News > News > Stop Polluters > Power Plant Cases > Indian Point > Riverkeeper: NRC’s Nuclear Waste Storage Plan is a Fairy Tale with No Happy Ending

Riverkeeper: NRC’s Nuclear Waste Storage Plan is a Fairy Tale with No Happy Ending


Contact: Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371, [email protected]

NRC study fails to comply with federal court order and ignores actual impacts of future radioactive leaks and a severe accident or attack on spent fuel pools

Ossining, NY – October 30, 2013 – Riverkeeper will testify at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) public meeting in Tarrytown tonight on the agency’s environmental review of long-term nuclear waste storage, which it was forced to prepare following a successful federal court challenge to its “Waste Confidence Rule” by Riverkeeper, New York State, Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations.

Until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against it, the NRC relied on its “Waste Confidence Rule” for decades to prevent the public from raising concerns about nuclear waste storage in its licensing proceedings, including the relicensing review for Indian Point. Riverkeeper and the New York Attorney General’s office have repeatedly raised concerns about the high risk of a terrorist attack or accident involving the 2000 tons of toxic nuclear waste at the plant, as well as the environmental damage to the Hudson River from spent fuel pool leaks over the last ten years. Indian Point’s spent fuel pools are vulnerable to terrorism, prone to leaks, and were never designed to hold the toxic waste that is currently packed into them, and will remain onsite indefinitely.

“The NRC has completely failed to take the ‘hard look’ at the future impacts of nuclear waste at Indian Point and other reactors required by law,” said Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director. “Indian Point has become a de facto toxic waste dump over the last forty years of its operation – it makes no sense to relicense the reactors, and allow another one thousand tons of waste to be created with no solution in sight. The NRC must go back to the drawing board, and develop a plan to move this dangerous waste out of pools into dry casks as soon as possible to avoid the risk of a catastrophic radiation release from these pools.”

The NRC’s fatally flawed environmental study is based on a number of unrealistic, fantasy -based assumptions, including the following:

  • The NRC’s current regulations and oversight, and Entergy’s ownership of the site, will continue indefinitely, at least 160 years after the reactors are shut down, and will be enough to ensure that the waste is stored safely for thousands of years.
  • The NRC assumes all the waste will be moved from the spent fuel pools into dry casks within 60 years of the reactors’ permanent shutdown – this despite the fact that NRC regulations allow plant owners to ask for an exemption from the 60 year cleanup requirement.
  • Instead of a strict risk/consequence approach, the NRC relies on a “probabilistic risk analysis” which allows it to underestimate the consequences of an attack, based on its belief that the risk is extremely low.
  • Because past spent fuel pool leaks have caused only minor impacts, future leaks will also be “insignificant” in the NRC’s view – the NRC relies on a voluntary industry initiative to ensure that sites are monitored for pool and pipe leaks after shutdown.
  • The NRC assumes that the environmental impacts of leaks and pool fires would be about the same at sites across the country, and rejects the idea of requiring site specific analysis of nuclear waste storage – this despite the fact that Indian Point is unique in several ways – it has 20 million people within 50 miles, it’s leaked radiation into the Hudson River, and New York City’s drinking water supply is less than 15 miles away.

  • Background

    On June 11, 2012 in a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington threw out the NRC’s “Waste Confidence Decision.” For decades, the NRC has licensed and re-licensed reactors without having a plan for how to safely store and dispose of the highly radioactive spent fuel they produce. Even worse, the NRC’s regulations have specifically barred the public from raising any safety or environmental concerns about spent fuel in any licensing proceedings. Now, for the first time, the NRC must consider the environmental effects and costs if a repository is never found.

    The Tarrytown meeting is one of 12 across the country. The public has until December 20, 2013 to comment on the NRC’s environmental impact statement.


Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member