Energy Department Wants to Abandon Radioactive Waste

WASHINGTON – The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups ripped into the Department of Energy today for its plan to give itself the authority to abandon or improperly dispose of high-level radioactive waste. More than 100 million gallons of this toxic sludge currently sits in leaking, aging tanks at sites in Washington, South Carolina, Idaho and New York. 

The following is a statement from Geoffrey Fettus, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The Trump administration wants to undermine more than 50 years of national consensus on how the most toxic, radioactive and dangerous waste in the world is ultimately disposed of – seriously endangering millions of Americans and untold future generations.

“Disposal of high-level waste is one of the Energy Department’s most vexing problems, but the federal government cannot just wish this problem away. If the administration moves forward with this dangerous plan, it’s sure to face a stiff challenge in court.”


Under the law, high-level radioactive waste from the U.S. nuclear weapons program must be disposed of in deep, geologic formations, far from human contact. By unlawfully proposing to give itself the authority to “reinterpret” what is high-level radioactive waste, the Trump administration is trying to walk away from the most toxic, long-lasting waste in the world. If this happens, the risks from radioactive contamination increases and states would be left with billions of dollars of clean-up costs. 

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​


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