« | »

US Can Only Store Spent Fuel For 100 Yrs

From the ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ Associated Press:

AP IMPACT: US spent-fuel storage sites are packed

By Jonathan Fahey And Ray Henry, The Associated Press Tue Mar 22, 2011

The nuclear crisis in Japan has laid bare an ever-growing problem for the United States — the enormous amounts of still-hot radioactive waste accumulating at commercial nuclear reactors in more than 30 states.

Whenever you see "AP Impact" in the headline, you know that the AP has hit upon a way to use some current ‘crisis’ to advance their agenda.

The U.S. has 71,862 tons of the waste, according to state-by-state numbers obtained by The Associated Press. But the nation has no place to permanently store the material, which stays dangerous for tens of thousands of years.

And whose fault is that? In any case, bear this hysteric sentence in mind when you read later that we have storage for a least the next 100 years.

Plans to store nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain have been abandoned, but even if a facility had been built there, America already has more waste than it could have handled.

Notice how this is put. "Plans… have been abandoned." No, they were stopped by Mr. Obama. And, yes, Yucca Mountain would have gone a long way to providing storage space for our nuclear waste. And even if it wasn’t large enough, it could have been readily expanded.

Three-quarters of the waste sits in water-filled cooling pools like those at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan, outside the thick concrete-and-steel barriers meant to guard against a radioactive release from a nuclear reactor.

Spent fuel at Dai-ichi overheated, possibly melting fuel-rod casings and spewing radiation into the air, after Japan’s tsunami knocked out power to cooling systems at the plant.

Notice that the AP has finally gotten around to admitting what the real problem was in Japan. But only when they are desperately trying to salvage something from the story to use against our own nuclear power efforts.

The rest of the spent fuel from commercial U.S. reactors has been put into dry cask storage, but regulators only envision those as a solution for about a century and the waste would eventually have to be deposited into a Yucca-like facility.

So we only have about a century to come up with an alternative solution. The clock is ticking. No wonder AP is up in arms.

The U.S. nuclear industry says the waste is being stored safely at power-plant sites, though it has long pushed for a long-term storage facility. Meanwhile, the industry’s collective pile of waste is growing by about 2,200 tons a year; experts say some of the pools in the United States contain four times the amount of spent fuel that they were designed to handle

Which is yet another argument for modernizing our nuclear power plants and moving to plants that can use re-processed (recycled) fuel, as they do in Europe. But that is not mentioned as a possible solution by the AP until the 34th paragraph of this 42 paragraphs long article.

Industry leaders say new technology has made fuel pools safer, and regulators have taken some steps since the 9/11 terror attacks to reduce fuel pool risks. Kevin Crowley, who directs the nuclear and radiation studies board at the National Academy of Sciences, says lessons will be learned from the crisis in Japan. And NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko says his agency will review how spent fuel is stored in the U.S

The lesson the AP wants us to learn is that we cannot have nuclear power. Which, oddly enough, is the same lesson Mr. Obama wants us to learn from Japan.

A 1982 law gave the federal government responsibility for the long-term storage of nuclear waste and promised to start accepting waste in 1998. After 20 years of study, Congress passed a law in 2002 to build a nuclear waste repository deep in Yucca Mountain.

The federal government spent $9 billion developing the project, but the Obama administration has cut funding and recalled the license application to build it

So who is to blame here?

Despite his Yucca Mountain decision, President Barack Obama wants to expand nuclear power. He created a commission last year to come up with a long-term nuclear waste plan. Initial findings are expected this summer, with a final plan expected in January

Mr. Obama wants nothing of the sort. And his "commission" is just like all of his other commissions. A fig-leaf to cover up his real intentions, which is to kill the nuclear power industry.

Some countries — such as France, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom — reprocess their spent fuel into new nuclear fuel to help reduce the amount of waste.

The remaining waste is solidified into a glass. It needs to be stored in a long-term waste repository, but reprocessing reduces the volume of waste by three-quarters.

Because reprocessing isolates plutonium, which can be used to make a nuclear weapon, Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter put a stop to it in the U.S. The ban was later overturned, but the country still does not reprocess.

