Friday, June 20, 2008

DOE gives details on erroneous waste shipment

DOE gives details on erroneous waste shipment

From the Current-Argus
By Kyle Marksteiner

Current-Argus Staff Writer
CARLSBAD — The Department of Energy's Carlsbad Field Office has provided its regulators with information detailing why a drum of transuranic waste may have been mistakenly shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad despite extensive procedures designed to keep such a problem from happening.
The drum, which contained a prohibited amount of liquid, has been returned to LANL, but shipments from LANL have been postponed, pending an investigation. An Environmental Protection Agency visit to LANL, originally scheduled for this week, has been pushed back to later in the month.
On Friday, Dave Moody, manager of the Carlsbad Field Office, issued a five-page memo to the EPA outlining the history of the LANL drum that was characterized and shipped despite having an unresolved non-conformance report.
The 55-gallon drum, Moody wrote, was originally examined through real-time radiography and no deficiencies were identified. However, a portion
of waste containers examined through radiography were also required to be examined visually, and the drum in question was selected for a follow up visual examination in 2005. During the visual examination, liquid in excess of 1 percent of the waste container was identified. The drum was tagged as noncompliant and set aside for remediation, Moody wrote. Remediation, in the case of a liquid, could have meant a variety of procedures used to absorb or vacuum the liquid out.
But in April 2008, the non-conformance report for the visual examination was mistakenly dismissed due to an assumption that the condition had been fixed. The drum was overpacked with three other drums from the same waste stream into a standard waste box and shipped to WIPP.
On June 6, employees of Washington TRU Solutions noticed the problem when a routine check of unresolved non-conformance reports identified the drum as already placed within the repository, Moody wrote. Carlsbad officials decided to remove the drum based on the fact that it was emplaced at WIPP with the non-conformance report.
"It should be noted that the prohibition on liquids is based on the volume of the payload container," Moody wrote. "Thus, even though the drum was overpacked for container integrity reasons, the overpacking resolved the prohibited condition."
What checks were in place to make sure such a problem didn't occur?
A primary check, Moody wrote, requires that two people independently ensure that no unresolved non-conformance reports exist prior to the certification of a given waste container. A secondary check requires that all containers issued non-conformance reports be tagged and/or physically segregated. No container is shipped with an NCR tag attached.
The two individuals who approved the drum in the primary check — essentially the paperwork portion of the process — said there were no unresolved non-conformance reports. Moody speculated that they may have missed identifying the non-conformance report partially because nearly all of the waste containers processed at LANL have been tagged for remediation at some point.
"Nearly all of the containers remaining in the inventory similarly require remediation," he wrote. "The condition is more severe at LANL than any other location where (Central Characterization Project) is deployed."
As another reason, Moody wrote, there are only a handful of waste containers that have passed the radiography test but were then considered to be noncompliant due to the visual examination.
"Of the nearly 50,000 containers processed by the CCP, this total population amounts to eight containers," Moody wrote.
Non-conformance reports are sometimes issued against an individual container, Moody wrote, but they also may be issued against a group of containers due to a common problem.
"Accordingly, in this specific instance, both individuals assumed they were looking at a container that had been processed and corrected through remediation," Moody concluded "This assumption led to an inadequate review by both individuals."
The secondary check — physically noting the non-conformance tag — also failed in this instance, and personnel involved with operations have stated that no tags were attached. The presence or absence of the tag will be verified, Moody wrote.
"Our reviews of tagging operations at LANL have shown that tags do, in fact, occasionally become separated from the container," Moody noted. The plastic tie used to secure the tag appears to be the problem, and project employees had already begun substituting metal ties in place of the plastic ones.
So far, Moody wrote, the DOE has examined other shipments and waste containers to verify that there are no other unresolved non-conformance reports. The agency has added workplace meetings and briefings to emphasize the reviewing process and will add two additional interim reviews to ensure no containers are shipped or certified with unresolved non-conformance reports. Additionally, an electronic hold has been placed on all LANL waste containers with unresolved non-conformance reports until every container can be checked to verify that it is appropriately tagged. Plastic ties have also been replaced.
In response to Moody's letter, Environmentalist Don Hancock, with the Southwest Research and Information Center, issued his own letter to the EPA calling for increased segregation of non-compliant containers.
"We urge that EPA require changed procedures and actual physical segregation of containers and that you conduct inspections to insure adequate implementation of those procedures, in addition to inspecting the changes that CBFO proposes, before allowing shipments from LANL to resume," he wrote.
He also called for additional EPA investigations at other sites that send waste to WIPP.
"We believe that the actions (proposed by the DOE) are insufficient and will not provide adequate confidence that such an error will not recur," Hancock wrote.

