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St. Louis area landfill containing nuclear waste that migrated. Photo: Laurie Skrivan, AP via WSJ
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing to loosen restrictions on the disposal of the waste from nuclear power plants to allow municipal landfills to take it, thus lowering costs for the aging nuclear plants.The Hill reported that scientists and environmental advocates oppose the proposal — particularly coming now during the coronavirus pandemic — because it would put public health at risk, particularly given the rollbacks in regulations on emissions from landfills and the current lack of any enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of all regulations.
Why This Matters: Who wants nuclear waste in their municipal landfill? Especially when we know those were not designed to accept this kind of toxic waste that could have devastating health impacts in neighboring communities. This seems like a really bad idea – with no safeguards to ensure that surrounding groundwater, land and neighborhoods remain safe. The pandemic may be a big challenge for the Trump administration but they are not taking their eye off the ball as far as deregulation of environmental, health and safety rules.
The NRC Says Its NBD
There is a limit to what even the NRC would accept. The proposed rollback would not permit waste with a large level of radiation to be put in a landfill — waste with a cumulative radiation dose level of up to 25 millirem would not be permitted, which is low. But there is no cumulative amount allowed in any landfill and a rule like this one is easy to get around by making each load fall under the limit. They claim that this just allows states to permit the landfills to take nuclear waste without the state having to approve each disposal.
What the NGOs and Scientists Say
Dan Hirsch, the former director of the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy, argues this is a terrible proposal — “[w]hat they’re trying to do is prop up a failing industry so that the cost of decommissioning these [nuclear] reactors is reduced so you don’t have to send it to a place that is expensive because it’s designed to safely handle it.” And Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Pacific Director Jeff Ruch said: “NRC’s action could transform most municipal dumps into radioactive repositories, with essentially no safeguards for workers, nearby residents, or adjoining water tables.” In the past, nuclear waste dumped in landfills has been found to migrate off the site — like happened at a landfill in St. Louis where it was later found in a nearby creek, in the yards of private homes and under ballfields.
In its annual Sustainability Report, Ford Motors made several key pledges in addition to the promise to be carbon neutral as a company by 2050. In addition, they will use 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035, aspire to achieve zero air emissions from our facilities, only use recycled and renewable plastics in our vehicles globally and eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2030, and achieve true zero waste to landfill across our operations, among other social responsibility commitments.
Why This Matters: Other car companies have focused on products — Daimler Chrysler, VW, and Tesla come to mind.
Yesterday, online retail giant Amazon announced its Climate Pledge Fund–a $2 billion that will invest in companies that develop innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions. As the Verge explained, The fund will help Amazon and other companies adhere to The Climate Pledge initiative it started in September 2019. That pledge committed the company, and others […]
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