After celebrating the final defeat of North Carolina’s 12-year effort to license an ill-conceived seven-state nuclear waste dump, NC WARN has been working with the NC Radiation Protection Commission to help craft state policy for the long-term management of “low-level” radioactive waste. The RPC was instructed to make a recommendation to the NC General Assembly in May of 2000. We’re happy to report that “No dump” is the recommendation — at least for now. After years of battling the dump siting authority and its barriers to public participation, it’s refreshing to work with the RPC, state regulators and even waste generators to determine the best course of action.
We intend to ensure that communities are no longer targeted for a “low-level” nuclear dump, especially due to ethnic or economic factors, and that private industry retains responsibility for its wastes instead of dumping the burden on taxpayers. We’ll also continue to oppose burial of “low-level” nuclear wastes – a proven failure, especially in rainy climates – and so-called “acceptable” levels of cancers among neighbors of such dumps. Non-utility waste producers create short-lived, less dangerous radioactive waste. Most now store it until it decays or ship it to a dump in the Utah desert (not the best solution).
Ironically, even Duke Power and CP&L/Progress now admit there is no need for an NC dump – at this time, and they can safely store their more dangerous “low-level” waste on site in monitored vaults. NC WARN has argued many years for this method, until a safe and permanent disposal option is found. Much of the national nuclear industry still seeks a future burial ground for its very hot reactors. We’ll be watching carefully to make sure there’s no backroom deal which places the public at risk.