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Here is a letter to send to your Congressional delegation:

May 24, 2005


Dear Representative,

We urge your support for the amendment offered by Representatives Edward Markey and Rush Holt to the FY2006 Energy & Water Development Appropriations which would effectively halt plans to transport 50,000 metric tons of commercial nuclear waste to one or more Department of Energy (DOE) sites for interim storage and reprocessing.

Without any public hearing, language was inserted into the Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill less than two weeks ago creating a new Spent Fuel Recycling Initiative that requires one or more DOE sites to begin receiving nuclear waste from commercial nuclear power plants in 2006 for storage and reprocessing. If DOE sites are not used, the waste could go to other federal government sites or closed military bases. This proposal will not move our country towards a solution for spent fuel.

Interim Storage will not solve the nuclear waste problem. Proponents argue that spent fuel will be safer consolidated at a few DOE sites, but that has not been true in the past. Nuclear power plants will continue to operate and store waste on site where it must cool at least 5 years before transportation. There will be added risks to public health and safety as waste is transported to interim storage sites on busy highways and railroads across the nation. States are far from prepared to begin a massive waste transportation program and interim storage means unnecessary additional shipments of this waste. In addition, no DOE site has been licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for such storage Interim storage at DOE sites is contrary to legal agreements made with states and tribes as DOE has already committed to cleaning up these sites, not adding more pollution to them. Interim storage is not the answer.

Reprocessing will not solve the nuclear waste problem. Proponents argue that reprocessing will free up space in Yucca Mountain but reprocessing actually creates additional wastes that must be managed. Hanford, Idaho and Savannah River, the three DOE sites suggested in the report language, already face a serious problem of over a hundred million gallons of high level reprocessing waste sitting in leaky underground tanks that threaten important water resources because of reprocessing. Reprocessing is massively expensive (tens of billions of dollars). Approximately $70 billion has been spent globally trying to commercialize plutonium. The only private commercial reprocessing facility in the United States, West Valley in New York State, was an economic failure, reprocessing only one year’s worth of fuel in six years and resulting in 600,000 gallons of liquid highly radioactive waste that is still threatening the groundwater more than 20 years later.

Reprocessing is a security threat and weakens the global non-proliferation regime. More than 200 metric tons of plutonium from commercial reprocessing has been separated globally. This plutonium is vulnerable to theft. Reprocessing will send a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. intends to engage in a process that extracts plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons, at a time when the United States is seeking to discourage other nations from acquiring such technologies. This is the wrong message to send to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 2005 Review Conference in New York, where 188 nations are meeting to review compliance with non-proliferation obligations and to consider ways to strengthen the NPT regime. A DOE official admitted in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development on March 17 that DOE has doubts whether the reprocessing technology under study can ever be made "proliferation-resistant."

We urge you to support the Markey-Holt amendment which cuts $15.5 million that was added to the President's FY06 budget request, including $5.5 million from the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative and $10 million from the Nuclear Waste Disposal fund which is designated to initiate the new Spent Fuel Recycling Initiative, and transfers it to energy efficiency and state weatherization programs.

We thank you for your consideration of this important matter. If you have any questions, please contact Michele Boyd at Public Citizen (202-454-5134) or Jim Bridgman at the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (202-544-0217 ext. 3).


Jim Bridgman
Program Director
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
Frank Carl
Executive Director
Savannah Riverkeeper, Inc.
Tom Clements
Senior Adviser, Nuclear Campaign
Greenpeace International
Dr. Thomas B. Cochran
Director, Nuclear Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico
Vina Colley
Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environment Safety & Security (PRESS)
Kevin S. Curtis
Vice President
National Environmental Trust
Kathleen Gwynn
President & CEO
Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation
Wenonah Hauter
Director, Energy Program
Public Citizen
Frank N. von Hippel
Professor of Public and International Affairs
Princeton University
John Isaacs
Executive Director
Council for a Livable World
Peggy Maze Johnson
Executive Director
Citizen Alert, NV
Mary Day Kent
Executive Director
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
United States Section
Bob Kinsey
Colorado Coalition for Prevention of Nuclear War
Adele Kushner
Executive Director
Action for a Clean Environment, GA
Tim Liszewski
Carolina Peace Resource Center, SC
Dr. Edwin S. Lyman
Senior Scientist, Global Security Program
Union of Concerned Scientists
Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action
Jeremy Maxand
Executive Director
Snake River Alliance, ID
Judith Mohling
Rocky Flats and Disarmament Action Collective
of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, CO
Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, M.P.H.
Executive Director and CEO
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Carah Ong
Advocacy and Research Director
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Bobbie Paul
Executive Director
Atlanta WAND
Vanessa Pierce
Program Director
Gerry Pollet
Executive Director
Heart of America Northwest, WA
Alice Slater
GRACE Public Fund
Dr. Paul F. Walker
Legacy Program Director
Global Green USA
Janet Zeller
Executive Director
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League