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US Freezes Nuclear Power Plant Permits Because of Waste Issues

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the no-nukes dept.

Power 347

KindMind writes "The U.S. Government said it will stop issuing all permits for new plants and license extensions for existing plants are being frozen due to concerns over waste storage. From the article: 'The government's main watchdog, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, believes that current storage plans are safe and achievable. But a federal court said that the NRC didn't detail what the environmental consequences would be if the agency is wrong. The NRC says that "We are now considering all available options for resolving the waste issue, But, in recognition of our duties under the law, we will not issue [reactor] licenses until the court's remand is appropriately addressed." Affected are 14 reactors awaiting license renewals, and an additional 16 reactors awaiting permits for new construction.'"

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347 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939459)

This makes me sad.

This is offtopic but the only real place to ask (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939589)

Am I getting 15 mod pts per day because slashdot is dying and needs moderators that badly? Am I the only one?

Re:This is offtopic but the only real place to ask (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939991)

Nope. You got them because your mom is a whore.

Re:This is offtopic but the only real place to ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940167)

I'm getting 150 mod points a day, every single day, just because I am special

Re:This is offtopic but the only real place to ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940361)

I'm getting 150 mod points a day, every single day, just because I am special

And yet here you are, outside without your helmet again...

pump it into the air (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939497)

can't we just pump it into the air. its probably not half as bad as the stuff that a coal plant releases.

Re:pump it into the air (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939621)

That is a myth. Nuclear plants release less radioactive material into the environment when they don't melt down. The meltdowns at TMI, Chernobyl, and Fukashima have made nuclear power release more radioactive material than coal over this period.

It should make sense. Coal releases uranium and its decay products. Uranium isn't especially radioactive (U-235 has a 700 million year half-life and U-238 has a 4 billion year half-life). It takes a lot of it to have a significant effect. Nuclear plants contain massive amounts of fission products with half-lives from microseconds to millenniums. Radioactivity (activity) is equal to the concentration times the natural log of 2 divided by the half-life (A = N * ln 2 / t_1/2). It is apparent that you would need a massive amount of natural uranium to compare with even small amounts of fission product releases. Meltdowns are of a completely different magnitude.

I'm not anti-nuke, but this argument of radioactive releases needs to be stopped. It is not valid.

Re:pump it into the air (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940259)

Some numbers: Fukushima 900 PBq & Chernobyl 5200 PBq.

Total radioactive releases from coal power plants from 1937 to 2040 [ornl.gov] : 100 PBq (2,721,736,430 millicuries).

So, just Fukushima and Chernobyl have released 61 times the radioactivity released by burning coal for electricity for a century (predicted).

Let's compare this to all of the proven coal reserves in the world being burned: 860 billion tonnes (950 billion tons) at 0.00427 millicuries/ton and 3.7e10 Bq/curie equals 150 PBq.

Obviously, these values are codependent, but we can probably safely assume that at least 200 PBq would be released (meaning that we have burned all of the known coal in the world). Fukashima alone still beats that value by almost 5 times and Chernobyl by 26.

Ouch!

Re:pump it into the air (2)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939649)

can't we just pump it into the air. its probably not half as bad as the stuff that a coal plant releases.

Are you sure about that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium#Toxicity [wikipedia.org]

Re:pump it into the air (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940093)

Plutonium? Seriously? Who the hell gave you a license to post on the internet?

"the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy"
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste&page=2

Re:pump it into the air (2)

jelle (14827) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940617)

That "radiation that a functioning nuclear power plant releases into the surrounding environment" is a tightly controlled quantity and should be as close to "none" as possible. That number does not include the radioactive waste that the plant generates, because the intention for the waste is to not release it into the environment. Sometimes, however a nuclear power plant does release more than the normal amount of radiation, and then usually it's bad enough to be referred to as a 'disaster', with greatly increased releases of radiation into the surrounding environment (chernobyl, fukushima daiichi). How often has an area been declared a nuclear disaster area from an "event" caused by a nuclear plant?

