2017. that all goes out to stranded. it talks about stranded nuclear waste. these are hr .30 9.70, and as .19 .03, i am hopeful that this legislation will successfully
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pass both houses of congress. this is an issue that should receive bipartisan support. nuclear power plants are located in both republican and democratic districts. i am hopeful for what this legislation will differ zion for the zion community. i am particularly hopeful for what it will do for all communities across the united states that are presently hosting nuclear power plants. every one of those plans are facing decommissioning in the spent fuel storage issue. i hope the legislation will help those communities afford -- avoid the pitfalls that zion is still dealing with 20 years after closing. i want to thank you for your time and attention, and also for the opportunity to share our experience with you. because of time factors, i have glossed over the details of what has happened in our community. but, if any of you have questions afterwards, i will be happy to go into details.
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thank you. >> thank you very much maryhill. our next speaker has an extremely long exposure to nuclear issues. our next speaker is the principal man of the westman band of the shoshone nation of indians. he is secretary to the native counsel. has studied the health effects and is deeply concerned based on the side that native american populations are not protected by any of the plants around the yucca mountain and and -- elsewhere.
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>> good afternoon. we are a party standing with the licensing board proceedings on the,. we have three primary contentions. the western shoshone title remains undistinguished. even with the department of energy using the bureau of land management's plan, the department of energy cannot prove ownership. our other contentions are based on our past exposure from fall out in weapons testing. we cannot endure any increased burden risk from any source. our final contention is water
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right. it is water which is necessary both spiritually and as a property right. those are our three primary contentions. you can go to our website which is native community action all of the information is there. thank you. >> thank you very much for that. all of these issues, i think bob alvarez started talking about half-lives that go up into the millions of years. i am not sure our next speaker will be here, but he will be here after many of us. i want to introduce jackson hinkle. he is a graduate of san clemente high school, and member of san clemente green and a regional director of earth gardens.
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he organized a campaign that led to the removal of plastic bottles at 60 campuses. he is the founder of the orange county students for civic counsel, a coalition that is recruiting mobilizing and supporting progressive student to run for city council positions. we are glad to have you here. >> thank you for having me. before i begin, i just wanted to see how great it is to see so many young faces in this crowd. in this movement, you don't see a lot of young faces, just know this is your future, your children's future, their children's future and so on. if you don't remember anything else today, take that with you. my name is jackson hinkle, i am 18 years old. i am representing san clemente green, and also the voices of future generations.
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my home of san clemente california, many speakers have already touched on the nuclear generating station, is current home to nuclear waste, and the waste is being stored is what is not as -- known as spin walled canisters. they are used across the united states, but not so much in other countries. there are 5/8 of an inch think. -- thick. they cannot be monitored for cracks and repairs, and they cannot be transported. there is many problems with that when you are dealing with nuclear waste. in addition to all of those things, moist marine salt and potassium chloride found in new mexico can cause corrosion and cracks in these canisters. once a crack starts, it only takes 16 years to grow completely through the wall.
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the president of the manufacturer of the canisters has admitted that it is not feasible to repair canisters even if you could find cracks. he stated as much as a microscopic crack and a canister will release millions of radio nuclear rise into the atmosphere. we can no longer treats this catastrophic issue as a minor inconvenience, and we can no longer take this radioactive can down the road. moving forward, what we need to do is oppose consolidated interim storage bills such as hr .30 .53. we must require a high-priority project to move existing nuclear fuel from spin walled canisters to said while cast, and lastly we need to find the safest location to store thick wall cast and reinforce buildings for additional environmental and security protection.
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what many people fail to see or seem to ignore is the fact that mismanagement of nuclear waste is not only pose issues for future generations and far down the road, it is going to affect us right now, and it already is affecting us right now. it is going to continue to affect us if we don't deal with it properly. so, thank you for having me. >> thank you very much, jackson. i am only a couple years older. so i want to join your group. last but not least, our final speaker is jeffrey fetters, he is a senior attorney with the natural resources defense council, and rdc, with their energy and transportation program.
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thank you for all of that. why don't you bring this on home. >> let me get to the right slide. how is the sound? my name is jeff that is. i am a senior attorney at nrdc. i am going to turn to like my colleagues here, i'm going to turn to a slightly more practical set of discussions. they have done a good job of setting up a lot of the risks and realities of what we face. but, i want to turn to a few things that are going on right now, and i think this briefing is so well-timed for congress.
