I first learned about “atomic waste” in my high chair; I grew up in the fifties in Washington State and my grandfather frequently had business at the Hanford Reservation (now the most contaminated nuclear waste site in North America). I remember my mother arguing with him about the dangers of nuclear waste: she was concerned about the health of the Columbia River; he trusted that the plant would be safe.
But my mother was right: the tanks containing highly radioactive waste are leaking, and the Columbia River is at risk.1
The reactors at Hanford are now closed. But when I discovered that another nuclear reactor (the same kind used at Fukushima) now operates within miles of the Columbia River, I was motivated to take action to protect the river, and began organizing in my community. I was dismayed when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently relicensed the Columbia Generating Station for another 20 years — even though they don’t have a solid plan for storing the waste safely.
Fortunately the courts are now requiring the NRC to have a moratorium on licensing until they do an environmental impact statement on the radioactive waste. Now we have a chance to protect the river by demanding that the waste be stored safely.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now developing new rules for the long-term storage of highly radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear reactors. These rules will determine whether or not your state becomes a transportation route for thousands of shipments of highly radioactive waste on super-trucks, or a storage site for some or all of the 70,000+ tons of radioactive waste.
We have a very unique opportunity to have a say in how our country handles radioactive waste from nuclear reactors in the future. If we don’t step up and comment, we will have lost our ability to protect our grandchildren, and many generations to come, from the deadly dangers of radiation.
Thank you for everything you do for the environment,
Sierra Club Nuclear Program Volunteer Lead
P.S. After you’ve taken action, please forward a copy of this message to five of your friends and family. Or spread the word on your social networks with the share buttons below.
 “Hanford Nuclear Reservation Tanks Leaking Radioactive Waste Underground, Governor Inslee Says,” AP/Huffington Post, February 22, 2013.