Recently, we have seen letters touting “reprocessing” as the answer to the nation’s long-standing nuclear waste problems. As one writer put it: “I think that economically and scientifically there are few arguments that can be made against it” (Mark Eckert, the Tribune. March 31, section B4).
But the Ford and Carter administrations scrapped the U.S. reprocessing program in the late ’70s precisely because of the abundance of problems associated with it. It was deemed too expensive and too polluting in terms of further radioactive contamination. Worst of all, reprocessing doesn’t “recycle” the waste. It creates new radioactive wastes, some which can be directly converted into nuclear weapons, increasing proliferation risks.
Meanwhile, reprocessing plants in Europe, Russia, and Japan are plagued by radiation leaks and other scandalous problems. The Union of Concerned Scientists considers reprocessing as “dangerous, dirty and expensive.” Moreover, especially since 9/11, further concerns have emerged, such as nuclear terrorism or accidents during frequent shipments. Overall, reprocessing was a bad idea then and is an even worse idea now.
We’d be better off to recognize the fact that high-level radioactive waste will be stored at Diablo for a very long time to come. Instead of hoping for “pie in the sky” solutions, we should be demanding safer storage of this deadly waste at Diablo. Express your concerns to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in SLO on Thursday, May 28, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 pm or at 7 p.m., at the Embassy Suites Hotel.