Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Please consider signing your organization onto the following statement, which is self-explanatory. To sign on, email me your name, title, organization name, and city to firstname.lastname@example.org. or email@example.com. Sign on deadline is early Thursday morning, November 30th at the very latest. Sorry for the short notice, but the MI Natural Resources Trust Fund Board will consider, and may vote upon, this proposal at its Dec. 6 meeting, so we must act fast. Please spread the word to other groups in MI you think might be interested to sign on. If you have any questions, feel free to call Kevin at (301) 270-6477 ext. 14.
For a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes,
Nuclear Waste Specialist
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
(and board member, Don’t Waste MI, representing the
We, the undersigned organizations, are opposed to the
establishment of a
The Big Rock Nuclear Plant on the shores of
A 351-acre tract (of the 563-acre property), with more
than a mile of “undeveloped” -- but likely radiologically-impacted
-- Lake Michigan shoreline, has been offered for sale by Consumers to the State
The radioactivity that the Big Rock reactor routinely
released over the decades of nuclear power operation has not been completely
removed from the land and waters. Ironically, despite its small size (it was a
75 megawatt reactor, compared to a more typical 1,000 megawatt reactor), Big
Rock released among the largest amounts of radioactivity of any single atomic
reactor in the country. Many millions of curies of radioactivity were released
into the air, soil, and groundwater, as well as into
Despite the permanent shutdown of the Big Rock reactor nearly a decade ago, and its subsequent dismantlement and decommissioning, risks still abound at the site – emphasized by the presence of 441 bundles (nearly 64 tons) of highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods stored on a concrete pad surrounded by fencing, heavily armed security personnel, and guard dogs (of questionable efficacy against airborne, or remotely launched land-based and waterborne, attack scenarios).
These dangerous atomic wastes, like the radioactive contamination that spread into the air, water and soil during Big Rock’s atomic power operation, will remain hazardous for a very long time. Some radioactive poisons, such as plutonium-239, found in the high-level wastes and radioactive contamination at Big Rock, will remain deadly in even microscopic amounts for hundreds of thousands of years.
Consumers Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) admit that “residual radioactivity” continues to contaminate the soil and groundwater at Big Rock, specifically the following 24 “fission and activation products” (radioactive poisons): Hydrogen-3 (tritium); Carbon-14; Manganese-54; Iron-55; Nickel-59; Cobalt-60; Nickel-63; Zinc-65; Strontium-90; Technetium-99; Silver-110m; Iodine-129; Cesium-134; Cesium-137; Europium-152; Europium-154; Europium-155; Plutonium-238; Plutonium-239; Plutonium-240; Plutonium-241; Americium-241; Curium-243; Curium-244. Each radioactive poison has its distinctive hazardous persistence, some in the centuries, others in the millions of years. Certain radioactive poisons tend to target their risks at particular human organs: Sr-90 at bones and Cs-137 at muscles (including the heart), for example. NRC has rubberstamped the status of radioactive contamination at Big Rock as below “permissible” doses, but that does not mean they are safe. In 2005, the National Academies of Science re-affirmed in its seventh “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR)” report that any exposure to radiation, no matter how small, carries a health risk.
Consumers leaked 20,000 gallons of tritium (radioactive
hydrogen) into the soil and groundwater in 1984. It requested – and
obtained – permission from the NRC for “on-site disposal”
– that is, not cleaning up the spill, but rather leaving it in the
groundwater. The company and NRC admit that this and other tritium spills
violated the Safe Drinking Water Act from 1984 to 2000, in terms of the
concentration of radioactive tritium in the site’s groundwater. Consumers
holds that the tritium is flowing into
Given the ambiguity over transfer of liability, state taxpayers might assume the legal burden for contamination or problems discovered at this site in the future. Trust Fund board members should not agree to saddle residents with such a potential very long-lasting radioactive burden on the beaches and shores of a state park.
The high-level radioactive waste isn’t going
anywhere anytime soon, either. There is still not a single repository anywhere
in the world for the irradiated nuclear fuel generated during the first 64
years of the Atomic Age. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) admits that the
proposed national dumpsite at
In the meantime, the radioactive rods at Big Rock raise obvious questions about public health, safety, and security risks, especially in regards to their susceptibility to terrorism or sabotage. In April, 2006 the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, the Government Accountability Office, chastised the NRC for giving priority to the nuclear industry’s bottom line over needed security upgrades at nuclear power plants. The development of a state park is incongruous with a potentially catastrophic terrorist target. Inviting large numbers of families and children into close proximity to high-level radioactive waste makes no sense, in terms of the safety and security concerns.
Among the most troublesome questions is the wisdom of the state’s taxpayers potentially assuming legal liability for land with a history of radioactive releases and dangerous nuclear waste that will be there indefinitely. Despite these long-term risks, state and federal officials have declined to conduct an environmental impact statement, settling instead for a lower level “environmental assessment.”
The many concerns and questions raised above remain
unaddressed. The establishment of a state park (or residential development) at
Big Rock is not prudent. With many other applicants offering potential park
sites without such complications, the state should not choose to favor this
one. We urge the State of
Michael Keegan, Coalition for a
Nuclear-Free Great Lakes,
Hugh McDiarmid, Communications Director,
Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Waste Specialist, Nuclear Information and Resource Service,