So... venting the radioactive waste into the air would, well, poison the planet faster than you can say slardibartfast.

Re:pump it into the air (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940397)

can't we just pump it into the air.

Just use it as fertiliser.

Uranium processing plant sprays radioactive waste as fertilizer

The shutdown Sequoyah Fuels uranium conversion plant is disposing of low-level radioactive waste by spraying it on 9,000 acres of company-owned grazing land.

Of course, they have good reason to spray it around.

"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering issuance of a license amendment to materials license SUB-1010 to authorize decommissioning of the Sequoyah Fuels Corp. (SFC) site near Gore, Oklahoma. This license is issued to SFC to possess contaminated material at its Gore site. NRC licenses these facilities under 10 CFR part 40. Specifically, the license authorizes SFC to possess up to 20 million metric tons of source material in any form. The contaminated material at the Gore site is in the form of uranium, uranium oxides, uranium fluorides, thorium, radium, and decay-chain products in process equipment and buildings, soil, sludge, and groundwater."

http://www.wise-uranium.org/edusa.html#GORE [wise-uranium.org]

Re:pump it into the air (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940641)

can't we just pump it into the air.
 
I think we should use it as food seasoning. Can I have extra uranium on my fries?

Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (2, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939507)

Uranium sealed in massive lead cans, encased in concrete, and stored deep underground in an area free of earthquakes.

Of course they should have also built other sites too. It makes no sense to dump all your waste in the same spot. Spread it out.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939551)

Waste Storage is not limited to spent fuel.
Spent fuel is not the largest source of waste by volume.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939619)

im intrigued, what other types exist?

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939691)

Lots. The physical plant itself, at least the components that become "waste" after being in contact with radioactive primary coolant. Tools. Protective gear worn by employees. Also, in the case of naval reactors - the entire reactor section of the sub or carrier. An so on.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939909)

Lots. The physical plant itself, at least the components that become "waste" after being in contact with radioactive primary coolant. Tools. Protective gear worn by employees. Also, in the case of naval reactors - the entire reactor section of the sub or carrier. An so on.

Most protective material is now made of material that dissolves when exposed to boiling water, basically only leaving the zipper of the protective clothing (the water can be filtered out and reused again later)... so a lot of the waste material over the past decade has been solved. As for objects such as pipes and reactor vessels, a good majority of those are being buried at former nuclear test sites... if I recall, some are stored in New Mexico, some in Idaho and other former test sites throughout the US.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939955)

I saw a computer in the RCA (radiation control area) while touring a nuke once. It had little "radioactive" stickers on it, and my first thought was... heh, Dell's not going to want THAT back when it goes off lease.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940083)

That is low level or intermediate level radioactive waste. The storage requirements are not the same as for spent fuel rods.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939761)

Anything in or around the reactor.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939867)

Even barrels and barrels of dirt.

What's to be done with 52,000 tons (47,174 metric tons) of dangerously radioactive spent fuel from commercial and defense nuclear reactors? With 91 million gallons (344.5 million liters) of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons (453,592 metric tons) of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste? And with some 265 million tons (240 million metric tons) of tailings from milling uranium ore—less than half stabilized—littering landscapes?

Its a long article, but worth the read: Half Life—The Lethal Legacy of America's Nuclear Waste [nationalgeographic.com] .

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940101)

You can put the tailings back into the mine they came from. The level of radioactivity is the same.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940301)

I've always thought about that. The radioactive material comes out of the ground and is concentrated. But it still came out of the ground. It was there to begin with. Glassifying it and then storing it in a salt mine (that basically reseals itself if it cracks) can't be any worse than when it was in the ground to begin with.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940135)

And if we built a few modern reactors (i.e. something less than 20years old) a lot of that waste would become a source of fuel. But we sure as hell can't build a new reactor. We have wind power!