Lawyers want delay in S.D. AIM slaying trial

Associated Press - June 18, 2008 2:04 PM ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Lawyers for the prosecution and defense are asking a federal judge to delay the trial of a Canadian man charged with killing a fellow American Indian Movement member.

John Graham is scheduled to stand trial in September in Rapid City for the 1975 slaying of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Attorneys have now asked that the two-week trial start in October.

Another man, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted of killing Aquash in 2004 and sentenced to a life prison term.

Witnesses said that he, Graham and another AIM member drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash as she begged for her life.

Graham denies killing her.

Nevada leaders say application has holes

WASHINGTON -- A top Department of Energy official expressed confidence Thursday that the DOE's voluminous application to build a Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository will clear initial license hurdles.

"We believe we have met your requirements in terms of a complete and accurate license application. We have addressed all the acceptance criteria," repository director Ward Sproat told Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff at a briefing.

Sproat, head of the DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, said the application was "complete and high quality." That is the criteria that NRC staff will use to judge whether to docket the DOE bid and initiate comprehensive safety reviews.

But Nevada officials who attended the same briefing said it confirmed to them the Yucca application has holes. They said DOE presenters made clear that more work remains to be done on detailed blueprints for the site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The purpose of the briefing scheduled for two days at NRC headquarters was for DOE to explain how it organized its 8,600 page application packet that was filed June 3, as well as thousands of pages of supporting documents. Officials stressed that issues of substance would not be discussed.

But speaking to reporters during a break, Steve Frishman, technical policy coordinator for the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, argued the level of detail in DOE's application does not meet the NRC's standards.

The level of detail in the application has emerged as an early point of contention in the licensing process.

DOE officials said the plans they submitted are acceptable. Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto filed a petition asking the top NRC commissioners to reject the DOE application as incomplete.

The commission has not ruled but in a legal opinion this week agency attorneys appeared to side with the DOE.

The attorneys said regulations do not require the DOE to "fully describe" all designs, as long as they provide "sufficient information" about components important to safety.

In one of the DOE presentations Thursday, Yucca regulatory director William Boyle said the design detail was consistent with NRC's regulations and its repository review plan. DOE is using NRC-approved methodologies to set the technical boundaries within which the final designs would fit, he said.

Likewise on nuclear waste casks and containers, the DOE evaluated representative designs since it has only recently awarded contracts for the specific multi-purpose canisters that would be used at the site.

Frishman said lack of final designs raises uncertainties about repository safety.

"We believe there should be real designs," Frishman said. "The whole license application is whether the NRC can say whether there will be reasonable assurance the repository is safe. How can you have reasonable assurance when you don't know what the (radiation) doses are to the public."

Martin Malsch, an attorney for Nevada, also questioned whether 196 documents the DOE has submitted as primary references will be considered an official part of the license application.

If the NRC deems they are not part of the application, they may be out of reach from Nevada legal challenges.

The NRC staff has until September to decide whether to docket the repository application for further reviews and hearings that could consume the next three or four years at least.

McCain knows Nevada, does Nevada know McCain?

As someone who clearly knows Nevada well, it's alarming to see Senator John McCain's support of Yucca Mountain, and his longstanding relationship with the project to store nuclear waste in Nevada.

Tip of the hat to

Offshore oil drilling: fighting words in California?

Offshore oil drilling: fighting words in California?


Click photo to enlarge
In this file photo taken in 2005, waves break by an oil platform... (Bruce Chambers / AP file photo)

From Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the state's Democratic leaders, California reacted with a swift thumbs down Wednesday to President Bush's proposal to lift a ban on new oil drilling in coastal waters.

Still, environmentalists and many politicians warn that with record gas prices and global uncertainty about oil production, the pressure to drill will only grow.

Bush on Wednesday joined Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain in calling for the lifting of a 27-year-old prohibition on offshore drilling, spurring memories of decades-old California environmental battles that began with the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

"There is no excuse for delay. . . . Families across the country are looking to Washington for a response," the president said in the Rose Garden.

"Here we go again," said Dan Haifley, who spent 17 years battling oil drilling off the California coast as the coordinator of Santa Cruz-based Save Our Shores. "My guess is that California communities will quickly coalesce to fight against new offshore oil development."

