Two top Massachusetts officials on Friday called on the federal government to fulfill its obligation to dispose of spent nuclear fuel stored in the Commonwealth and around the country.
State attorney general Martha Coakley and state Senate president Therese Murray on Friday sent a letter to a bipartisan group of US senators, calling on them to pass a piece of legislation that would, among other actions, create a new federal Nuclear Waste Administration and move toward the creation of a long-stalled permanent storage facility for high-level nuclear waste.
There is no central federal facility for very radioactive nuclear waste, such as spent fuel from commercial power plants. That means the waste is usually stored on the site of the power plant where the fuel was used, including plants in New England, such as Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
Murray and Coakley, both of whom have expressed concern about Pilgrim’s stored nuclear waste over the years, sent the letter in support of the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013.
“This legislation will establish long-needed procedures to move this waste to a permanent offsite location and ensure the safety of our communities and the quality of our environment,” said Murray, a Plymouth resident, in a statement. It is “the responsibility of our Congress to act quickly on this matter.”
“This is a public safety issue,” Coakley said in a statement, “and the federal government has an obligation to act.”
Murray and Coakley said in the letter that when Pilgrim and other reactors were licensed by the federal government in the 1970s, “regulators assumed that the spent fuel would be transferred offsite to a permanent disposal facility. More than 40 years later, a permanent repository still has not been constructed.”
In a phone interview Monday evening, Coakley said the government’s delay was irksome and it was long past time for the federal government to finally make a substantive move on resolving this issue.
“It is frustrating. And I know that the Senate president, with Plymouth in her district, lives with this,” Coakley said. “This is not an abstract problem for many people in Massachusetts.”
In the letter, Murray and Coakley make the case that spent fuel on the sites of nuclear plants is not as safe as it would be in a central repository.
Carol Wightman, a spokeswoman for Pilgrim, agreed that the federal government has an obligation to take spent fuel. “We support a single repository for spent fuel,” she said.
But, Wightman said, the temporary storage mechanisms in place at Pilgrim are safe.
Since the 1980s, the US government has planned to create a central repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But that project, opposed by President Obama and US Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada, is essentially stalled, probably permanently.
The draft legislation supported by Murray and Coakley would create an agency to pick a new permanent storage site and, in the interim, come up with temporary storage facilities for nuclear waste.
“This specific bill doesn’t solve all the problems,” Coakley said in the interview, “but we felt it was good place to start.”
Lost and alone, Deb made a decision to reclaim the only home she’d ever had, whatever the risk.Continue reading »
If the public decides you should not be held accountable for what you did as a drunken 17-year-old, some wondered, what message does that send today’s 17-year-olds?Continue reading »
The gas lines that wend through the state, beneath city streets, and into people’s homes are overseen by a patchwork of bureaucracies and a regulatory system that largely trusts utility companies to police themselves.Continue reading »
The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he later died, according to Boston Police.Continue reading »
The civil commitment release procedure for sex offenders has been under scrutiny since two psychologists concluded that convicted child rapist Wayne Chapman, 70, was no longer sexually dangerous and could be set free.Continue reading »
A man later called police and said he had “accidently left the child” in a shopping cart after a trip to the store.Continue reading »
Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor can no longer let customers request meat from lobsters sedated with marijuana.Continue reading »
The bizarre case of a Red Sox division title banner that went missing came to an end Wednesday when a Malden man who says he found it in Somerville brought it to Fenway Park.Continue reading »
The Theta Mu chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was charged by a Hampshire grand jury with two counts of procuring alcohol for a minor, and two counts of hazing.Continue reading »