Environmentalist involved with the Decommissioning of the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant Debunks Protesters' Worries
Recently, one of the Humboldt County Planning Commissioners was described in the Independent as saying that the Richardson Grove project would make the movement of 1500 trucks of nuclear material disposal much easier. Several of the protesters against the Caltran’s project in Richardson Grove became very concerned. Some created a video decrying the project for cutting down ancient redwoods and allowing 1000’s of tons of nuclear waste to travel down Highway 101.
In an effort to find out what the facts were I contacted Michael Welch whose work to stop the reopening of the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant galvanized locals in the Seventies and who is opposed to the Grove project.
1. Why do you know so much about the Humboldt Bay Power Plant and its waste disposal?
I’ve worked with Redwood Alliance since 1979. RA is an environmental organization that works on energy-related issues. The group started in 1978 to fight the reopening of the Humboldt Bay nuke plant. We were successful in that endeavor.
A few years back, PG&E opened up to the community and now I sit on the Community Advisory Board that acts as a two-way conduit between the Humboldt plant administration and the community.
[There] is a brand new plant there that is running on natural gas, just completed last year. The old fossil fuel plants (units #1 and #2) are shut down, as is the nuke plant (unit #3). All three units are going through decommissioning (dismantling) right now. The high-level nuke waste is in secure dry cask storage on site. We are very pleased with how the utility is dealing with their high-level nuclear waste.
The waste to be disposed of is being generated during the decommissioning of the non-nuclear Units 1 and 2 and the nuclear Unit 3. The stuff is going to a toxic waste dump in Idaho.
200,000 cu. ft. of mixed waste. Not sure how many truckloads that is. A bunch.
No, I do not. Large trucks already go through there. In fact, a 115 ft. truck from PG&E with low level waste went through there in December. It was headed for Utah with the condensor from the plant, and the truck was over weight, over height, and over width.
Further, I believe that all the waste, except the high level stuff in long term dry cask storage on site, will be gone before the Grove project is even started.
6. What about the “Yucca Mountain plan- which would involve nuclear material coming from all over the world into the [developed port] Humboldt Bay and then being transported via highway to Yucca Mountain. That nuclear material (waste) plan was discussed as if it could be forced upon us through the Yucca Mountain plan. ” Is that something which you have any knowledge of? What do you think of the likelihood?
The Yucca Mountain idea is dead in the water. It was a horrible place to put the waste, and the state of NV amassed its resources to kill the project. It is still alive on paper, but that is about it.
Our stance is that the high level waste should be safely stored where it was produced, rather than saddling other communities with it or transporting the dangerous stuff through other communities and through the environment.
Thank you, Michael Welch, for your information and civil response. May we all learn to communicate so civily with those who have different opinions.
Photo from this informative site here