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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • 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.

  • October 22, 2012

    Reuters UK

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    Dominion Resources Inc's plans to shut its Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin next year, the first U.S. nuclear plant to fall victim to growing competition from natural gas, triggering expectations more reactors could be forced to shut down.

    "The abundance of cheap natural gas is putting operators with aging reactors in a difficult bind," said Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, adding maintenance and operating costs are making some plants uncompetitive to gas.

    The Kewaunee shutdown did not surprise many in the industry, having watched the fizzling out of the "nuclear renaissance" that a decade ago was expected to redefine the U.S. energy landscape by providing a cheaper alternative to rising fossil fuel prices and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

  • September 28, 2012

    Kansas City InfoZine

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    Robert Alvarez is a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. He said today: "Dr. Martino-Taylor has reopened a dark chapter of recent history in which the most vulnerable people were put in harms way without their knowledge. Along with radiation experiments for the nuclear weapons program the callus lack of medical ethics is a tragic hallmark of the Cold War era."

  • September 27, 2012

    Gulf Today features article “America's Own Loose Nukes”

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  • September 25, 2012

    The Kansas City Star features article “America's Own Loose Nukes”

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  • September 24, 2012

    Global Security Newswire features report “Managing the Uranium-233 Stockpile of the United States”

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    A report by Alvarez advocates mixing the material with uranium isotopes unable to sustain a fission chain reaction. The Energy Department has said such an effort would result in an needless use of additional funds, but the Times said the potential step's expense was unclear.

  • September 23, 2012

    The New York Times features report “Managing the Uranium-233 Stockpile of the United States”

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    Yet Mr. Alvarez maintains that the disposal plan is insufficient. Shallow land burial “sets a bad precedent in terms of international safeguards,” he said.

    In a recent research paper, he also argued that the material should be made useless for making bombs by diluting it with a plentiful form of uranium that will not sustain a nuclear reaction.

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