He and other environmentalists said Wednesday that the president's action was disconcerting because they felt the battle was won after Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, signed a 1990 executive order barring most offshore oil drilling.

In 1992, George H.W. Bush signed a bill establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. President Clinton renewed the moratorium in 1998 and extended it

Leon Panetta, who as a Monterey Bay-area congressman was instrumental in stopping offshore oil drilling after Interior Secretary James Watt gave his blessing to lining the coast with oil rigs in the mid-1980s, dismissed Bush's statement as a political ploy.

"I'm not really shocked that Bush said what he said today," said Panetta, who served as Clinton's chief of staff. "It's one of those gimmicks" that political parties use when they can't come up with answers to vexing problems such as soaring energy costs.

The last statewide Field Poll on Californians' feelings toward oil drilling was taken in October 2005. Most said they would not favor loosening restrictions to stem the tide of rising gas prices.

Fifty-six percent of surveyed registered voters said they favored keeping the restrictions; 39 percent said they didn't.

But that poll was before gas hit $4.50 a gallon. That reality - and the fact that the issue has been dormant for so long - is what worries some environmentalists.

"It's been two decades since it's been an issue," said state Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz. "There's a whole generation of Californians not familiar with the facts."

As mayor of Santa Cruz

in the mid-'80s, Laird helped put together a local ballot measure aimed at proposals to drill off the coast.

About 30 other coastal cities enacted similar ordinances that used zoning laws to prevent construction of pipelines, helicopter landing pads and other infrastructure that would be needed to support offshore oil drilling.

"I certainly take the threat from Bush seriously," said Mike Rotkin, a Santa Cruz city councilman who helped push those measures. "We need to build the same broad-based coalition that we did last time to fight it."

Rotkin said the anti-drilling movement was so successful in the '80s because the opposition wasn't limited to "environmental wackos." Fishermen, tourist officials and small-business people all joined the coalition, he said.

"We made it clear to the public that one spill destroys our fishing industry, that one spills destroys our tourist industry," Rotkin said.

Across the country Wednesday, governors in coastal states promised to block attempts to tap offshore oil reserves.

"California's coastline is an international treasure," Schwarzenegger, a McCain ally, said in a statement. "I do not support lifting this moratorium on new oil drilling off our coast."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, also denounced Bush's proposal.

But another McCain supporter, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, reversed his opposition to oil exploration off the state's beaches after McCain said he supported lifting the moratorium. Crist said the issue is about local control.

"I think that not having that moratorium, blanket moratorium, and letting states' rights be recognized, if you will, certainly is appropriate," he said.

Even oil industry officials were cautious Wednesday about Bush's support for more coastal drilling, apparently not wanting to anger a public that is already furious at the industry for soaring gas prices.

"Californians have voiced their opinions on numerous occasions that they do not support or want development of energy resources off their coast. Period," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "We don't advocate a change in those policies because that issue - at least until quite recently - seemed to be decided."

In California, the political voices in support of lifting the moratorium were muted.

Among those supporting Bush was the minority leader in the state Senate.

"Personally, yes, I believe we need to be drilling in our own reserves," Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno, said Wednesday during a news conference related to the state budget. "We need to use the resources available to us in this country."

Contact Ken McLaughlin at or (408) 920-5552.

China shocks with 18 percent fuel price rise

By Chen Aizhu and Carolyn Qu

BEIJING (Reuters) - China unexpectedly raised retail gasoline and diesel prices by up to 18 percent on Thursday, sending oil prices tumbling as Beijing moved to temper demand at the risk of stoking domestic angst over decade-high inflation.

The increase in regulated fuel prices, China's first hike in eight months and its sharpest ever one-off rise, sent crude prices down by as much as $5 a barrel as dealers bet it might slow demand growth from the world's second-largest oil user, while U.S.-listed shares in top refiner Sinopec soared.

After making little progress in recent years toward its long-stated goal of raising energy prices to reflect higher costs and to encourage greater efficiency, China will also increase power tariffs by nearly 5 percent, while freezing thermal coal prices to revive generators' profits.

While neighbours from India to Indonesia have already bowed to the pressures of near $140 oil by scaling back subsidies and raising fuel prices, most analysts had expected Beijing to hold out until after the Olympics in August as policymakers focused on battling inflation and avoiding any hint of social unrest.

However, it comes at a time of mounting international pressure for some kind of action to tame soaring global prices, which have spurred protests worldwide and threaten to cut economic growth.

