Stop Fukushima Freeways Campaign Kicks Off

New Map shows Southern California would be a Corridor for

Extremely Dangerous and Radioactive
Nuclear Waste Shipments

Contacts: Linda Seeley 805-234-1769 [email protected]; Jane Swanson 805-440-1359 [email protected]

CALIFORNIA– Thousands of tonsof nuclear waste shipments would cross through California if plans for the country’s first nuclear waste repository in Nevada move forward. Today, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace released a map of the likely routes radioactive shipments would use, joining dozens of environmental and clean energy groups across the country. The groups want state residents to weigh in with Congress about the dangers.

According to the map, highly radioactive waste fuel from Humboldt Bay, Rancho Seco, San Onofre, and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants would pass through the state on railways, highways, and barges including Northern California, Sacramento, the Central Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County. Each shipment would contain several times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima bomb blast released, with 20 to 50 tons of irradiated fuel assemblies in each canister. Department of Energy studies completed in the 1990s confirmed that accidents in transporting the waste to Yucca Mountain would be a certainty, due to the large number of shipments that would be required. The shipments would also be vulnerable to attack or sabotage along the hundreds or thousands of miles that each cask would travel.

“California is not ready for mass transportation of nuclear waste,” said San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace Spokesperson Linda Seeley. “First responders are not even trained to handle a rad waste accident. We have all witnessed horrible oil train derailments and explosions in recent months. An accident involving tons of nuclear waste in these vulnerable areas could force thousands of people to evacuate their homes, schools, and businesses and radioactively-contaminate dozens of square miles,” Seeley concluded.

Some in Congress want to force a nuclear waste dump to open in Nevada, over President Obama’s and the state’s objections as well as that of the Western Shoshone Nation. The president has defunded the proposed Yucca Mountain repository since 2010, effectively abandoning the controversial project, while Nevada believes the site is not suitable for storing nuclear waste and opposes the project. Nevada controls land and water rights the federal government would need to complete the project. To overcome that obstacle, Congress would need to enact a law overriding the state’s rights. Doing so would then open the door for the nuclear waste shipments to begin.

“Congress should support the people of Nevada and abandon Yucca Mountain,” said San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace Spokesperson Jane Swanson. “It is unconscionable to risk the lives of California’s residents transporting nuclear waste through our communities and agricultural areas, just to dump it at Yucca Mountain, where we know it will leak anyway. We need real solutions to nuclear waste, and we are never going to get there until Congress abandons Yucca Mountain. Until then, the waste can be stored more securely where it is now, without putting it on our roads and railways, traveling through our communities,” concluded Swanson.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to oppose Yucca Mountain and ensure transportation of nuclear waste only occurs when there is a scientifically proven, environmentally sound, and socially responsible long-term management plan. The nuclear waste problem can never truly be resolved until nuclear power plants are permanently shut down and stop generating radioactive material. New reactors would only exacerbate the problem: more dump sites would need to be created, and the transportation of lethal atomic waste would have to continue indefinitely.

Large-scale nuclear waste transport would also occur if, as some in Congress advocate, a “centralized interim storage” site for high-level radioactive waste were created. In that case, the waste would either have to move twice (once to the interim site, and then to a permanent site), thus doubling the risks or the “interim” site would become a de facto permanent waste dump–without going through the necessary scientific characterization.

Link to “Fukushima Freeways” video: