USA : Country Update : 13 May 2018

The following is a summary of key recent events, activity and announcements from the US over the past two weeks.  Full media reports and other links to these events and news announcements can be found on our international media page.  Scroll through the international media page for the date on which the event or announcement occurred to read the relevant article.

In addition to the US House of Representative’s vote on Yucca, the following has been reported in US media:

Opposition in New Mexico to Holtec’s planned interim storage facility

Public concerns expressed during a series of community consultation workshops, with local indigenous tribes calling the plan “cultural colonialism” (30 April, 4 & 9 May).  However, there remains strong local business and political support for the plans, and the US House of Representatives passed a vote urging the US Department of Energy to sanction such private sector interim storage facilities as a way of removing radioactive waste form surface stores pending a final permanent repository being available.

Checkered past of companies bidding for Los Alamos National Laboratory contracts

Pro Publica reports (8 May) that contractors who were responsible for the waste package that ruptured underground at WIPP, forcing the US’ only geological repository for nuclear waste to close for 2 years, are now in the running to secure the contract they lost as a consequence of the WIPP incident and of other health and safety violations.

Iron palm trees at WIPP

They may look like iron palm tress, but they are actually special arrays that protect WIPP facility from lightning strikes (8 May).

Socioeconomic impact of nuclear plant closures

Closures of nuclear facilities has impacted local economies and changed the community’s character, and there is continued community discontent (7 May) over prolonged interim surface storage of radioactive waste at decommissioned nuclear facilities because of the failure to provide a geological repository.

Three Mile Island closure worries

Closing Three Mile Island nuclear plant won’t eliminate hazards (7 May).  The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is addressing local concerns about maintaining interim surface radioactive waste stores at the iconic facility.

Yucca graphic illustrations win prestigious press prize

The Las Vegas Review-Journal proudly announces (5 May) that its graphic illustrations of the Yucca Mountain site’s geology have won a prestigious media award.

Radioactive waste a feature of elections for Idaho’s Governor & Lt Gov candidates

The candidates are interviewed by local media (3 & 5 May), with the issue of whether to extend the operational life and radioactive waste surface stores at the Idaho National Laboratory a lead item.

The politics of Nevada:  geological disposal a voting issue

Geological disposal at Yucca Mountain may play a key role in determining which Party controls the US Senate after the midterm elections in November.  Nevada Senator Heller is the only Republican senator running for reelection in the 2018 midterms in a state that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won.  His prospects reviewed by a leading political newspaper (3 May).

Democratic congressional candidate John Anzalone interviewed (29 April), explaining his opposition to Yucca.

New LANL contractor 

Following the rupture at WIPP of a radioactive waste package from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a new contractor, N3B, has been appointed to to take responsibility for the packaging of radioactive waste.  The contractor started work on 1 May.

Buffalo residents want waste removed

West New York resident walks through the complex ethical, technical, risk-assessment and other issues related to disposal of radioactive waste (30 April).