On Sunday the world's biggest oil producers and consumers will convene a crisis meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to try to halt oil's six-year rally -- blamed by some, including the U.S. Energy Secretary just weeks ago, on subsidies in countries like China that shield consumers from soaring costs.

"This is very significant, a watershed move which suggests the Chinese government is prepared to risk unpopularity to curb the growth in domestic fuel demand," said John Kemp, commodities economist at RBS Sempra in London."

"We've already seen other Asian economies cut subsidies and the one big hold out, until now, was China."

Fearful of stirring popular resentment, Beijing also pledged subsidies to lower-income groups such as farmers, fishermen and cab drivers, similar to the targeted payouts that countries like Malaysia are now adopting as they reduce fuel subsidies that distort markets and benefit the rich more than the poor.

In Beijing and Shanghai, motorists queued for gasoline at petrol stations on Thursday night as word of the price hike leaked out. Police stood by at one Beijing petrol station.


Prices for gasoline and diesel fuel will rise by 1,000 yuan per tonne each effective from midnight, state media reported on Thursday evening.

The 16.7 percent increase in gasoline takes the pump rate to about 75 U.S. cents a litre, still a quarter cheaper than in the United States and about one-third what UK motorists pay. Prices have doubled since 2003, but crude has more than quadrupled.

China also raised jet fuel prices by 1,500 yuan per tonne.

Beijing will raise average electricity tariffs by 0.025 yuan/kwh or about 4.7 percent on average, a rise that will primarily affect industrial and commercial users, the NDRC, China's top planning body, said on its website.

The rise, effective from July 1, is its first broad increase in years and will help avert brownouts by bolstering power companies struggling with the soaring cost of coal, which generates some three quarters of China's electricity. Beijing also said it will freeze thermal coal prices, which are normally allowed to trade freely, a move traders said could prompt more exports into an Asian market now at record highs.

China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, told reporters in Washington after two days of U.S.-China trade talks that, on fuel prices, "the direction of reform and the determination had always been there and the rest is timing."

Asked whether he feared new inflationary pressures from the oil price hike, he said only that more monitoring was needed, while analysts saw an extra percentage point added to inflation.

"When oil prices are high, consumers have to cut expenditures on other items, so demand for other products will be lower," said Gene Ma, chief economist for China Economic Monitor, a Beijing consultancy.


Refiners Sinopec and No. 2 PetroChina, which is less reliant on costly imported crude, will get an immediate boost from the price increase as they bear most of the burden of buying expensive crude and selling their refined gasoline and diesel products at below-cost domestic rates.

Oil prices fell as much as $3 a barrel immediately after the news on worries that demand would be cut. China has raised prices only once since mid-2006, a 10 percent increase in November.

China's rapid demand growth was one of the catalysts for oil's surge from $20 six years ago to a record high of nearly $140 a barrel earlier this week.

(Additional reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; editing by Jim Marshall)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kucinich threatens 60 impeachment articles if Judiciary doesn’t act

Kucinich threatens 60 impeachment articles if Judiciary doesn’t act

By Nick Juliano | Uncategorized | Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Rep. Dennis Kucinich warned the House Judiciary Committee that it would be wise not to ignore the 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush last week. If the committee does not act within a month, he plans to introduce even more articles.

The Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate tells the Washington Post’s Sleuth blog that he’s not giving up his fight to kick Bush out of the White House.

Kucinich tells us he’s giving the House Judiciary Committee 30 days to act on his resolution proposing 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush or else he’ll raise even more hell on the House floor. Thirty-five articles was just the tip of the iceberg. If Judiciary does nothing, he’ll go back to the House floor next month armed with nearly twice as many articles.

“The minute the leadership said ‘this is dead on arrival’ I said that I hope they believe in life after death; because I’m coming back with it,” Kucinich vowed in an interview with the Sleuth this week. “It’s not gonna die. Because I’ll come back with more articles. Not 35, but perhaps 60 articles.”

Elected on a platform of holding the president accountable, the newly Democratic Congress has nonetheless been unwilling to even consider impeachment. A Kucinich-sponsored measure to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney was referred to the Judiciary Committee last November; the Committee has done nothing with it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared impeachment “off the table,” and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has been unwilling to cross her. House Democrats simply do not believe they have enough votes to actually impeach Bush or Cheney, and they are unwilling to dwell on the issue with just a few months left in the current administrations’ term.

