Lawsuit postpones radioactive waste traveling across Peace Bridge

Oct 4, 2016

The possibility of trucks carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste across the Peace Bridge has been pushed back until at least February, as supporters and opponents duel in a federal court.

Opponents of the move of highly radioactive liquid waste from the Canadian nuclear center in Chalk River, ON to an American nuclear center in Savannah River, SC say the $60 million project is wrong in so many ways.

Credit WBFO News file photo

The waste is being shipped back as part of a federal program to retrieve American nuclear materials and then for reprocessing in South Carolina. Opponents say it is a jobs program to keep part of the southern nuclear center operating. However, local environmentalist Lynda Schneekloth says there is a much safer alternative that has been used before.
"They can actually solidify it or concretize it up in Chalk River and then they can ship it in a much safer form," said Schneekloth. "If they ship it as a liquid form, that has never been done. The caskets were not designed for liquid and it doesn't have to happen. So why would you endanger water supplies and people by shipping something that doesn't have to be shipped?"

Solidification is what happened with much of the high-level nuclear waste in the re-processing plant in West Valley. The waste was turned into giant glass logs for storage and shipping.

Diane D'Arrigo, radioactive waste project director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Center, agrees.

"That big tank that's holding the liquid needs to be taken out of service. It's old and it could start leaking," D'Arrigo says. "So what they could easily do is take the liquid that's in there and do what they have been doing with the liquid that's been generated over the past years and make it into a solid like they have done with all the rest of it and it would no longer be a proliferation concern."

Because of federal security rules, it is not clear if the material would come across the Peace Bridge or on one of the other possible routes. However, there is believed to have been a nuclear shipment across the Peace Bridge about a year ago.