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first, this is all on the ees i website. this is the trajectory slide that we have in the last several years since plants have closed. two closed in the next several years are at least seven reactors at five plants. there are only two under construction right now. the trajectory of those are uncertain. two got canceled this past year in south carolina. whatever one's position is on issues related to nuclear power, and whether or not that licensing is a reality, there is a downward trajectory, and decommissioning is coming. i want to also just caution you
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that decommissioning really is not just about the nuclear waste issues. although you and rdc myself in particular, there is a long history talking about the matters. let's put that to the side and talk about what decommissioning is as well in size to nuclear waste. mayor helen really touched on that. it is a gigantic industrial cleanup of huge industrial facilities that have singular items that makes it more complicated and more challenging than almost any other industrial cleanup. please make no mistake. you have profound amount of piping, concrete, cleanup, extraordinary effort that have to get done at these facilities that have been radioactive and used as -- with industrial
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chemicals as well for decades upon decades. let's turn to what that really means. a few years ago, the nrc to its credit and again, hell just froze over, because the nrc said that, to its credit got started on working on a rulemaking to finally address many of the issues with decommissioning. they saw the wave coming. it was really apparent by 2015 that you could not miss it. the advanced notice came out in november. the basis in that basically what they are going to put in the role and what they are not going to put in the role. meaning what they're going to treat as guidance, not actually have is a legal requirement they do that before they even have a draft rule.
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so, they have a final basis that came out in november of last year. now, the nrc staff has submitted a draft rule to the commission for its consideration. i cannot tell you when the draft rule will come out for public comment. that is up to the commissioners. when they vote on it and send it forward or back to staff, and if they make any changes, that is up to the commission. it is our best guess that that rule will come out later this year, early next year. again, you are better served asking the nrc at that moment. the final rule will come out in either 2019 or 2020, presuming they fit that timeframe. your thinking well, we have all of these decommissioning issues. the nrc is doing a rulemaking to address all of these issues.
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that is true, they are, and they are to be commended for starting a rulemaking on decommissioning. unfortunately as of right now, and again this can change, we don't expect that. as of right now, there are some significant issues of dispute and contentiousness that the rule is not addressing that they are not going to solve many of the problems, especially those cited by maryhill, which i have heard him do at longer proceedings. let me briefly walk you through what some of these moments of -- issues of contentiousness are likely to be, and the fact that the nrc's decommissioning rule is not only unlikely to solve many of the decommissioning problems, this amount me that is coming of mass -- massive cleanup, but i think they are going to make it worse, and congress will be called on through its
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legislative or its appropriation powers to start to solve some of these problems. the first issue is the biggest one. right now, when a zion, or any other nuclear operator decides to end its licensed operation and move into decommissioning, it does not actually need to file a plan that the nrc approves. they basically just send the nrc a letter. the nrc has essentially currently seized its regulatory authority. that will continue to be the case based on the draft rule we have seen thus far. that also comes along with a whole host of issues. when the nrc receives that regulatory authority, and does
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not keep regulatory requirements that you have to meet environmental standards or why cleanup standards, there is no opportunity for the state, for the local community, for any ngos for any tribes to say that is not good of laugh or we think the cleanup should be better. or for example we think the cleanup should be faster or slower and we would like our trained workforce to be a part of that cleanup. right now, that segues into the state and local government rule when the decommissioning plan is not a requirement. there is also no national environmental policy coverage out of it, which means this is a major federal action that affects the environment, how that cleanup will go. is put to the side by the current lack of fools, and even by the proposed rule that we are likely to see this next year. that limits any state and local government rule. not only did
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mayor hill's folks from zion not have the voice, future communities around the company have a voice. this is a bipartisan issue. this is about those local and state voices. the community transition and workforce needs are also minor because of the lack of any regulatory authority and the likelihood of the nrc to continue seeing that authority, right now one of the things that can happen is that there are three ways basically that decommissioning can take place. way one is called econ. that is what is sounds like, it is decommissioning. within the first several years, the actual cleanup really starts going. that is what happened to zion. they did get going and start on the cleanup and remove the
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concrete, they broke down the piping, and disposed of things to license radioactive waste or other disposal site. there is a lot of wisdom in doing that, because you actually have a transition provided for workforces that are going to go down as reactors do close. also, you have trained radiation health safety staff. there is another way to do decommissioning. that is also allowed under the rules. more and more radioactive operators are availing themselves of this. it is called safe store. under the rules right now and under the likely proposed rules, reactor operators can sit on those sites for years upon years, decades upon decades, up to 60 years, which takes that extraordinary amount of a viable commercial land out of the communities for those times.
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needless to say, a lot of communities are very upset about this concept, as are a lot of states. the nrc has heard about that in great detail in the comments thus far, from a -- several states. that goes to why are some of those operators doing that?
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