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2004-03-16, 10:35 a.m.

Bush EPA Seeks Weaker Control Over Transport of Hazardous Waste

The Bush Administration is on the verge of approving new transportation regulations (TSR-1) that would exempt various levels of radioactive material from regulatory control while in transit. Public comment on EPA's controversial reclassification proposal closes this Wednesday, March 17.[1]

EPA has also joined the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Departments of Energy and Transportation in seeking to redefine radioactive materials, including nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and naturally occurring materials (see last Friday's March 12 BushGreenwatch, below).

The new class of material, categorized as Below Regulatory Concern, would not be subject to radioactive regulatory controls. Exempting radionuclides from regulation, labeling or control during transit will also make it easier for the EPA and NRC to deregulate hazardous nuclear waste.[2]

Allowing an increase of unregulated nuclear material on the nation's roads, rails, barges and aircraft is of special concern due to homeland security worries over the transportation of nuclear material possibly enabling a dirty bomb.[3]

"Everyone recognizes this as a very serious threat. The last thing we need is to make this easier," Rick Hind, toxics director at Greenpeace, told BushGreenwatch. "This is yet another example of inadequate public health protection in favor of sweetheart deals for industry."

A major study also found that transportation-related accidents have the potential to cause greater numbers of deaths, injuries and possible large-scale evacuations.[4]

"Radioactive waste is extremely dangerous stuff, probably the most dangerous material that can be shipped," said Fred Millar, former toxics director at Friends of the Earth. "Even a tiny release could be catastrophic in an urban area."

###

TAKE ACTION

The deadline for comments is March 17th, so act quickly and spread the word. Email the EPA @ [email protected] and let them know you oppose federal rules that would deregulate and exempt nuclear materials from regulation. Send a copy of your comment to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt @ [email protected]

###

SOURCES:

[1] Diane D'Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, [email protected]

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] A National Risk Assessment for Selected Hazardous Materials Transportation,

~~~

Bush EPA Seeks Weaker Rules for Radioactive Waste

If the Bush Administration has its way, radioactive waste will soon be officially no different than ordinary trash--meaning it could be dumped into your nearby town landfill.

Long a dream--and goal--of the nuclear industry, the Bush EPA is actively considering a reclassification, or redefinition, of what constitutes radioactive waste. The period for public comment on the controversial proposal expires this Wednesday, March 17.

The nuclear industry has been pushing for such a redefinition of contaminated "low-activity" waste for over a decade. Sending this waste to an ordinary landfill or hazardous waste handler (if radioactive material is mixed with hazardous waste) would be cheaper than disposal at facililities licensed to handle radioactive materials, which is what current EPA regulation requires.

In November, when the proposed deregulation was announced, a coalition of prominent leaders from environmental, recycling, and nuclear watchdog groups wrote to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, warning that this change "could significantly harm the environment and public health." The group also noted that such a change could result in "public outrage".[1]

"The scientific and medical communities agree that there is no safe level of exposure to radioactive material," Ed Hopkins, director of the environmental quality program for the Sierra Club, told BushGreenwatch. "Radioactive wastes should be carefully contained and isolated, not spread throughout the environment. Only the nuclear industry benefits from deregulating and recycling radioactive waste."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's past efforts to reclassify radioactive wastes to allow for cheaper disposal, which date from 1986, have prompted strong opposition. In 1992, Congress overturned NRC waste reclassification policies, which went by the term "Below Regulatory Concern". From 1992-1996, 15 states passed laws or regulations aimed at continued regulatory control over the disposal of radioactive materials.[2]

The EPA reclassification proposal dovetails with complementary proposals under consideration by other government agencies, including the NRC, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Transportation, to relax or remove regulations now governing the transportation and disposal of radioactive materials.[3]

The proposed deregulation could also threaten the ability of states to regulate radioactive wastes and protect their citizens.

###

TAKE ACTION

The deadline for comments is March 17th, so act quickly and spread the word. Email the EPA @ [email protected] and let them know you oppose federal rules that would deregulate and exempt nuclear materials from regulation. Send a copy of your comment to @ EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt [email protected]

###

SOURCES:

[1] Coalition letter to Mike Leavitt, Nov. 17, 2003.

[2] Diane D'Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, [email protected]

[3] Ibid.


previous entries:

Anyone? - 2008-01-24
Saturday Film Series at The Free Speech Zone - 2005-12-30
SLC? - 2005-12-21
Please Post - 2005-07-24
From ImpeachBush.org - 2005-06-20

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