By Kari Hulac
At Deep Isolation we are all here for one reason: To solve a decades-old environmental problem that most people never even think about.
Yes, that is as difficult as it sounds. It’s so difficult, in fact, that most governments around the world have yet to solve it while ratepayer dollars allotted for a permanent disposal solution collect dust in the coffers, and taxpayer dollars pay for interim storage.
Unless you personally live near one of the 93 commercial nuclear reactors operating in the United States at 55 locations in 28 states, you probably rarely think about nuclear energy or spent nuclear fuel, which is radioactive and requires specialized handling and containment for thousands of years.
Most of those who do live near a plant, where waste is temporarily stored in very large concrete casks, aren’t too worried because it is safe where it is.
While spent nuclear fuel is safe in these storage casks, this was never intended to be permanent. The international scientific consensus for decades has been that the BEST place for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste is in deep geologic disposal, where it’s protected from the elements and can’t be tampered with by humans. In the U.S. disposal in a mined repository is required by law.
We believe governments have a moral and legal obligation to move forward with permanent waste disposal. We think this is more important now than ever:
*To reduce opposition to clean nuclear power and fight climate change;
*And to increase energy independence as a national security priority.
As a company we’ve internally struggled with how to raise public awareness and gain public support for solving a problem that is (mostly) out of sight and thus, out of mind. How do we persuade the government that doing nothing is not a solution?
So, a small group of us got together and embarked on a mission to: Find out what people think about waste and nuclear energy; provide factual information in hopes of inspiring others to feel more inspired to solve this problem; and finally, give those newly inspired folks a way to make their voices heard by those with the power to make change.
Solve Nuclear Waste Project
First, we took the public’s temperature to make sure we were on the right track. We launched a nationally representative U.S. poll last summer and found that 70 percent of those surveyed agree that it’s the government’s job to solve this problem. We also found that people would be more likely to support nuclear energy if the waste was in safe disposal.
Once we gathered the poll data, we gut-checked our progress with a focus group of nearly 20 stakeholders and environmental community advocates. We took their suggestions to heart, and the Solve Nuclear Waste website was born.
The webpage features facts about nuclear waste in the U.S. and a pledge that concerned citizens can sign as a rallying cry to hold government accountable to solve this issue now. (If we’re successful, we certainly hope to expand our efforts worldwide.)
We see this pledge as an important initial step to talk more openly about nuclear waste and earn support for action needed by decision makers who can help drive progress on this long-standing environmental issue.
Once we collect a critical mass of signatures, we plan to share this information with decision makers to demonstrate that the public DOES care about nuclear waste disposal and wants this problem addressed now.
We hope you’ll visit the new webpage and consider signing our pledge today.