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939675)

This really puts the lie to Warmists claiming they are not against nuclear energy.

Hey Toad, you motherfucker. Here's you rational environmentalists.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (0)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940047)

This really puts the lie to Warmists claiming they are not against nuclear energy.

That's strange. I don't recall either the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the federal courts ever being particularly pro-climate change but anti-nuclear. It is almost as if they are two separate issues linked only by the rantings of some anonymous Internet poster, but that can't be the case because some random guy on the Internet wouldn't lie.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939715)

This makes sense, especially in an area that is directly adjacent to where hundreds of open air atomic bomb tests were conducted. I wonder if anyone ever thought of putting the waste in a mountain near an area like that?

Another option, if you want to just get rid of the waste and never reprocess it would be to drill a hole 2 miles deep and then drop it in. Fill the hole with cement. If you did it in a geologically dead area like Wisconsin, then it would be billions of years before it would be disturbed.

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939751)

Whats worse is the government ALREADY collected billions (32 billion) from nuclear power customers to store the spent fuel and has so far refused to provide the facility or transportation to such facility despite them already collecting the funds. The funds were probably put into the general fund and spent already meaning the choices are:
1. Take from the general fund to actually open a site.
2. Refund the customers the billions already paid.
3. Screw the middle class again, don't refund, and don't open the site and call the fees a tax instead.

Guess which one will win? When you give the federal government money or authority you lose every time. No matter who you vote for the government wins.

http://www.powermag.com/nuclear/The-U-S-Spent-Nuclear-Fuel-Policy-Road-to-Nowhere_2651.html

Re:Should have stayed with the Yucca plan (5, Insightful)

grumling (94709) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939797)

Actually, they should be recycling it to get at the 95% or so of the unused refined fuel. Then take the waste products and bury them somewhere that already has a nuclear industry. Nevada's only claim to the nuclear age is that it was a test site for bombs.

Nuclear waste: An engineering problem looking for a political solution.

All plant types? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939509)

Are they also banning those types that can accept certain high-level wastes as fuel?

Obama in a nutshell (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939511)

As a candidate, Obama said he was both for and against nuclear power. (I will not "rule out" nuclear power http://video.msnbc.msn.com/morning-joe/25494201) but of course he can't really believe both positions. We find out what he believes by his actions. Obama frequently claim to support both positions: for cutting taxes and raising taxes, for cutting the deficit and raising spending, etc. He has to be one of the most dishonest politicians in history. However, he is not called out on his lies. He should be.

Re:Obama in a nutshell (0, Troll)

Chas (5144) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939591)

Dude! He's a political hack from the Chicago Machine!

Were you expecting Abe Lincoln Jr. here?

The government didn't "stamp out" organized crime in Chicago. Organized crime took over the government because lying to the people is more lucrative.

Re:Obama in a nutshell (1, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939997)

Apparently people moderating don't know how dirty Chicago politics is. They make washington politics seem plain, and happy as the sun rising up on a beautiful day. Obama is a political hack, hell if people even bothered to look at how dirty his own senate campaign was, they'd wonder how he became president. Ah that's right, by "disqualifying registered voters and other opponents" [cnn.com] CNN no less, not exactly a bastion of "evil right-wing news."

Not limited to Chicago politicians (3, Insightful)

bigtrike (904535) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940555)

Disenfranchising is nothing new and definitely not limited to the Chicago machine (which Obama was only minimally a part of). Bush ran a particularly dirty campaign in 2000. For example, Rove's people called a bunch of voters suggesting that McCain had an illegitimate vietnamese child to win the primary (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_poll#Political_push_polls:_United_States [wikipedia.org] ) Then a bunch of paid GOP staffers were responsible for starting a riot that stopped the recount in 2000: http://archive.democrats.com/images/miamirioters.jpg [democrats.com]
This has been going on long before Obama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_suppression#Examples_of_voter_suppression_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:Obama in a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939695)

And yet you ignore his opponent's mendacity. Just this week Mitt Romney's hacks said somebody should have gone to Massachusetts to be covered by his program for insurance in that state. Yet he also says that's not the model for the nation? Mitt Romney has also misrepresented Obama's words, and made fallacious claims like the number of ships in the navy (compared to WW1 size), the Air Force (sometime around WW2), and Army (I think WW1, but maybe WW2, doesn't matter much really), without noting any of the significant real differences in force composition. Anybody want to put a carrier task group today against the entire US Navy post WW2? No?