Kucinich told the Sleuth that he plans to sit down with Conyers this week to try to convince the chairman to consider at least one article of impeachment, which accused Bush for waging a war “based on lies.”

For Kucinich, impeachment is more than simply a political windmill at which to tilt, he says. It’s about preserving the sanctity of the republic’s founding document.

“What we’re witnessing here,” he says, “is the not-so-slow-moving destruction of our Constitution.”

Related Stories

Uranium concerns voiced at meeting

Government needs to place a moratorium on the practice, public gathering told


MEMRAMCOOK - About 75 people filled the Abbey-Landry School auditorium in Memramcook last night, anxious for assurances that uranium mining in their midst would not be a threat to their health and the environment.

The people, like those at similar meetings held elsewhere in the province in past weeks, are worried about the long-term effects of mining the radioactive material and of the disposal of the mine tailings which remain a hazard to air, soil and water sources for a very long time.

A presentation by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, which organized the meeting, described the mining process and potential dangers, complete with photos of the impact of mining operations in other North American sites. Council spokesman Yvonne Devine talked about radioactive components that pose a deadly threat over thousands of years.

The fact that no MLAs were in the audience to explain their government's position on uranium mining in New Brunswick only exacerbated the issue for some of the audience.

Art Hacking of Calhoun said he was told by one MLA that he knew nothing about uranium mining yet voted against imposing a ban or moratorium, allowing exploration to continue.

A number of sites throughout southeast New Brunswick have been pegged for exploration although there is no guarantee that the exploration will find sufficient quantities of uranium ore to warrant full-scale mining, said Ron Shaw of the Department of Natural Resources. Nor will mining happen overnight. It takes years to go through the process before mining can begin, he said.

Those in attendance wanted to know if anyone in government was an expert in uranium mining and the safe disposal of radioactive materials but no one was there who could answer them.

Memramcook Mayor Donald LeBlanc reminded the gathering that the municipality, among others, adopted resolutions calling for a moratorium or ban while uranium mining is further investigated elsewhere.

British Columbia has banned uranium mining while Nova Scotia upheld a moratorium on mining and exploration.

The City of Moncton also called for a ban of exploration in and near the Turtle Creek watershed.

$4 Gas Limits Lifestyles on Rural Reservations

High Gas Prices Squeeze Rural Reservations

Clockwise from upper left, map shows June 17 prices of unleaded regular gas on the Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne, Menominee, Navajo and Tohono O'odham reservations.American Indian Journalism Institute

$4 Gas Limits Lifestyles on Rural Reservations

VERMILLION, S.D.—Rural Native American communities are tackling declining tourism and unstable business that come with the increased cost of fuel.

Travel and excess spending are no longer luxuries many can afford.

People on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana are asking, "Am I going to eat or put gas in my car?" said Kathy Halloran, the district manager of the Town Pump in Browning there. "It breaks my heart."

Browning is near one entrance to Glacier National Park. Every summer, tourists visit to see wildlife, jagged mountains and glaciers.

"We've certainly seen a decline in tourism," Halloran said. "There's a definite decrease in sales."

The least expensive gasoline in Browning on June 17 was $4.01. Less than a week before, it was $3.98 and at the time, Halloran was not expecting the price to jump beyond $4 for another two weeks.

The national average price of fuel as of June 17 is $4.08, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. That is up almost $2 since February 2007, when it was $2.17.

A sampling of recent fuel prices on Indian reservations showed that the cost of fuel is lower than the national average. Fuel was highest on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana where unleaded gas was $4.24 per gallon. The least expensive for unleaded was on the Tohono O'odham reservation in Arizona at $3.89 per gallon.

For some tribes, the lower prices depend on variations in how fuel is taxed on reservations.

The Blackfeet tribe does not tax fuel. "Our tribe has some kind of pact with the state," said Monte Hammons, assistant manager of Town Pump.

Richard Sanders, business manager of the Cheyenne Depot on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, said the Northern Cheyenne tribe does tax fuel. "You pay tax upfront. After two years, we receive that tax in a rebate form," Sanders said.

The tribe collects the tax, then disburses it two years later, said Sanders. "They divide it up and give it out which I don't agree with," Sanders said.

Regardless of taxes, traveling from remote reservation towns to major cities to buy custom goods is no longer frugal for people battling gas prices. More people are staying home and buying food locally rather than driving great distances, Halloran said.

"They can't drive 100 miles to shop at a big store," she said.

