For release Wednesday, April 4
For further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 669-0468
Despite federal budget constraints and lessons from the Japanese disaster, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to pursue risky nuclear programs, which will cost taxpayers more than $100 billion, according to a report released today.Nuclear Reality Check$: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Most Dangerous, Budget Busting Proposals, analyzes nine high-risk projects. They include subsidies for reactor construction, financing for new plutonium and uranium production plants, and development of new nuclear weapons. Many of these projects are far behind schedule with large cost overruns.
Members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of organizations from communities near U.S. nuclear facilities, authored the report. ANA leaders spoke at a National Press Club news conference launching their 23rd annual “DC Days.” Scores of activists from across the country will hold more than 125 meetings with Obama Administration and Congressional officials.
“The private sector viewed investment in nuclear reactors as too risky even before the disasters at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility, said Michele Boyd, Director of the Safe Energy Program at Physicians for Social Responsibility.”Washington still wants taxpayers to guarantee multi-billion dollar loans for new reactor construction. That leaves the public on the hook if something goes wrong.”
Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth added, “Mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium reactor fuel has huge environmental, safety and budget risks. It is likely contributing to contamination at the Daiichi 3 reactor. DOE’s $5-billion MOX facility at the Savannah River Site, South Carolina, is nine years behind schedule and projected to cost three times its original budget. Yet, no new nuclear reactors have been identified to use MOX.”
Delays and cost-overruns also plague new nuclear weapons plants being built by DOE, according to ANA Director Susan Gordon. “The Uranium Processing Facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility at Los Alamos, New Mexico are each ten times over-budget and more than a decade late, Gordon noted. “There is no need for either, however, since the U.S. is supposed to be reducing its arsenal.”
At the same time DOE’s weapons budget is soaring, the agency’s cleanup of the toxic and radioactive legacy of nuclear materials production is underfunding and missing legal deadlines. “Part of the reason,” explained Tom Carpenter, Executive Director of Hanford Challenge “is DOE mismanagement of high-risk projects such as the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, which is now 240% over-budget and a decade late.”
Based on the findings in its report, ANA members will be urging Obama Administration and Congressional leaders to:
· Cut-off current loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and block plans for new subsidies;
lt funding for the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel plant and dispose of surplus plutonium through immobilization;
· Suspend new nuclear weapons projects and require a review by independent scientists to determine if new facilities and weapons are needed; and
· Conduct regular audits of DOE projects and hold managers accountable for significant cost overruns and delays;
ANA DC Days runs through Wednesday, April 6. On Tuesday evening, April 5, ANA will host an Awards Reception honoring leaders in the movement for more responsible nuclear policies. Awardees include U.S. Senator John Kerry, whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom activist Carol Urner, and Chernobyl accident cleanup leader Natalia Mansurova. The event will take place at 6:00pm the Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave. N.E, Washington, DC.
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-- ANA’s report on high-risk nuclear projects and other briefing materials about current nuclear weapons issues are online at: