Ahaus, America, AVR, Bund, burial of nuclear waste, dilution nuclear waste, DU, exporting nuclear waste, Friends of the Earth, fuel fabrication, Germany, Greenpeace, HEU, highly enriched uranium, Italy, Juelich, legal action, New Mexico, nuclear accidents, nuclear waste, Nukem, Pebble Bed nuclear reactors, Pebble Bed Reactors, Russia, SNF, South Carolina, Spent Nuclear Fuel, Texas, THTR, US, Utah
Currently Germany, with the complicity of the US government, is attempting to send 455 large casks of high level spent nuclear fuel from solid storage facilities, to sit outside under tarp in South Carolina, and probably to be diluted and buried in Texas, Utah, or elsewhere, USA. Shockingly, the Environmental Assessment itself says so. See:
The traitors at the US government want people to think that this is less than one tonne, based on the initial weight of highly enriched uranium (HEU) exported decades ago. However, this is spent nuclear fuel, and the original nuclear fuel was 96% German made by the aptly named “Nukem”. Because the Pebble Bed reactors had accidents the fuel is said to be in bad shape. It may no longer be highly enriched, since it is spent (used) uranium. Certainly the uranium will not be as enriched as it was before use!
Update: The US DOE has unofficially (not published in Federal Register) extended the German waste dumping comment deadline. To be anonymous you will have to send a disposable email, or send it by post with no return address. People should have the right to “vote” anonymously. “Comments may be submitted by email to GermanSpentNuclearFuelEA@leidos.com. Direct written comments on the Draft Spent Nuclear Fuel from Germany EA to Tracy Williams, NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box B, Aiken, South Carolina 29802. DOE has extended the public comment period in response to several requests. The public comment period now ends March 25, 2016. DOE will consider all comments received via email by 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time or postmarked by that date. Comments submitted after that date and time will be considered to the extent practicable.” http://energy.gov/nepa/ea-1977-acceptance-and-disposition-spent-nuclear-fuel-containing-us-origin-highly-enriched The formal deadline was March 11 at 11.59 pm: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOE_FRDOC_0001-3020
Strangely, and sadly, the major opposition to sending the German nuclear waste to be dumped and buried in America appears to be coming from Germany. While this is partly because of the real risks that shipment of this high level nuclear waste constitutes for Germany, and Europe, much seems to be due to their goodness of heart.
And, while Friends of the Earth (Bund) Germany and Greenpeace (Germany?) will sue over this, if need be, US Greenpeace and US FOE appear to have gone AWOL. The only visible US opposition is Tom Clements-Savannah River Site Watch. Where is everyone else? Hopefully putting in their comments!
Comment is easy; it can be short, and it can still be anonymous. And, it is free. If German Greenpeace and FOE (Bund) need to sue, then Americans will need to send them money to protect America, as the US government certainly won’t!
While it is amazing and nice that Germans are standing up against this export of nuclear waste to America, it can’t be taken for granted. Nor can it be counted on, as other countries decide to dump their nuclear waste on America.
And, for Americans to expect German environmentalists and parliamentarians to protect America from corrupt US and German officials is absurd. Most people would be happy to get shot of their nuclear waste and not so saintly as the German opponents to the export.
The nuclear waste, which was originally planned to be sent, is located near Juelich, Germany, itself located about half an hour east-north east of Charlemagne’s seat, and possible birthplace, of Aachen, Germany. It would probably be moved by boat on either the Meuse or the Rhine (possibly by train or truck), crossing much of Northern Europe to arrive at the port of Rotterdam and then be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the port of Charleston then shipped by train across almost the entire state of South Carolina to arrive in Aiken South Carolina. While Charleston to Aiken by train is said to be the route, it could also be Savannah, Georgia, up the Savannah River or by truck. However, either Germany (or the US government) decided to empty out most of the Ahaus nuclear waste facility, too, increasing the amount being shipped enormously. And, with that the risk.
Ahaus Nuclear Waste Storage Facility, location exported from Wikipedia, DE.
Charlemagne was described as being tall with a “bright and cheerful expression“. This is an apt description of the German parliamentarian, Oliver Krischer, who has written the below letter to the US government opposing the export of the nuclear waste, and who represents Aachen.