Julie Litzin manages the Conoco gas station in Navajo, N.M., located on the Navajo reservation. Litzin describes traffic as a rollercoaster, going up and down.

"I still think people are traveling," Litzin said. "But people talk about staying home."

Sanders, from Northern Cheyenne, has received complaints from customers about the increase in the price of fuel. "They think it's our fault," Sanders said.

Litzin, of the Navajo reservation, also faces unhappy customers. "I don't have any control over it (gas prices)," Litzin said she tells them.

The difference between needs and wants may be the deciding factor whether some people stay home or travel, Sanders said.

"People are gassing up less. I think it comes down to necessity," Sanders said.

Said Halloran, "It's a huge impact on Native Americans ... and that's the power of companies."

[EDITORS' NOTE: This story was written as a class assignment at the American Indian Journalism Institute and originally published on AIJI: Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. It is used with permission.]

Comment on the Whirlwind Uranium Mine in Gateway, CO.

Comment on the Whirlwind Uranium Mine in Gateway, CO.

The Environmental Assessment for the Whirlwind Uranium Mine has been released by the BLM - Grand Junction Field Office. You can view the document online at:

Sorry for the short notice, but comments are due FRIDAY, JUNE 20.

This is your chance to get involved and comment on the proposed uranium mine in the Gateway area. The proposed mine could have significant impacts on human health, wildlife, recreation opportunities, and water quality. The current environmental assessment, or EA, does not adequately analyze the real world on the ground impacts from a regional resurgence of uranium mining and milling. A few of the concerns include:

Uranium dust from mine sites has been sited as one of the largest human health concerns related to uranium mining. The EA must go to greater lengths in describing how radioparticulates will be controlled.

The significant increase in truck traffic on John Brown Road will not only effect the quiet nature of this recreation area, there will also contribute to degredated water quality along Colorado rivers and streams. The alternative routes for transporting the ore as mentioned in the EA are not identified, or assessed for safety and other concerns.

The EA does not consider the cumulative effects this mine in conjunction with other uranium mills and mines will have on roads, safety, human health, air quality, and water quality. Stockpiles of uranium ore, both current and future, should be secure and maintained, which is not address in the EA. With 32 permitted and active uranium projects in Colorado, we must insure that knowledge and wisdom from the past regarding uranium activities be applied to present developments.

Comments specific to the BLM?s EA may be submitted electronically to, or by mail to BLM Whirlwind Mine EA, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506. To facilitate a successful planning effort, BLM requests that you make comments as specific as possible and include suggested changes, sources, methodologies, and reference to a section or page number.

Terry Shepherd
Executive Director
Red Rock Forests
90 W. Center St.
Moab, UT 84532

- - -

Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2008 08:51:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sarah Fields
Subject: [SUEL] Proposed Whirlwind Mine Routes through Grand County

To All:

To view the Whirlwind Mine Plan of Operation and the Preliminary Environmental Assessment:

Of importance are the transportation routes shown in Map M-2. Three alternative routes go through the La Sal Mountains. Route B connects with the La Sal Mt. Loop Road, dropping down through Castle Valley. Route D takes the other end of the La Sal Mt. Loop Road into Spanish Valley. Route C goes south through National and State Forest lands, connecting to Rt. 46, east of La Sal. The map and the information in the Plan of Operations do not give clear information about where the ore would go after reaching state roads. Initially, the ore would go to the White Mesa Mill.

The Plan of Operation contains information about the alternative transportation routes on pages 67-69. The Plan of Operation includes a letter Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning regarding a Level I Traffic Study. The letter states that "three secondary routes via Grand County, Utah, roads to Utah highways may also be used, especially in the summer when weather conditions are more favorable."

The Plan does not contain similar letters to Grand County, the Manti La Sal National Forest Service, San Juan County, or the State of Utah.

Sarah Fields
Uranium Watch

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

House panel approves full funding for Yucca

WASHINGTON -- A House panel beginning the process of writing an energy spending bill for next year voted Tuesday to fully fund the Energy Department's request for the Yucca Mountain Project.

The action by the House energy and water subcommittee was expected. Its leaders customarily support the government's planned nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The House bill contains $474.7 million for the Yucca project, the amount that DOE requested, according to subcommittee chairman Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.

The test for the Department of Energy program usually comes later in the year when the energy spending bill reaches the Senate. That is where repository opponent Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., tries to force cuts.Visclosky also said funding is being increased for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the safety agency that is considering a repository construction application that DOE submitted earlier this month.

