Hanford Emergency Underlines Need to End Nuclear Power


Photo courtesy of King 5

TUESDAY, MAY 9 -- Workers have been evacuated or told to shelter in place because of a tunnel collapse onto a contaminated rail line used to reprocess nuclear waste. 

In an interview with the Washington Post, Edwin Lyman with the Union of Concerned Scientists stated: “It appears that this is a potentially serious event...Collapse of the earth covering the tunnels could lead to a considerable radiological release.”

The incident is a grim reminder that we are still at risk of exposure to highly dangerous radioactive waste from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. You can make a difference: tell the Oregon State Legislature to reject SB 990, which would allow construction of new nuclear power plants that create dangerous nuclear waste.


In 1980, Oregonians voted to require that statewide voter approval and a permanent disposal site is built for the highly radioactive and long-lived waste nuclear power generates, before any new nuclear power plants be built in the state.  Nearly 40 years later there is still no permanent disposal site established for high-level radioactive waste – yet SB 990 in Oregon’s State Legislature would allow some types of nuclear power plants to be built.

Please urge the House Committee on Energy and Environment to reject SB 990!

The extremely difficult problem of safely storing nuclear waste that remains lethal for centuries and dangerous for millennia has not been solved. Senate Bill 990 is a bill that would create a special exemption from Oregon’s 1980 voter-passed moratorium on nuclear power plant construction for small modular reactors. Instead of requiring a statewide vote, the bill would allow cities and counties to vote for nuclear reactors of 300 megawatts or less without a permanent repository for the high-level radioactive waste they would create. 

The proposed smaller reactors create the same kind of high-level radioactive waste generated at Oregon’s now-closed nuclear power plant, Trojan (1,000 megawatts) created.  The orphaned waste from Trojan still sits in heavily shielded casks on a concrete pad next to the Columbia River, awaiting permanent disposal.  Should the shielding fail for any reason, workers would receive a lethal dose of radiation within minutes even though the plant has been closed for more than two decades.

We have a moral obligation to protect Oregonians from the health and financial impacts of the generation of more nuclear waste that we still have no plan to safely dispose. Add your name to our sign-on letter to tell the Oregon Legislature to reject Senate Bill 990 and keep our nuclear waste protections intact.