See video of Oliver Krischer here: http://youtu.be/HmoSLC3V55w
There are new and important points in the letter submitted by Oliver Krischer. One is that the US is misleading people about the amount and origin of the spent nuclear fuel: “The fuel elements were mainly (96 %) fabricated in Germany at Nukem, US origin is only the HEU content (830 kg)“. And, that because of severe nuclear accidents this spent nuclear fuel is probably “in very bad shape“, which means that they will probably produce “huge amounts of secondary waste“: “As an independent official experts group outlined 2014, there were several severe accidents in AVR reactor (which were hushed up for decades). The fuel elements are thus in a very bad shape. Their reprocessing will probably produce huge amounts of secondary waste, which will hinder the intended cleaning of the SRS site. About 4 % of the THTR fuel elements are broken with probably similar consequences.” Interestingly, the nuclear reactors had twins in the US: “Peach Bottom HTGR for AVR and Fort St. Vrain HTGR for THTR, and these US plants are considered as commercial in the US“. Although the Pebble Bed nuclear reactors were fiascos, they still were commercial nuclear reactors: “The very poor performance of these German pebble bed NPP may not be taken as argument for non-existing commercial intentions: They were commercial NPPs” As one would expect, since the nuclear waste is spent (i.e. used) nuclear fuel, it is no longer highly enriched: “In average the spent AVR waste does not contain HEU“. The letter arrives at the conclusion: “Having in mind that it seems that the German side has officially supported the DEA for THTR waste too, we guess that the German export plans for the AVR waste are only the first step of an ecologically highly problematic export of all German nuclear waste to other countries. Russia has already similar offers.” [MA Ed. note: This is apparently reference to German utilities (RWE E.On.-URENCO) that sent nuclear waste (DU hex-uranium tailings) to Russia http://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/Bellona-activist-arrested-again German and Russian environmentalists forced them to return some of it to Germany. However, German utilities, with the help of the Italian mafia, successfully exported nuclear sludge to dump all over Italy, especially in the formerly fertile agricultural area now known as the “Triangle of Death”.]
Legal Opinion in English that export from Germany to the US is illegal: https://www.greenpeace.de/sites/www.greenpeace.de/files/publications/rechtsgutachten-juelich_engl.pdf
Text of the letter with our emphasis added:
“Dear Ms. Williams
I am deeply concerned about the US/German plans to reprocess and store about 200,000 kg of commercial German pebble fuel elements from the nuclear power plants AVR Juelich (15 MWel) and THTR-300 (300 MWel) at SRS. The reasons for my comments are:
European Union and German laws do not allow the export of nuclear waste, except for proliferation relevant waste from neutron generating research reactors. The reasonable general rule is that the waste has to remain in the country of its origin. AVR and THTR are obviously no research reactors and are not listed as research reactors by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but as nuclear power plants. There are several legal expertizes, which underline this position. For that German environmental organisations as BUND (friends of the earth) and Greenpeace have announced legal actions in case of a transport of the German fuel to SRS.
Reprocessing of fuel elements is prohibited by law in Germany for commercial fuel elements. Both, AVR and THTR were both owned and operated by commercial utilities (and THTR still is) and produced electricity (4.4 bn kWh) to the grid. For both German NPPs sister plants existed in the US:
Peach Bottom HTGR for AVR and Fort St. Vrain HTGR for THTR, and these US plants are considered as commercial in the US. The very poor performance of these German pebble bed NPP may not be taken as argument for non-existing commercial intentions: They were commercial NPPs.
There is no significant proliferation risk for the AVR waste, as several expertizes (e.g. from the NNSA 2013) indicate. In average the spent AVR waste does not contain HEU. A conditioning and final storage in Germany is possible.
The fuel elements were mainly (96 %) fabricated in Germany at Nukem, US origin is only the HEU content (830 kg).
As an independent official experts group outlined 2014, there were several severe accidents in AVR reactor (which were hushed up for decades). The fuel elements are thus in a very bad shape. Their reprocessing will probably produce huge amounts of secondary waste, which will hinder the intended cleaning of the SRS site. About 4 % of the THTR fuel elements are broken with probably similar consequences.
The German government has officially announced here in the past years that there are no plans to export the waste from THTR to the US, but only for the AVR and that they wonder about an “Draft Environmental Assessment” (DEA) by DOE for THTR waste. Having in mind that it seems that the German side has officially supported the DEA for THTR waste too, we guess that the German export plans for the AVR waste are only the first step of an ecologically highly problematic export of all German nuclear waste to other countries. Russia has already similar offers.
Oliver Krischer Member of the German Bundestag
Deputy Chairman of the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group
See original here: http://oliver-krischer.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/gruene_btf_krischer/2016/Brief_USA_NEPA_Atommuell.pdf
The author of the original letter may be Claudia Baitinger, who appears a cheerful good soul as well. Similar English and German versions may be found here: http://www.westcastor.de/AVR_SRS_Sammeleinwendung.pdf