Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice: Relaxing nuclear reactor regulations could endanger citizens, environment

Contact: Bill Christofferson 414/587-6577 or Chamomile Nusz, 715/281-4776

Wisconsin’s current law on nuclear power plants provides “vital protections to Wisconsin’s consumers, environment, and future generations” that would be lost if proposed changes are made, the co-chairs of a statewide network of 165 organizations told Gov. Jim Doyle and state legislators Thursday.

There is no solution to the problem of how to permanently store the dangerous high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants, they said in a letter to Doyle and lawmakers.

“More dangerous, high-level radioactive waste is being produced every day, and being stored on-site next to the reactors, with no permanent solution,” co-chairs Chamomile and Bill Christofferson of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice wrote.

“Licensing even more nuclear plants to produce more waste without a permanent disposal site is worse than irresponsible. It is unconscionable.”

Current law requires that a federal facility be operating before more nuclear reactors can be licensed in the state, but the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming recommended eliminating that requirement.


April 2, 2009

Wisconsin State Legislators

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle

State Capitol

Madison, WI 53707

Re: Modifications to Wis. Stat. § 196.493, the nuclear power plant law.

Dear Governor Doyle, Senators and Representatives,

As co-chairs of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, a statewide network of 165 organizations working for social justice and a sustainable world, we ask you to continue Wisconsin’s long-standing and reasonable limitations on the construction of new nuclear plants specified in Wis. Stats. 196.493.

Although Governor Doyle’s Task Force on Global Warming recommended changes to the nuclear power plant law, we believe that the current law provides vital protections to Wisconsin’s consumers, environment, and future generations – protections the proposed change would remove.

Current law requires that before the Public Service Commission (PSC) can authorize the construction of a nuclear plant:

“a federally licensed facility … with adequate capacity to dispose of high-level nuclear waste from all nuclear power plants operating in this state will be available, as necessary, for disposal of the waste,” s. 196.493(2)(a)

For more than 50 years, the nuclear industry and the federal government have failed to solve this critical problem, while promising that a solution is just around the corner.

More dangerous, high-level radioactive waste is being produced every day, and being stored on-site next to the reactors, with no permanent solution. Licensing even more nuclear plants to produce more waste without a permanent disposal site is worse than irresponsible. It is unconscionable.

The radioactivity in the waste is so dangerous to humans and to the environment, and so long-lasting, that it must be kept out of the environment and away from people for as long as one million years, the Environmental Protection Agency has ruled. To put that into some perspective, a “mere” 15,000 years ago Wisconsin was covered by glaciers.

Wisconsin’s granite formations have been on the federal list of potential nuclear waste sites in the past. The state’s citizens, in a statewide referendum in 1983, rejected the idea of a high-level waste site in the state by an 8 to 1 margin. But the issue is not closed, and relaxing restrictions on nuclear reactor licensing could open the door to consideration of Wisconsin as a nuclear waste dump once again.

Nuclear power makes no more sense today than it did when the law was passed in 1983. Wisconsin must address the climate crisis, but renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.

Please keep the current protections in place.

Sincerely,

Bill Christofferson, Milwaukee,

414/486-9651, [email protected]

Chamomile Nusz, Amherst,

715/824-3463, [email protected]

Co-chairs