Midnight Oil


Kate Parker Adams kate at dnki.net
Sat May 15 09:15:18 MDT 2004

LMOC, since The Oils have collaborated with the Nuclear Information Resource
Service in the past.  This plan to release radioactive waste into the
general landfill and incinerator feed is pretty seriously nasty given that
most "risk assessments" are based on very limited evidence from DOE studies
of working male populations receiving whole body radiation, not impoverished
elderly or pregnant mums and kids drinking from groundwater sources.

-----Original Message-----



Environmental Protection Agency Proposes New Rule:
Nuclear Power and Weapons Waste to go to Regular Landfills and other
“Non-Regulated Management”

Comments due to EPA by MAY 17, 2004 (note deadline extended from March)
Email to: a-and-r-Docket at epa.gov    Attn: Docket OAR-2003-0095
or upload them onto EPA’s website www.epa.gov/radiation

The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule (68 FR
22:65120-65151, Nov 18, 2003) that would allow nuclear and mixed waste to go
to places that are not licensed for radioactive materials. The goal appears
to be to "redefine" radioactive materials, no matter what their source
(nuclear power, nuclear weapons, naturally occurring or other), based on
EPA-calculated and projected risks. The new category of nuclear materials
(once called BRC or Below Regulatory Concern) would supposedly not need
radioactive regulatory controls. EPA does not consider all the potential
health effects of radiation and hazardous materials in estimating the risks.
They have never demonstrated the accuracy of their predictions. (See"Summary
of EPA Proposal" below for more details.)


  1) Send a letter to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt encouraging him to
withdraw EPA's proposed action. leavitt.michael at epa.gov
  Administrator Mike Leavitt, US Environmental Protection Agency, 1101A,
  Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Washington, DC 20460

  2) Send comments to EPA and get organizations and landfill boards to do so
  a-and-r-Docket at epa.govDocket No. OAR-2003-0095.
          The proposal is on the EPA website www.epa.gov/radiation.

  3) Let your elected officials know how you feel about these dangers by
sending them a copy of your letter to Secretary Leavitt and telling them
about your opposition to the federal rules that would deregulate and exempt
nuclear materials from regulation.

For more information contact:
Diane D'Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), 1424 16th
Street NW Suite 404, Washington, DC 20036, dianed at nirs.org, 202 328-0002 ext
16. See NIRS website under Campaigns at www.nirs.org for more info and
actions.  The proposal was published Nov 18, 2003 at 68 FR 22-65120-65151.

Summary of EPA Proposal
1) First, EPA would allow mixed radioactive and hazardous wastes to go to
facilities permitted for hazardous waste only (RCRA C hazardous waste dumps
& processors).

2) Second, radioactive waste (not mixed with hazardous) could be permitted
to go to places that do not have radioactive licenses or regulations, such
as regular garbage dumps or incinerators or hazardous sites. Since the
nuclear waste would no longer be regulated for radioactivity, it could go to
regular recyclers. EPA justifies this by claiming they will provide an
acceptable level of protection from radiation risk. It seems obvious this
would be a problem for communities around the waste sites, many of which
already leak.

3) Third, EPA suggests that a “non-regulatory approach” to management of
radioactive waste is an option and requests creative ideas for “partnering”
with waste generators or other schemes to relieve the regulatory burden.
Nothing would prevent radioactive materials from going to recycling
facilities and being mixed with the normal recycling streams which are made
into everyday household items like toys, cookware, personal use items, cars,
furniture and civil engineering projects like roads and buildings.

4) EPA’s rule threatens to preempt and supercede existing state laws that
prohibit nuclear waste in solid waste landfills or other sites. VT, ME, OH,
WI, IL, MN, CO, OR, PA, CT, WV, NM, IA, are among states that have passed
such laws and regulations. OK, GA and VA passed resolutions in one or both
houses and counties and towns in many other states have resolutions against
this action. Notify your state and local officials to comment and uphold
your protections against nuclear power and weapons wastes!

5) This dangerous proposal dovetails neatly into the US Nuclear Regulatory
Commission's rulemaking to deregulate and release radioactive material from
control, ironically called "Control of Solids." The NRC is considering
several options for nuclear waste deregulation including continuing the
current case-by-case release procedures, starting new release procedures
that are based on projected risks, sending the waste to sites that are not
licensed for nuclear materials. NRC is claiming they could approve
"restricted" release of nuclear waste meaning certain conditions would apply
but that NRC would not enforce them--someone else, as yet un-named would.

The upshot is that NRC and EPA are joining forces to allow nuclear power and
weapons waste which is now generally required to be regulated and
controlled, to be released to waste sites and processors never designed to
take radioactive materials and to the marketplace where it will come into
routine daily contact with us, our kids and environment.

6) To make matters even worse, the US NRC and US Department of
Transportation on 1-26-04 finalized new transport regulations (TSR-1) that
would exempt various levels of hundreds of radionuclides from regulatory
control in transit. This will make it easier for NRC and EPA to deregulate
nuclear wastes since they will no longer require regulation, labeling or
control as radioactive material during transportation. (This is especially
distressing in light of increased security concerns about transportation of
nuclear materials that could be used for dirty bombs. More unregulated
nuclear materials will be on the roads, rails, barges and aircraft.) NIRS is
challenging DOT & NRC on this.

7) Finally, the Department of Energy is in the process of a Programmatic
Environmental Impact Statement on releasing radioactive materials from its
sites. In 2000, DOE halted the commercial recycling of potentially
radioactive metals from certain contaminated area on its sites, but could
resume it. DOE continues to allow radioactively contaminated metals out for
unregulated disposal and to allow other radioactively contaminated materials
out for recycling or unregulated disposal--soils, concrete, asphalt,
plastic, wood, equipment, buildings, sites and more. EPA’s Nov. 18, 2003
notice would help legalize DOE’s release of nuclear weapons wastes from
regulatory control.

Here's what Ed Asner said about the program at the April 15 kick-off dinner
for the Fund for a Nuclear-Free World--NIRS/WISE:

"Here’s another thing that gets me angry: The deregulation of radioactive
waste. That’s right, the deregulation of nuclear waste. The government and
nuclear industry want to deregulate some of their so-called “low-level”
nuclear waste, and just pretend that it’s not radioactive, and let it go to
municipal landfills and be recycled into bedframes and bicycles and belt
buckles--all for the economic benefit of the nuclear power industry. There
is one group that has stood in the way of this plan for 18 years now. NIRS.
When this plan was first announced back in 1986, it was NIRS that organized
a national campaign against it, against the policy called “below regulatory
concern” and organized grassroots citizens and local and state officials to
pass 15 state laws barring the practice, and hundreds of resolutions from
city and county governments and, in 1992, got a federal law overturning the
policy. But now, under the Bush administration, the government is trying
once again to implement this policy, and again, NIRS is the lead group
organizing and educating and mobilizing to defeat it."
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