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Public Citizen Denounces NRC Proceeding as Sham

Nov. 1, 1999

Public Citizen Denounces NRC Proceeding as Sham

More Radioactive Waste to Show Up in Household Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen joined eight other organizations Monday in opposing a public hearing process that appears to be designed to reach a pre-determined outcome: permitting more radioactive nuclear waste to end up in common household goods without consumers? knowledge.

“The current methods of releasing radioactive waste from commercial licensees and weapons facilities must immediately cease,” says a letter from the groups, delivered Monday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) during a two-day workshop. “No future radioactive releases should be permitted, and a full accounting and recapture of that which has already been released should commence.”

The organizations are refusing to participate in the NRC?s workshops because they doubt the integrity of the process. The workshops, which the NRC is required to hold, concern proposed standards for recycling radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and U.S. Department of Energy facilities into household products. The NRC appears convinced that radioactive waste must be recycled.

Radioactive waste is currently released on a case-by-case basis that involves a cumbersome application process. It goes to a decontamination plant before being sold to scrap metal dealers, but it can still contain contamination. If the NRC sets standards for the release of these radioactive wastes, more of the material will end up in consumer goods because the application process will no longer exist.

“Over and over again, the public has said no to recycling radioactive waste into kid?s braces and grandma?s hip replacement, but the nuclear industry won?t give up,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy Project. “Now the NRC is making a rule that will set the standard for how much radiation our families can be exposed to by consumer products.

“Agency officials want public interest groups to come to their workshops and comment, but only so they can say they have included the public in the decision-making. When you read the NRC materials, they very clearly say that the goal is to ?allow[s] quantities of materials to be released.? Why should we waste our time arguing with the NRC when it has already made up its mind?”

Groups signing the letter include the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Clean Water Action, Friends of the Earth (U.S. and U.K.), Greenpeace, Low Level Radiation Campaign, Peace Action, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Safe Energy Communication Council.