Sorry dude, but Obama's positions can be rationalized. Cut taxes on SOME people, doing SOME things, raise them on others. Cut deficit by raising revenue while investing in prudent infrastructure development. The same can go with nuclear. Sorry, but you haven't provided a lie. Just your own dishonesty.

Re:Obama in a nutshell (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939777)

Hey AC, your blue dress is stained.

Take some time of from blowing Obama and Axelrod and try thinking for a change.

Obama: Because I want 4 more years of this shit!

Re:Obama in a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940323)

Mit, because I want to be sold out to the highest bidder so he can buy a bigger house

Re:Obama in a nutshell (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940425)

Okay, here are some more examples of his dishonesty:

here. [blogspot.com]

Re:Obama in a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940525)

That comment from Mitt's spokeswoman about healthcare wasn't a lie. It was just a stupid and irrelevant thing to say.

If you aren't aware of the avalanche of lies by Obama, you haven't been listening:
I will go through the deficit line by line and trim it in half by the end of my first term.
I am against mandates, but for Obamacare.
Obamacare will bend the cost curve down.
The stimulus will have shovel-ready jobs and jump-start the economy.
I will close Gitmo.
I will end the war in Afghanistan.
I will be a different kind of politician, bringing people together.
The Republicans have to get in back.

It isn't just that Obama wants raise taxes on some and cut on some. He is against raising taxes one day, and then for it the next. He talks about cutting the deficit, while his plans make it 5x bigger than Bush's. Obama hasn't passed a budget in years yet he whines about Romney's tax returns. All he does is play golf and raise money and meet famous people.

The examples you bring up about Mitt Romney are irrelevant, mostly mistakes not lies. Do you know the difference between a mistake and a lie?! I don't think Romney was very honest with Newt Gingrich, but Obama is the absolute worst. If you haven't been noticing the avalanche of lies over the last 4 years, you are not very aware.

Re:Obama in a nutshell (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939947)

Come on, how is he dishonest if he says he takes both sides the ends up on one of them.

Too bad this didn't happen 3 months ago, in time for everyone's power bill to go up before the election. However, I'm not sure the blame would be his as this is a result of legal authority and court action. I guess maybe he could ignore the law like with a lot of other things.

And this is why.... (0)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939517)

We'll continue to burn lots and lots of coal for the foreseeable future.

NG (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939647)

It looks like natural gas is going to be the fuel of choice for most new plants. [naturalgas.org]

And then there are the conversions from gas to coal. GE has technology that can burn coal as clean as NG - so they say, but it costs too much compared to just using NG at current prices. And with the current boom in gas producton around the World and especially here in the US, gas prices are going to be low for a long time.

Re:And this is why.... (1)

Adriax (746043) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939769)

Coal mining is down in my state due to slowing demand, and some coal plants are due to be dismantled and replaced with nat gas plants in the near future.

I'd prefer a nuke plant though, less meth involved in extracting fuel for it.

Re:And this is why.... (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940169)

Don't worry, "Environmentalists" are already mounting legal challenges to stop modern methods of Natural Gas extraction and will force us back to coal fairly soon. The worst thing for the environment always has, and always will be hippies.

Re:And this is why.... (2)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940081)

[And this is why...] We'll continue to burn lots and lots of coal for the foreseeable future.

Actually, coal plants are being shut down to the tune of ~8.5% of total US generation capacity this year alone. Google it.

