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Matthew Mairinger's picture

After reading the previous responses I see a familiar trend of NIMBY-isim and anti-nuclear blanket statements. We have declared a CLIMATE EMERGENCY and recent analysis (IEA, IPCC, and most recently the EU "Road to EU Climate Neutrality by 2050") declares that nuclear needs to be increased rapidly if we are to meet our climate targets. Fossil fuels continue to be increased and people are dying from the emissions and the environment is under attack (acidification of the oceans, mercury increases in water, SOx and NOx emissions, etc.).

I agree with the current policy about waste hierarchy and I have seen this actively utilized in the nuclear industry (different containers for different types of waste, utilizing a reusable plastic suit, etc.). This also makes sense economically since it is expensive to deal with nuclear waste so whenever possible this process should be followed.

I am worried about statements such as "minimizing the generation of radioactive waste means decreasing the volume of produced waste quantities" for a couple of reasons:

1. There is no mention of optimization or the benefit from a never-ending minimization process. Ultimately the best way to minimize the generation of radioactive waste would be to never continue with nuclear power generation, or research facilities, or medical treatments/research. However, this literal interpretation of the statement would not take into account the net positives that nuclear contributes (i.e. nuclear power is a clean generation source that NASA cites has already saved millions of lives (https://www.nature.com/articles/497539e) and medical isotopes are used for cancer treatment and are utilized in sterilization techniques for food and medical equipment).
2. I also consider the phrase "decreasing the volume" to be misleading - I can utilize various techniques (compaction, incineration, filtration, evaporation) which would decrease the volume but would increase the concentrate the activity into a smaller volume which may alter the strategy for disposal/transportation. Instead the statement should include some mention of activity and volume since the two are interrelated.

Another aspect to consider is new research contradicting linear non-threshold models. The TENORM, LLW, and non-radioactive waste activity limits should be revisited if research shows the low levels of radiation have hormesis/non-harmful effects in which case certain amounts of waste would be dealt with outside of the Radioactive Waste Policy and therefore free up resources for other programs.

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