Jan 152015
 

The federal government requires our energy companies to report accidents that result in loss of life or $50,000 in property damage. Between 1952 and 2009, at least 66 of these accidents occurred at nuclear power plants. Another 57 nuclear accidents have occurred in other countries since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster which killed 30 people, forever contaminated miles of Ukrainian real estate, and caused at least $7 billion in damages. These accident totals do not include Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in which 3 reactors melted down and spread airborne radioactive contaminates throughout the region. Each day for the past for the past 4 years and counting, this crippled facility leaks more than 70,000 gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Radioactive contaminates have also been found in groundwater under the plant. Fukushima was caused by a large earthquake and ensuing Tsunami which killed more than 18,000 people. However, none of these deaths have been attributed to radiation exposure. Although there are relatively few immediate fatalities from nuclear power plant accidents, health advocates warn that many people exposed to radiation during and after these events are likely to get sick later in life. When promoting future prospects for nuclear power, supporters like to say that modern nuclear power plants are much safer than ones like Fukushima which were constructed 30 years ago. However, with no nuclear power plants having been built in the last 30 years, our plants are also older designs like those at Fukushima –and presumably just as dangerous. Advocates claim the Fukushima disaster shows how little time there is for citizens to react to an escalating nuclear emergency and how important it is for local communities to be prepared for such an event. They claim Japan’s chaotic attempts to use untried and untested methods to bring these reactors under control shows how important it is for industry and government entities to be prepared as well. They say that, unlike Japan, we must prepare for nuclear plant emergencies before one may occur.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1700 – Nuclear Disaster Preparedness Act

I oppose reforming current nuclear accident preparedness policy and wish to defeat H.R.1700

I support directing the President to issue guidance on the federal response to any nuclear disaster that may be caused by a natural catastrophe, an accident, or a terrorist or other attack; occurs initially at a nuclear power plant; and disperses radiation off the reactor site and into the surrounding area. Requires such guidance to designate the single federal agency responsible for coordinating the government’s efforts in response to a nuclear disaster, including making a formal declaration that a nuclear disaster exists; designate the single agency responsible for recommending the evacuation of the area within a 10-mile to 50-mile radius from the nuclear power plant; designate the single agency responsible for developing plans for, educating the public regarding, and conducting, such evacuation; designate the single agency responsible for recommending that evacuees may return following a nuclear disaster; designate the single agency responsible for conducting cleanup of a nuclear disaster; identify what cleanup standards will apply, and wish to pass H.R.1700

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

We now have 65 commercial nuclear power plants in 31 states operating 104 reactors. There are also another 15 permanently shut reactors that house spent fuel. Our largest facility is Arizona’s Palo Verde power plant. It operates 3 pressure water reactors and consumes nearly 5 million pounds of uranium each year. Nuclear power plants provide about 20% of our electricity even though none have been built in more than 30 years due to concerns over safety and waste disposal. Even so, about half a dozen new plants with 24 reactors had been planned to come online by 2020. However, the construction of these plants has been threatened by competition from now-abundant natural gas. Nuclear power plant supporters say these facilities produce electricity that is cheaper and cleaner than fossil-fueled power plants. Critics claim nuclear-produced power is not more inexpensive if plant construction and decommissioning costs are considered. They say the cost of quarantining and abandoning large tracks of land contaminated by radioactive fallout has not been factored into these costs. They warn there is no fail-safe way to store or dispose of waste materials which remain deadly for hundreds and thousands of years. They also warn most of our aging nuclear reactors now need to be replaced or decommissioned since they become more dangerous as they grow older.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2712 – Nuclear Power Licensing Reform Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nuclear power plant construction policy and wish to defeat H.R.2712

I support stricter power plant licensing that includes a requirement that the location of new and existing nuclear power plants to not pose an unreasonable threat to people and the environment; adequate evacuation plans; applications for nuclear power plant renewals be subject to the same requirements as would new plants and ensuring any changes in the size or distribution of the surrounding population, or seismic or other scientific data not available at time of original licensing, have not resulted in the facility being located at a site at which a new facility would not be allowed to be built, and wish to pass H.R.2712

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The problem of what to do with 72,000 tons of nuclear waste accumulated over 60 years by our energy and defense industries has not yet been solved. Currently, commercial and government nuclear facilities incur great expense by storing their waste on-site. This waste includes used, or spent, fuel rods as well as hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water. Our Department of Energy (DOE) wants to build a permanent underground storage facility to reduce costs and minimize security threats. It claims on-site waste storage at 131 nuclear facilities increases the risk of leaks which could contaminate the environment or of terrorists acquiring this material. DOE is studying the feasibility of building a repository capable of storing up to 77,000 tons of nuclear waste for possibly 10,000 years. The chosen storage site is deep inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain -about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The estimated cost of this unparalleled construction project is at least $60 billion but is adamantly opposed by many Nevadans. These Americans have experienced the effects of previous radioactive experiments conducted in their state. Some claim a central repository is unnecessary since studies have shown nuclear waste can be safely stored on location for possibly 100 more years. They say that Yucca Mountain is an unsuitable location for a repository since water has been found to move through the mountain faster than previously believed. To counter this problem, the construction of man-made barriers would be needed to prevent contaminant seepage. However, this violates the mandate by Congress for a repository with natural geological barriers. Also, radioactive waste is projected to be encased in metal containers but experts claim no metal will last underground for more than 400-500 years. Others are worried about the dangers of transporting nuclear waste across our country. Yucca supporters claim this site was selected because it was remote and geologically stable. They say that nuclear waste will be isolated 1,000 feet under dry rock and 1,000 feet above the water table. They also say that, due to robust shipping containers, there have been no accidents in more than 3,000 shipments of used fuel transported across 1.7 million miles nationwide. They claim studies continue to show Yucca Mountain to be a suitable site for the repository. In 2011, the Obama administration suspended funding for the Yucca Mountain repository without making a final decision on whether to proceed with this project. A federal court has recently ruled the construction of the repository is to proceed.

Pending Legislation:

S.1240 – Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nuclear waste policy and wish to defeat S.1240

I support establishing a new nuclear waste management organization, authorizing the construction of interim storage facilities and permanent waste repositories, sited through a consent-based process and funded by fees currently collected from nuclear power ratepayers, and wish to pass S.1240

 Posted by at 12:00 am