With nothing planned to replace the lost generation capacity.

I, for one, welcome our skyrocketing-energy-costs-and rolling-blackout/brownout Overlords.

Strat

I see (0)

Sollord (888521) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939537)

so this is how they will drive Solar production in the use ban nukes and then coal and then fraking to drive up NG prices

Re:I see (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939625)

Then next mother fucker who says anything about global warming to my face, I'm going to fucking punch his lights out.

Seriously. Bitch about CO2 generation, close down coal plants and now kibosh Nuclear. These fucking morons don't want a solution, they want everyone living in caves.

So when the lights go out because their isn't enough generation capacity, I'm going to break some windows and set shit on fire and find some hippies to shoot just for the fucking hell of it.

Re:I see (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940203)

Yes, you ACs get so brave. You scream to not do something to your face, while at the same time hiding who you are. Brilliant.

Re:I see (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939693)

In Asimov's Caves of Steel, all the nuclear fuel is pulverized like dust, and the sucked by giant pipes from the city into the ocean where it's buried deep, deep underground. Of course sinec Earth long-ago ran-out of uranium, they are mining Mars and the asteroids to get it.

Anyway: There isn't enough NG to fuel all the ex-coal plants. And yes driving-up coal/nuclear prices would be a way to get us to use "green energy". The one thing they never tell us is that using green energy means using one-quarter as much energy as we use now.

There's no way to produce enough solar energy to fuel current consumption levels. We all need PassivHaus buildings that don't require any heat and very little A/C.

Re:I see (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940495)

Actually, we CAN get plenty of solar as well as other AE to power us at 10x where we are at. The problem is not one of capabilities, but of economics. AE is still expensive. That is why we need a MIX of energy.

Here is a nice company doing thorium. Hopefully, their first reactor will be at a military base SOON. [wikipedia.org]
Here is how we burn up LOADS of 'waste' fuel. [wikipedia.org]
Here is how we convert our 500 years+ of coal into natural gas [greatpointenergy.com]

Basically, we have plenty of ways to get energy.

Now, with that said, I maintain that the SMART move is to create a national bill that requires that all new buildings below 5 stories to have 90% of their HVAC be handled by on-site AE. With that approach, it would actually encourage new technology for any number of things. This takes advantage of the fact that solar PV is VERY expensive at this time.

too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939565)

After the US has built and has in operation 104 nuclear reactors (half are over 30 years old) and they raise this issue now?? Bit late.

Re:too late (2, Informative)

grumling (94709) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939925)

Actually, until the Ford administration there was a highly effective recycling program in place. But the end of building weapons and the collapse of the price of newly mined uranium make it cheaper to just buy new and let it sit... with 95% of the available energy still in place.

BTW That's one reason why Yucca mountain was chosen over the salt domes in New Mexico: You can easily retrieve the waste for reprocessing at Yucca, but if you bury it in the salt it will be much more difficult down the road.

Nonstory (3, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939581)

FTFA:

Analysts feel the agency can conduct its research relatively quickly without having a major impact on nuclear plants currently seeking license extensions or utilities seeking permission to build new reactors.

A technicality, no significant impact to anything.

Re:Nonstory (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939623)

Analysts feel the agency can conduct its research relatively quickly without having a major impact on nuclear plants currently seeking license extensions or utilities seeking permission to build new reactors.

A technicality, no significant impact to anything.

Alas, it'll take as long as the Administration wants it to take. The NRC's plans mean nothing at all, if Yucca Mountain is any guideline...

Re:Nonstory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940119)

Analysts? If analists knew anything they'd be in charge instead of measly analysts.

Waste has nothing to do with it (-1, Flamebait)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939613)

It's solely about destroying all sources of energy that are NOT tied to Obama's pie-in-the-sky cheeseburger-farting unicorn fantasy of solar and wind power.