Visclosky, speaking to reporters following the subcommittee meeting, said he did not have the NRC budget figures immediately available.

For Yucca Mountain activities, the NRC had requested $37.3 million for fiscal 2009, which is $8.3 million more than what Congress supplied for the current year.

The NRC's total budget request was $1.02 billion, of which about 90 percent is funded by the nuclear industry through user fees.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Debate over Yucca continues

Debate over Yucca continues
With Department of Energy taking major step toward construction, educators and lawmakers weigh in
The controversial Yucca Mountain Project took a giant leap forward June 3, when the United States Department of Energy submitted its licensing application for approval to begin construction on the proposed nuclear waste repository.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission now has 90 days to review the application to determine if it is complete. If accepted, the NRC will have three to four years to determine if construction can begin.

Yucca Mountain, which has come under fire since 1978 when talks of the project first began, is again creating a buzz among Nevadans who are adamant in halting its production.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a longtime opponent of the project, said the application "is shoddy at best."

"I'll say it as clear as day: Yucca Mountain will never happen," Reid said. "For more than two decades, I've fought the terrible idea to store all of the nation's dangerous nuclear waste in Nevada tooth and nail, and we have been successful in fending it off at nearly every turn."

Yucca Mountain is located about 90 miles from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, and due to various delays, there is currently no official date set for its opening.

Despite decades of research on the project, the current application from the DOE has not addressed some of the most important concerns associated with the facility, according to Reid.

"The DOE application is as flawed as everything else the government has proposed about the dump," he said.

Because the site is relatively close to Las Vegas' major groundwater supply in an area known for earthquakes and volcanic activity, Reid said the application should, but does not prove the safeness of the water storage containers, partly because they have not yet been designed.

He added that the DOE knows the containers will eventually corrode, allowing radiation to contaminate Nevada's drinking water supply. The application's lack of an emergency response plan is another issue, he said.

David Hassenzahl, chair and associate professor of the Department of Environmental Studies at UNLV, is an expert on the topic and said the most pressing concern with Yucca Mountain is that transportation of the waste would be too dangerous.

"The biggest risk is most likely the … large, heavy trucks and trains moving across the country," he said. "We can reasonably expect a number of accidents if we ship it across country, [but] we won't have these accidents if we don't ship it."

Reid agrees, saying that shipping 77,000 tons of nuclear waste across the country is an "invitation for trouble," and that these "rolling dirty bombs" could serve as a target for terrorists.

Many opponents argue that there's no rush to bury the waste, but that because the government is legally bound to collect it, politicians are prematurely pushing for completion of the project.

UNLV Environmental Studies Professor Helen Neill, has done extensive research on the Nevada Test Site and said that through her work on the subject, she has found that Nevadans are hesitant in accepting the Yucca Mountain plan based on past experiences.

"There is a healthy dose of skepticism out there," she said. "This skepticism is based on history. [It's] a recognition that we do already have contamination out there."

Instead of pushing this risky project, Hassenzahl suggests an on-site dry cask storage system. While it would be costly up front, he said, it would be much safer in the long run. Additionally, the submittal of the DOE's application is again putting Yucca Mountain in the headlines and pitting presidential hopefuls senators Barack Obama and John McCain against one another.

According to her research so far, roughly 35 percent of people – the majority of whom live in areas close to the proposed site – have responded in the open-ended section of the survey that Yucca Mountain concerns th

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nuclear foes seek voice

Nuclear foes seek voice

Canadian plans would place nuclear plant waste a mile from Lake Huron

SPEAKING OUT: Howard Heideman, a St. Clair County commissioner, voices his concerns with the St. Clair County Water Quality Board about the dangers of a proposed nuclear dump less than a mile from Lake Huron near Kincardine, Ontario.

SPEAKING OUT: Howard Heideman, a St. Clair County commissioner, voices his concerns with the St. Clair County Water Quality Board about the dangers of a proposed nuclear dump less than a mile from Lake Huron near Kincardine, Ontario. (By WENDY TORELLO, Times Herald)

Times Herald

• June 16, 2008

In 1989, fierce local opposition killed a proposal to build a 16,000-acre landfill for radioactive waste in western St. Clair County.

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Now, with a proposal to build a massive radioactive waste "repository" on the Canadian shore of Lake Huron, Lynn Township resident Kay Cumbow is attempting to re-stoke that opposition.

