The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to ignore 50 years of agreement across the country on the management and disposal of the most toxic, radioactive waste in the world. By issuing a new interpretation of what qualifies as “high-level radioactive waste,” the agency is taking itself off the hook for properly disposing of more than 100 million gallons of waste at storage sites in South Carolina, Idaho, and Washington. Under the law, high-level waste—which remains dangerous for millenia—must be disposed of in deep, geologic formations, specially designed to avoid exposing the public and wildlife to potential harm. But instead of complying with the law, the Trump administration’s answer is to reclassify the radioactive waste in these problem areas as less dangerous, “low-level” waste, abandon it in shallow storage tanks in South Carolina and Washington, and attempt to ship some of the reclassified waste to sites in New Mexico or Texas that should never receive it and have never consented to store it. These solutions reduce the Energy Department’s financial burden at the cost of public safety.
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WASHINGTON - The Department of Energy issued new rules giving itself the authority to abandon storage tanks with more than 100 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste at sites in South Carolina, Idaho and the state of Washington.
DispatchNew MexicoLarry O'Hanlon
The problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste has haunted the United States for six decades. It’s now landed on New Mexico’s doorstep.
Issue BriefUnited States
In a survey, states say they should have additional regulatory authority over nuclear waste storage and disposal.
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…