Re:Waste has nothing to do with it (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939701)

The court decision that forced this was actually written by a conservative Reagan appointee [wikipedia.org] . The 3-judge panel overall had 2 Republican and 1 Democratic appointees.

Re:Waste has nothing to do with it (2)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939757)

They're upholding the law, as a judge should. Anti-nuke activists filed the suit.

Re:Waste has nothing to do with it (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940025)

I'm not sure why all the sudden whoever appointed a judge is somehow any indication of the political affiliation of the judges. When Reagan was in office, they appointed judges based on their merit and qualifications, not phony support for some party ideals. Reagan had a democrat congress, there was no rubber stamping biased appointments.

Can we apply the same logic to coal? (2, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939627)

The world would be in a lot better place if you couldn't burn it until you'd removed an equal or greater quantity of CO2 from the atmosphere.

This is stupid (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939633)

The fact is, that if we would add a couple of GE PRISM at all of the nuke sites, either running, shutting down, or shut down, we could burn up the vast majority of the 'waste'. From there, what would remain in 100 years, would fit easily in a corner of WIPPS and last only 200 years. Oddly, this would make loads of money for the plants while pretty much using up all of the 'waste'.

In addition, all of the new sites should be switched to a thorium cycle. Very safe to run and at a fraction of the price.

Re:This is stupid (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940099)

You're using logic. Nuke-haters don't use logic, let alone understand it.

Nukes = minimal CO2 (potentially 0 emissions if we move to hydrogen from oil)

"Green" energy sources != green because they're not enough (not yet at least)

No nukes => alternative sources of electricity

Alternative sources = "Green" energy + coal + natural gas = no CO2 + lots of CO2 and all kinds of nasty stuff + more CO2 = Lots of CO2.

No nukes => Lots of CO2
Nukes => spent fuel, which can be processed and reused or used in a different reactor design, massively reducing volume, lifetime and resource consumption.

Re:This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940583)

hydrogen is harder to use and probably less safe than ammonia would be. But there are a variety of options when we have abundant, cheap electricity and heat. Currently ammonia (major industrial chemical, there are already pipelines of it everywhere) is made of of natgas because that's the easiest way to get hydrogen and heat.

New plants (2)

Lando (9348) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939643)

I wasn't aware that they were planning on building several new nuclear plants. I had heard of one or two, but sixteen is quite a few more than I expected. What caused this shift in new building versus how new plants were basically put on hiatus after three mile?

Re:New plants (4, Informative)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939805)

There are two new plants, the other 14 are existing plants that applied to put in additional reactors (25 reactors in total).

Re:New plants (1)

Lando (9348) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940573)

Ah, thank you. Any idea what changed the political environment? Or is it just an energy issue that slowly built up until it reached a critical mass?

Re:New plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939993)

What, you want to run the existing reactors until they are 60, 70, 80 years old? New tech replacements are much better all around.

Re:New plants (1)

Lando (9348) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940545)

Ummm, where did I say that I wanted to run old plants for 60+ years? I have no idea what it takes to run a plant for that long. My question had to do with the politics of building a new plant and didn't mention old plants at all. But, if you want to know my personal opinion, running a plant for 80 years is probably better than running a coal plant even in the face of an eventual breach. Three mile island was the one that scared everyone, or at least supposedly did, but I bet that coal plants put out far more radiation than three mile every year they are in production, not to mention the other wastes they produce. That doesn't mean I advocate for fission plants either, just that in my opinion coal plants are worse.

was't that the reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939713)

....that they built Yucca Mountain for?

No, wait, they closed that down. WTF?!?!?

Re:was't that the reason... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940219)

Yucca Mountain was shut down because the anti-nuclear panic-mongers kept protesting and suing to stop the *transport* of waste from reactor sites *to* Yucca Mountain. The irrational fear of radioactive materials, even being properly stored and handled, has prevented the proper storage and handling of radioactive materials. Talk about irony.

