Do nuclear waste dumps again threaten Minnesota?

the US Department of Energy is working on a scheme to get communities to “consent” to hosting nuclear (spent fuel) waste dumps.  (Yucca Mountain being dead, they want to find other locations.)  Northern Minnesota has in the past been a target for nuke waste dumping, and could be so again.  DOE held a “public meeting” in Minneapolis on July 21st.  Carol and I attended.  Video and transcript are here.  John Tuma, a member of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, was the keynote speaker.

My comments as they appear in the transcript:

Mr. Allen Muller. My name is Alan Muller. I had a small environmental NGO and I have residences in
Red Wing, Minnesota, and Port Penn, Delaware, and from both of those locations, I can look out my
office window and see reactors.
I want to share with you the thought before I ask my question that with all due respect to the very
accomplished people on this panel, none of them in my view represent my interests. And the only way
that my interests are being injected into this discussion is through people having the gumption to stand up
and say things that you don’t want them to say, and you don’t want them to be talking. So that’s my
comment to you on the format of the meeting.
I read this consent-based siting report that the Blue Ribbon Commission put out a couple of years ago,
and I asked myself is it possible to imagine that a truly informed community in which the local officials
have not had their integrity and independence suborned – that is fully informed – would actually consent
to a nuclear waste storage facility? And I’m not able to imagine that. And having thought about it for a
couple of years, and listened to you folks for the last two hours, I’m still unable to imagine it.
So if anyone would care to comment on just what could you say that would give some assurance that a
community – an informed community, an independent community – a community that hasn’t been paid
off, actually would consent to host a radioactive waste management facility? Okay, that’s my question.
[Applause].
Mr. Jim Hamilton. Thank you for that.

Allen [no surname provided]. It seems to me that whenever a delegation from DOE or the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission shows up in Minnesota for some kind of evolution or event, the people are very
courteous; very bright; very gracious; very patient in the face of strongly worded criticism and so on.

But somehow it always has a feel to me that the nuclear industry is the dog and the tail is being wagged
by the dog [and the tail] is the federal entities that are supposed to be representing the public interest. And
that kind of bothers me. It would be – and I’m kind of repeating what other people have said – but it
would be very useful and helpful to have a DOE delegation show up and present a program for the rapid
phase-out of the civilian nuclear industry. It would be very nice to see like a rational program for the
replacement of that capacity as it’s shut down, rather than just totally passive reports from EIA saying that
the future is going to be the same as the past.
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And nuclear waste management is a very complex issue. It’s complex economically; it’s complex
technically; it’s complex politically; it’s complex emotionally – it appears to be so complex on so many
levels that it’s insoluble. And I don’t know whether it has to be insoluble, but I would like to see a
proposal for solving this problem. For getting this waste somewhere where it eventually would be less
dangerous and less harmful than it is now sitting around in pools and waste cask parking lots.
Rather than coming to us suggesting that we ought to help you develop a program to get communities to
consent to the siting of facilities that are not in any obvious way part of any rational program for
managing the issue, just isn’t very satisfactory. I think you can and should do better than that.

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