Our country does not have a well-defined policy in regard to where and how to store high level radioactive waste. Bury it in a big hole someday, somewhere is about as far as we have gotten in determining what to do with plutonium, cesium, and a multitude of radioactive daughter products that are part of used fuel rods which are lethal for 240,000 years. Even burying it is problematic as the earth moves over that length of time and the computer estimates for the lifetime of the casks the high level radioactive waste is stored is about 350 years.. If we seal it in a national depository it will not be possible to monitor the casks and it will be very easy to forget about them as the centuries pass.
It is much safer and more sensible not to transport high level radio active waste to a national depository but rather to store it above ground on site where it can be budgeted for, safely stored, regularly inspected and transferred to new casks as the original ones fail. Transporting them would mean contaminating other communities and leaving a trail of radioactivity through our cities and neighborhoods over our highways, railways and waterways. Storing casks on site above ground would make them more visible and harder to forget as the years roll by and local governments change.
It is obvious that an onsite storage site must be supervised as part of a regular and ongoing program. Who should do this supervision and how should it be set up to last for such an unthinkably long time?
Currently we have a local volunteer group in Cortlandt, a local Task Force set up by Cortlandt Supervisor, Linda Puglisi which is set to expire when the reactors close and a New York State Task Force appointed by the Governor. It is also scheduled to disband when the last reactor closes. This Task Force serves at the pleasure of the Governor and can be extended or disbanded by the Governor now or in the future. It does not represent a wide range of stakeholders nor has it dealt with the mechanics of decommissioning in any meaningful way.
What is called for is legislature to establish a permanent Citizens Oversight Board that charged with coordinating reports and information. Its members would represent a wide range of stake holders, some elected and some appointed by elected officials. The COB would hold public informational meetings and listen to citizen input. And keep up with any new technological developments in fuel rod storage. It would prepare reports with recommendations for future actions and publish information on the current condition of the casks and how they are being supervised.
There is no good solution to the problem of nuclear waste. We can only store what we have created as safely as possible and stop making more.
Indian Point Safe Engery Coalition