Keeping radioactive waste on-site is the least risky option. The waste should be transported only once – from the reactor sites to an environmentally just and scientifically sound site for permanent isolation.
Over 80,000 metric tons of radioactive waste have piled up at nuclear power plants across the United States, and there is still no responsible solution for storing and isolating this waste for the next million years.
The intent of CIS facilities is to transport and temporarily store high level radioactive waste from across the country. At some point in the future, the plan is to move this waste a second time to a currently non-existent permanent repository. The nuclear industry’s plan poses a real threat for all of us.
- CIS is unjust and immoral; it violates the principles of environmental justice. Environmental justice is the concept that major polluting projects should not have a disproportionate impact on people of color and working poor communities. Too often, nuclear waste dumps, toxic incinerators, nuclear reactors, and other such facilities are located in communities with few resources and little political clout. Too often, the communities targeted are working poor, people of color, and Indigenous Peoples.
Presently there are two proposed facilities – Southwestern Texas: Andrews County (Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists) and Southeastern New Mexico: Lea County (Holtec International). Both proposed sites are in working poor Hispanic communities. Neither New Mexico nor Texas consent to the proposed CIS facilities in their communities. These proposals are clear examples of environmental racism.
- Transporting irradiated nuclear waste by rail, truck, and barge is dangerous. If CIS is implemented, it would involve a decades-long process of transporting over 100,000 shipments of nuclear waste through 44 states and the District of Columbia.
- The waste would go through major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, St. Louis, and the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Most shipments would travel over 1,000 miles, risking the health and safety of communities along the way.
- Despite heavy shielding, the transportation casks constantly emit some radiation which would expose drivers, crew, and anyone nearby, and increase the incidents of cancers and other health problems.
- Our infrastructure isn’t prepared to handle thousands of shipments without risk of derailments, bridge collapses, traffic accidents, and contamination of waterways.
- An accident or attack on a nuclear waste shipment could release large amounts of radiation, causing the affected area to be uninhabitable for decades, exposing the community to nuclear contamination and costing billions of dollars in damages and cleanup.
- CIS is illegal. Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1987. It states that no interim storage is permitted unless and until a permanent repository has been identified and approved by Congress. The nuclear industry is attempting to circumvent the law by seeking congressional approval for CIS.