Government needs to solve safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel

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  • Corn Dog New York, NY
    May 23, 2012 3:00 a.m.

    @Baron Scarpia

    Your comment about WIPP subsidies is not relevant. The waste going to the WIPP is from federal government weapons programs, not civilian nuclear power.

    Spent fuel rods would be shipped dry in robust, sealed containers and a spill, should one occur, would be easy to clean up because the material is dry. The gulf spill you mention was many orders of magnitude times the amount of radioactive material on a train, was uncontainerized, and was spread by wind, waves, tides, and currents. None of those would be a factor in a spill of spent fuel rods on dry land. We have had more problems from train derailments of renewable energy (ethanol) than from radioactive waste.

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    May 22, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    May I suggest a whole different alternative to the nuclear wast problem? The solution is recycling the nuclear waste. It was outlawed back in the Carter era and so it is not pursued or discussed here in the US.

    France, on the other hand, has been recycling nuclear waste for decades. 90% of the recycled waste can be used for new fuel rods, the other 10% does have to be stored. That also means less uranium needs to be mined and processed.

    As has been pointed out, Yucca was stopped purely for political reasons. From a science point of view it is the best solution to store nuclear waste and should be actively pursued. We just need to get Harry Reid out of the way. Yes, recycling does leave some that needs to be stored, but I would rather deal with the smaller 10% number.

    We need to join the 21st century. Nuclear technology has come a long way and is a reliable source of electricity. We should make it a priority by allowing recycling and streamlining the permitting process.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2012 3:38 p.m.

    Apolitical science could solve the problem, but political governments cannot. When Tonopah solar power can work at night or on cloudy days and can store electricity, we can rest easy. Until then every power source carries a risk.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 22, 2012 3:28 p.m.

    To "Happy Valley Heretic" you realize that the odds of a train accident are quite slim. From what I can see, there has never been an accident involving 2 trains where one train derailed or had another problem that caused a second train to derail.

    If you want to get technical about the disaster in Japan, that was caused by human error. The reactor would have been fine if the operators would have waited until the tsunami had passed. Again, human error that we can learn from and not repeat the same mistakes.

    Although I find it interesting that you are now changing the subject away from transporting the nuclear waste to plant operations now that you know that the DOE has mandated quite a few restrictions to ensure the safe transportation of nuclear waste.

    To "Irony Guy" and what do we do for power once the environmentalists complain that too many desert turtles have lost their habitat because of the solar power plants?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 22, 2012 1:51 p.m.

    There IS no safe place for this stuff. The answer is simple: shut down the nuke plants. Las Vegas is about to power itself with solar. Check out the new Tonopah solar power generator.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    May 22, 2012 1:10 p.m.

    Red said: To "Happy Valley Heretic" nice strawman argument using a situation that is strictly prohibited by the DOE. Trains transporting nuclear waste are not allowed to transport flammable or explosive materials on the same train or the same track. The situation that you describe could never occur with a nuclear waste cask.

    Yet it nearly did.
    Not on the same train or tracks, but if you hadn't noticed a lot of tracks run next to each other.
    If the Nuke reg hadn't forced a plant in Ohio to move it's generators and back up generators a few years ago to higher ground they would have flooded just like Japan in a flood that was "Never" suppose to happen.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 22, 2012 12:52 p.m.

    Why can't we take all of those spent fuel rods and re-process them? The problem is that we are not re-using the nuclear fuel that is available. Isn't that what being green is all about, recycling and reusing?

    Think of it this way. If people collected all of their old aluminum cans, crushed them, and then sent them to a storage facility, wouldn't we think they were insane? Why do we think it is perfectly acceptable to just bury recyclable fuel?

    To "Happy Valley Heretic" nice strawman argument using a situation that is strictly prohibited by the DOE. Trains transporting nuclear waste are not allowed to transport flammable or explosive materials on the same train or the same track. The situation that you describe could never occur with a nuclear waste cask.

  • Sensible Scientist Rexburg, ID
    May 22, 2012 11:23 a.m.

    Yucca Mountain was closed solely for political reasons. A few unreasonable people touted transportation issues, ignoring the fact that nuclear materials have been safely transported across the country for 60 years without injuring anyone. Transportation of metal rods in indestructible containers is a non-issue.

    Yucca Mountain has so far been demonstrated to be a safe site for spent fuel storage by every scientific and engineering analysis so far.

    Spent fuel storage is funded by a tiny surcharge on nuclear-made electricity -- it is NOT funded by taxpayers.

    Nuclear power in western countries has a better safety record than any other major source of electricity. Fukushima's causal problem, flooded diesel back-up generators, is simple to remedy. The great quake did not damage the reactors. Three-Mile Island showed that back-up systems work (no one was hurt). Chernobyl was caused by inferior Soviet-era engineering and human error, and would be impossible to replicate in a modern reactor. So none of the arguments touted by anti-nuclear ignorance holds water.

    There is no objective scientific or engineering reason the Yucca Mountain Project should not be completed.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    May 22, 2012 11:18 a.m.

    Flashback said: "The casks are built to survive a nuclear blast without rupturing."

    Where do you get ridiculous info like that?

    "While these containers are strong, ... they are not designed to withstand everything that could happen on a transportation route," he said. "People who live along these routes should know what the possible consequences are.

    Each rail cask weighs about 145 tons fully loaded and contains 260 times the amount of radioactive cesium released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb, said Matthew Lamb, a co-author of the report.

    The metal containers designed to carry spent nuclear fuel from the Calvert Cliffs plant and other reactors to a proposed storage site in Nevada would have failed if the transport train had been engulfed in the estimated 1,500- degree heat of the Baltimore rail tunnel fire last summer, according to a consultant's report prepared for the state of Nevada.
    More than 300,000 people would have been exposed to radiation leaking from the containers, built to withstand 1,475 degrees for 30 minutes, said the report compiled by Radioactive Waste Management Associates, which was hired by Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 22, 2012 8:46 a.m.

    Yucca Mtn should be finished and used. It is a great site where nothing else can be done due to nuclear testing. As far as an accident on a train? The casks are built to survive a nuclear blast without rupturing. I'm not concerned about the transport of such waste when the transport device tests out as just fine.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    May 22, 2012 6:55 a.m.

    "WIPP's annual budget of $215 million stays mainly in Carlsbad, in addition to another $100 million in federal highway funds during the past decade."

    This is the problem with nuclear power. It is subsidized at constructing power stations. It is subsidized to generate the power. AND it is subsidized for disposing of its waste for ETERNITY.

    Yucca Mountain was rejected because the nuke waste trains were going to have to travel through Salt Lake City (imagine a nuke waste train wreck near the LDS Temple) and Las Vegas (again, imagine a nuke waste train accident outside the casinos). Local policymakers were concerned that any accident involving nuke waste would devistate the economies of Utah and Nevada, similar to how the 2010 Mexican Gulf oil spill hurt coastal industries.

    People need to think that any energy decisions made today will have an impact on society 50 to 75 years out. Nuclear power plants built in the 1960s continue to operate and threaten society (think Fukushima). Coal-fired plants in Utah from the 1960s continue to pollute Utah's air, spewing mercury into our fish and waterfowl, making them off limits to fish and hunt.

    The future is safe renewable energy.