France produces 1,300 tons of nuclear waste per year, and reprocesses 940 tons. Still, fuel is only reprocessed once and then it, too, needs to be stored. France is expecting that engineers will eventually succeed in building a new type of nuclear reactor called a fast reactor that will use the waste it can’t reprocess as fuel

Other countries, such as Germany, store spent fuel in casks. Finland is building a repository it says will store waste safely for 100,000 years

Which would make a nice ‘green technology’ project for our nation, would it not? But of course we can’t be bothered.

Customers have paid $24 billion into a fund Congress established in 1982 to pay for such storage. The charge — a penny for every 10 kilowatt-hours — would typically add up to about $11 a year for a household that received all its electricity from nuclear plants

And now that tax money is not going to creating a nuclear storage site in Yucca Mountain or anywhere else. It is probably being used for ‘social justice.’

But just think what customers will be paying when Mr. Obama and his minions at the AP finally get their way and shut down our nuclear power industry, and we lose more than 20% of our source for electricity.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “US Can Only Store Spent Fuel For 100 Yrs”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    OK, Nuclear is bad. So we’ll do away with nuclear.
    Coal is bad, so we won’t use coal
    Oil is bad….ditto.
    so that leaves us with well….burning leaves. But CO2 is a pollutant…so…no leaf-burning.
    Windmills……made of space-age materials that are largely manufactured through use of….electricity (You know, that stuff that mysteriously comes out of the wall? It’s ….it’s…..like magic)
    Solar panels….which cost tons of money to make and return very little when you consider it on a scale of needed power…same with windmills.
    Seems to me the greenies won’t be happy until everyone is living back in 1850. But then…whale oil was used to illuminate our homes…..
    So…back to 1750……um….we burned wood for heat. Used candles for light. But…we can’t use wood anymore…no….the trees have rights.
    So….back to the 1600’s. Ah…now we’re getting somewhere. But then there’s that pestilence and disease problem.

    Well, I guess the answer is obvious. Humans, in order to survive, must die.

    There, see how easy that was? Sign me up for the green revolution.

  2. proreason says:

    Thank goodness Japan’s earthquake was only the 4th biggest ever recorded. And how lucky was it that the tsunami was only twice as high as they planned for?

    If it had been much worse, somebody might have died or gotten sick.

    If the pace of destruction from the nuclear energy industry continues at this pace, it might someday catch up to the windmill industry….provided that the windmill industry is shut down immediately and that decades are allowed for the catch-up to happen.

    But of course, the damage to the environment will never catch up, not to speak of the panoramic views that windmills destroy.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Imagine if all those b&w portraits by that hero of the left, Ansel Adams, were all covered with solar panels and windmills.

  3. Gladius et Scutum says:

    There’s a deliberately misleading “factoid” leading off the article that I would have missed if I: A. Did not live near a decommissioned nuclear plant, and B. Been subject to the same trick by a local television reporter.

    “The U.S. has 71,862 tons of the waste, according to a state-by-state.. which stays dangerous for tens of thousands of years” The deception lies in the failure to differentiate between high-level and low-level waste. High level waste includes the spent fuel rods and things that have been in direct contact with them (reactor walls, initial steam pipes). This is the stuff that stays dangerous for thousands of years. Low level waste is everything that has secondary contact with the rods and makes up the vast majority of the waste, and does not require any Yucca Mountain type storage. It consists of gloves, “moon suits”, secondary systems, and anything that makes a gieger counter click.

    The reactor near me operated for almost exactly 30 years, and in an article published when it closed, noted that it had 38,000 pounds of spent fuel rods, never having sent any off – site. But in a news cast two days ago, a local reporter stated “there’s 2.2 million pounds of nuclear waste sitting there”. What a canard!

    By my math, if the US has 104 reactors that generated 1267 of spent fuel per year, and did so for 40 years, it would yield 5,270,720 pounds or 2,396 tons of high level waste. Just 3.3% of the amount cited by the AP. There are some things I haven’t included in my calculations – 1. Nuclear weapons manufacture 2. Research reactors (there are more than you’d think) 3. I don’t know how often the initial steam systems/internal reactor componets are replaced. But its pretty clear that the AP is lumping the low level waste with the truly hazardous, and counting on ignorance and the emotional response most people have to the word “radiation” to yank their collective chain.

    • proreason says:

      5,270,720 pounds of uranium is about 15 feet x 15 feet x 15 feet of high level waste. That’s about the average size of one backyard swimming pool.

