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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • April 24, 2013

    The Commons

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    In Alvarez’s opinion, the state of Vermont “should be prepared for the real possibility that spent nuclear fuel will remain on-site and require careful and expensive management for decades to come, whether or not VY [Vermont Yankee nuclear plant] keeps operating.”

    However, Alvarez said, part of the problem in the relationship between the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] and nuclear industry is that operating license requirements, intended to ensure safe operating conditions, have changed in favor of the operators.

    “If you can’t meet the rule, you move the goal post,” Alvarez said . . . “The NRC basically adopted the economic motivations of the entities it regulates.” 

  • April 19, 2013

    The Rutland Herald (Rutland, VT)

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    "A former U.S. Department of Energy official told Vermont lawmakers Thursday that nuclear plants like Vermont Yankee pose big risks in their handling of nuclear waste — both financial and radiological.

    "The testimony of Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, comes as some lawmakers are urging that Vermont consider a new tax on the highly radioactive nuclear waste being stored at the Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon. Alvarez said Minnesota levies such a tax.

    "Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser at the federal Department of Energy, told the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee that Vermont Yankee has generated more than 600 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste during its 41 years of operation. He urged that it be moved more quickly from the plant’s spent fuel storage pool to dry concrete and steel casks on the plant’s grounds, where he said it would be safer."

  • April 10, 2013

    Las Vegas Review-Journal

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    Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies and a former Department of Energy senior adviser, is highly critical of the disposal plan, suggesting the department is “moving the goalposts” to justify burying the waste in Nevada rather than a more expensive disposal strategy.

    “This, in my mind, creates a very terrible precedent because if this administration is concerned about control of loose nukes as it says it is, it shouldn’t be setting such an exceptionally bad example, disposing of essentially weapons-usable material in a landfill with a promise it will be 40-feet deep and don’t worry nobody will find it, we will have plenty of guards,” Alvarez said.

  • March 28, 2013

    Progress Illinois

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    In the first five years after the reactor closed, Sacramento County child-cancer rates for ages zero to 19 fell 13.6 percent, while the rest of the state remained virtually unchanged, according to the report.

    After five years, the child-cancer county rate remained below the state's incidents.

    “The federal government, unfortunately, has been caught up in a conflict of interest about the effects of ionizing radiation mainly because of its role in establishing nuclear weapons and usage of atomic energy to generate electricity,” said Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, who focuses on nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies.

    “I think we need to keep a careful eye on how the government proceeds in doing these studies, and that I think there needs to be much more support for independent studies of this kind.”

  • February 28, 2013

    The Augusta (GA) Chronicle

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    “Because of its proximity to most of the nation’s reactors, access to ports, and its nuclear material processing history, Savannah River Site in South Caro­li­na is considered by some to be a prime candidate for the interim storage and reprocessing of spent power reactor fuel,” wrote Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank.

    . . . Alvarez, a former U.S. De­part­ment of Energy adviser, calculated such a facility at SRS would likely involve “hundreds to thousands of shipments of dry canisters” moved by rail or truck.

    Citing spent nuclear fuel data from the Nuclear Energy Institute, a pilot storage facility there might store as much as 5,000 metric tons containing more than 1 billion curies of intermediate and long-lived radioactive wastes, the report said.

    “This (is) more than twice the radioactivity currently contained in high-level wastes stored at the SRS site, which already has the single largest concentration of radioactivity of any DOE site,” Alvarez wrote.

  • February 28, 2013

    The Augusta (GA) Chronicle

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    “Because of its proximity to most of the nation’s reactors, access to ports, and its nuclear material processing history, Savannah River Site in South Caro­li­na is considered by some to be a prime candidate for the interim storage and reprocessing of spent power reactor fuel,” wrote Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank.

    The nation’s spent fuel inventory – more than 75,000 tons – was to be buried in a repository in Nevada’s Yucca Moun­tain until the project was halted by the administration, whose Blue Ribbon Commission suggested “consolidated, interim storage” of the dangerous material until a solution can be found.

    Alvarez, a former U.S. De­part­ment of Energy adviser, calculated such a facility at SRS would likely involve “hundreds to thousands of shipments of dry canisters” moved by rail or truck.

    Citing spent nuclear fuel data from the Nuclear Energy Institute, a pilot storage facility there might store as much as 5,000 metric tons containing more than 1 billion curies of intermediate and long-lived radioactive wastes, the report said.

    “This (is) more than twice the radioactivity currently contained in high-level wastes stored at the SRS site, which already has the single largest concentration of radioactivity of any DOE site,” Alvarez wrote.

  • February 28, 2013

    The Augusta (GA) Chronicle

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    A federal strategy to consolidate spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s 104 commercial power reactors could send huge volumes of radioactive waste to Savannah River Site, according to a study released Thursday.

    “Because of its proximity to most of the nation’s reactors, access to ports, and its nuclear material processing history, Savannah River Site in South Caro­li­na is considered by some to be a prime candidate for the interim storage and reprocessing of spent power reactor fuel,” wrote Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank.

    . . . Citing spent nuclear fuel data from the Nuclear Energy Institute, a pilot storage facility there might store as much as 5,000 metric tons containing more than 1 billion curies of intermediate and long-lived radioactive wastes, the report said.

    . . . “This (is) more than twice the radioactivity currently contained in high-level wastes stored at the SRS site, which already has the single largest concentration of radioactivity of any DOE site,” Alvarez wrote.

  • November 1, 2012

    National Journal

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    The danger Hurricane Sandy posed to nuclear power plants along the East Coast highlights some of the same vulnerabilities that terrorists looking to release harmful radiation into the environment could exploit, watchdog groups said this week.

    Robert Alvarez, who served as a senior adviser to the Energy secretary during the Clinton administration, noted that spent fuel pools were originally designed for temporary storage lasting no longer than five years. He cited a 2006 study by the National Academy of Sciences that said pools at nearly all of the more than 100 reactors in the United States now contain high-density spent-fuel racks that allow about five times more waste to be stored in the pool than was originally intended.

    “The Oyster Creek spent-fuel pool is currently holding about 3,000 irradiated assemblies (including a recently discharged full core) containing about 94 million curies of cesium 137—more than three times more released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests,” Alvarez, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, said by e-mail. “Whether or not mega-storm Sandy portends what’s in store for the near future, it’s still too risky to use high-density spent-fuel pools as de facto indefinite storage for some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

  • November 1, 2012

    Concord Monitor

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    Hurricane Sandy’s wrath shows that U.S. regulators should swiftly implement nuclear-safety rules developed after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, a top lawmaker said, as industry officials countered the lack of major problems during the storm showed that they were ready.

    Hurricane Sandy this week pummeled the northeast United States, forcing three reactors to shut down, and a fourth, Exelon Corp.’s Oyster Creek facility in New Jersey, to declare an alert.

    . . . Sandy may be the impetus for operators to reassess disaster protection, Robert Alvarez, a scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, said in an interview.

    “There might be some interesting information about vulnerabilities being uncovered,” said Alvarez, a senior policy adviser to the Energy secretary during the Clinton administration.

  • October 31, 2012

    Bloomberg

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    Sandy may be the impetus for operators to reassess disaster protection, Robert Alvarez, a scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, said in an interview.

    “There might be some interesting information about vulnerabilities being uncovered,” said Alvarez, a senior policy adviser to the Energy secretary during the Clinton administration.

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