"It's just insanity to put a huge amount of waste -- waste that will last for millennia -- right next to the Great Lakes," Cumbow said. "This is just a giant experiment. It's unprecedented."

Cumbow, chairwoman for the Michigan chapter of Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, was referring to the Deep Geological Repository, a structure planned by Ontario nuclear officials. If built, the repository would be beneath the Bruce Nuclear Site in Kincardine, Ontario. Buried in shale and limestone less than a mile from the lake, the 2,150-foot deep landfill will hold the low- and medium-level waste generated by all of Ontario's 20 nuclear power plants.

Though the plan is in its early stages, Cumbow said if local action isn't taken soon, residents in the Blue Water Area won't get another shot to voice their concerns.

Friday is the last day for the public to comment on the project's draft Environmental Impact Statement and the draft Joint Review Panel agreement.

"People in Port Huron and downstream should care about this because most of us get our
drinking water from the lakes," she said. Kincardine is 120 miles from Port Huron and is across the lake from the tip of the thumb. Almost 40 million people rely on drinking water from the lakes downstream of the proposed dump, from Port Huron to Buffalo, New York.

Comments made before the deadline will be considered by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Final guidelines for the project will be determined after the close of the comment period.

Also, a panel will be named to oversee and review the project. Cumbow fears that if people don't speak up now, members of Canada's "nuclear establishment" will guide the project to completion.

Marie Wilson, spokeswoman for Ontario Power Generation, said there is little to worry about because the project is in an investigative stage and far from a final decision.

OPG, Ontario's public power company, owns all of the province's nuclear power plants and is leading the repository project.

"It's a proposed project and we are going through a very lengthy proposal," Wilson said. "There is a series of multi-step, multi-phased scene investigations at the site for this project."

The total project is estimated to cost $850 million, with $67 million reserved for the work leading up to the final public hearing, which Wilson said would take place in 2012.

So far, she said, the site looks promising.

"We had some excellent, excellent indications that the expectations for the rock properties are what we expected," she said. "There's a growing consensus among the geoscientific community that the repository site is very suitable."

Leading OPG's study are nuclear experts from around the world. Among them, F. Joseph Pearson, a groundwater geochemist from North Carolina; Andreas Gautschi from Nagra, the Swiss National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste; and Jacques Delay, from the French Nuclear Waste Management Geoscience Research program.

"Ontario Power Generation is not going to build this unless it's absolutely safe to do so," Wilson said, adding that she lives within two miles of the site.

She would not speculate about what scientists could discover to derail the project.

The power company's reassurances haven't quelled local dissent.

In May, the Macomb County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution requesting more time in the project's initial stages for study and input.

"You don't put this kind of thing in the Great Lakes basin. Who in their right mind would come up with an idea like this?" Doug Martz said last month. Martz is chairman of the Macomb County Water Quality Board, which recommended the resolution to the county commissioners.

Last Thursday, the St. Clair County Water Quality Board unanimously approved a similar resolution and intend to send it along to the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners for review.

"(Members of the water quality board) said they feel that (OPG) never reached out to Michigan or any other communities outside of the immediately affected area," Geoff Donaldson said. Donaldson, a senior planner at the county's Metropolitan Planning Commission, provides administrative support for the board.

"A lot of the communities haven't had a lot of time to think about this and see if they want to comment on it," he added.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fiscally Responsible John McCain

Fiscally Responsible John McCain

June 14, 2008 ·

John McCain’s new Senate Financial Disclosure Form, look like he was either running his campaign off the American Express Platinum Card his wife gave him, or they have one hell of a high living lifestyle.

The bulk of the McCains’ obligations stemmed from a pair of American Express credit cards that are held in Cindy McCain’s name. According to the disclosure reports, which present information on debts in a range rather than providing a precise figure, Mrs. McCain owed $100,000 to $250,000 on each card.

I know what American Express charges for interest on a Platinum Card. A fiscally responsible household should probably sell some of the million of Anheuser-Busch stock they own and stop paying that 17% ARP on $500,000 worth of Amex charges. There are some other stark contrasts between the McCains and the Obamas. The McCains have a net worth around $40 million, almost all of it from Cindy’s holdings. The Obama’s net worth is closer to $4 million, most of it earned from Barack’s two recent books. Instead of going into debt they have managed to put $250,000 in a college savings account for their two daughters.

McCain’s books don’t seem to do very well. Whereas Obama earned $ 4 million in the last year in book royalties, McCain only earned $176,488.