      I’m still waiting on the breathless casualty reports from the latest nuclear cataclysm in Japan, and hoping the casualties don’t climb as high as the Three Mile Island horror. Didn’t hundreds of thousands of people die in that one?

    • Kytross says:

      Also, anything tossed in a contaminated waste bin is nuclear waste. Inside the Radioactive Control Area (RCA) of any nuclear site there are two sets of trashcans. One set for clean trash and one set for contaminated trash. Anything tossed in a contaminated bin is now contaminated.

      So if you have a piece of paper with you that you don’t need anymore and accidentally toss it in the contaminated bin it is now ‘nuclear waste’ by definition. Mind you, it’s not radioactive before it went into the trash bin, but there you go.

      A coal burning plant, depending on size, uses 20-100 railroad cars worth of coal a day. A nuclear plant uses less than 1 rail road car of fuel per year.

      Also, Uranium is ridiculously heavy, heavier than gold or lead. If the media wanted to talk about waste storage accurately they would talk about the volume of the waste, not the weight. For example, it is much easier to carry ten pounds of lead or gold than ten pounds of feathers. Without a container, carrying ten pounds of feathers would be nearly impossible.

  4. bill says:

    Spent fuel rods can be preprocessed. Ask France how, they recycle all their spent fuel rods.

    But our Congress under the Democrats made reprocessing illegal. Why would they do that?

    I assume the AP does not want you to know.

  5. Astravogel says:

    Launch the high-level waste into the
    nearest handy star, and bury the rest
    under Harry Reid. Even if the ‘capsule’
    fails to reach orbit, it will most likely
    land in an ocean if launched from the
    left coast or catered by the French.

  6. pilgrim1949 says:

    Oxcarts, dung fires and mud huts — an eco-wet-dream come true! They’ll be signing in up droves to join the commune.

    Not a whole lot unlike the “solar-panels-and-free-solar-energy-forever” crowd that had a major coniption fit when California eyed a prime swath of desert land just perfect for sunshine-gleaning…. until the eco-whackos objected to some little furry critter’s habitat being adversely affected (it could always just skitter on away to a nearby location). The Governator himself pronouced it a bunch of asinine grandstanding.

    Typical, though of much of the competing eco interests, with humans’ survivability always at the bottom of the stack. As has been already noted (and per the extreme eco-freak positions) the Earth would just be soooooo much better if all the pesky humans would die off (except for the cherished Chosen Ecos who could then rule in peace).

    Bunch of temper-tantrum perpetual two-year-olds screaming “No!” to anyone that dares to stymie their eco-and-ego-centric plans.

    • Right of the People says:

      One problem with that; Where would the libtards get their cappuccinos and lattes? I bet the Birkenstock bunch never thought of that.

  7. GetBackJack says:

    I called my step son the morning I saw Fukushima go up in smoke and told him it was a banner day for his job security. “What!?” was his indignant reply. “Hey” said I, “a nuclear plant going boom means you’re in like Flynn for the next two decades at least and you’ve only got 16 years until you retire.” “WTF?” was his reply.

    He works for Union Pacific in a railyard where at least five sometimes six coal trains – a mile long – pass through every day 365. All the coal is headed to electricity plants. He’s railroad union, coal is union and nuclear will now be in America like trying to sell a warm bucket of piss to a Sunday School teacher.

    he’s golden.

    But it does amaze me that coal mines kil dozens if not hundreds of union coal miners every year, and dozens if not tens of dozens of union rail road employees are injured or killed every year in and around coal trains and coal fired electricity plants are dirty filthy beasts proven to kill man, animals, angels and even Jesus Christ himself.

    Nuclear?

    Not so much.

    A conundrum. A real head scratcher.

    • proreason says:

      GBJ – I’m surprised that you call it a conundrum.

      1 Nuclear (in the long run, at least) is cheap compared to any other form of energy
      2 Cheap energy increases the wealth of a country in many ways
      3 Increaseing wealth creates satisfied citizens
      4 Satisfied citizens don’t support marxists

      And then there’s the bonus of being eternally dependent on other countries.

      Non-factors: safety, clean energy, high costs of alternatives

      What’s NOT to like about anything that can be demagogued to prevent nuclear energy…for community organizers, that is.

    • GetBackJack says:

      I apologize for not clearly stating that what I wrote was Sarcasm


« Front Page | To Top
« | »