The Sub-Seabed Solution (0)

kEnder242 (262421) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939753)

Burial of Radioactive Waste under the Seabed; January 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Hollister, Nadis; 6 Page(s)

On the floor of the deep oceans, poised in the middle of the larger tectonic plates, lie vast mudflats that might appear, at first glance, to constitute some of the least valuable real estate on the planet. The rocky crust underlying these "abyssal plains" is blanketed by a sedimentary layer, hundreds of meters thick, composed of clays that resemble dark chocolate and have the consistency of peanut butter. Bereft of plant life and sparsely populated with fauna, these regions are relatively unproductive from a biological standpoint and largely devoid of mineral wealth.

Yet they may prove to be of tremendous worth, offering a solution to two problems that have bedeviled humankind since the dawn of the nuclear age: these neglected suboceanic formations might provide a permanent resting place for high-level radioactive wastes and a burial ground for the radioactive materials removed from nuclear bombs. Although the disposal of radioactive wastes and the sequestering of material from nuclear weapons pose different challenges and exigencies, the two tasks could have a common solution: burial below the seabed.

Also:
http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/96oct/seabed/seabed.htm [theatlantic.com]

Re:The Sub-Seabed Solution (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940053)

Burial of Radioactive Waste under the Seabed

You have to transport the waste to these deep-sea sites. Underwater recovery in the event of an accident becomes a very expensive and dangerous business.

The worst that can happen to a shipment that moves by rail to a site in Nevada is a routine derailment.

You clear the site, bring in a crane, reload the containers onto another car, and move on.

Too late now... (1)

Kergan (780543) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939781)

The question ought to have been asked 60 years ago; not today.

The half life of some of the waste is hundreds of thousands or millions of years. We're stuck with it for that long -- complete with storage facilities and, if necessary, security.

The real question is who pays. The nuclear plant operator (talk about a liability...) or the public (that's quite a liability too, and not one you can readily default on)?

Re:Too late now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939965)

if it has a half life of a million years then it has a very low activity. stable elements have an infinate half life.

Re:Too late now... (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940147)

That's the half-assed way of dealing with it. Reprocessing and advanced reactor designs can massively cut the lifetime of the waste while allowing for more energy to be extracted without the need for more raw materials.

Re:Too late now... (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940211)

If we remove the actinides (also known as fuel), the remainder will decay to safe levels within 500 years. By safe levels, I mean no more radioactive than the naturally occurring ore the fuel came from in the first place.

Re:Too late now... (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940351)

The question ought to have been asked 60 years ago; not today.

Well it wasn't. And wishing it was really doesn't help, unless you have a time machine you're not telling us about.

Of course no one seems to be all that concerned with what we're going to do with all of the EOLed solar panels that are out there now. Nor how big a problem that would become if they become mainstream. Or the issues that their production entails. There's a lot of really nasty shit that's left over from solar panel production. And a lot of not-so-good for you stuff in them too.

This seems to be a problem for us as a species. We didn't worry about dumping sewage into rivers until it was a big issue.We didn't think about AWG when we started burning dinosaur remains, etc. We tend to do stuff that creates a problem, and so far have been lucky enough to fix it after the fact. Let's hope we can keep doing that.

Hope and change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40939841)

We have the ability to store nuclear waste safely. We've been doing it for over 50 years. We have the ability to use reprocessed nuclear waste in breeder reactors. Nuclear power is in it's 4th generation and is safe and clean. It's far lower in emitting CO2. And yet? The Obama Administration can't wrap it's head around effective technology, preferring to utilize low capacity solar and wind instead. It's a sad state of affairs from an administration that can't conceive of any technology that doesn't preen with left-wing sheen.

They can put a cask in my back yard (3, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#40939927)

But the deal is, whoever owns my house gets free electricity, in any amount they want to use (as a Minnesotan, I can see the value of a heated driveway & sidewalks).

I always thought they should have done something like that when building a new nuke plant. To make nice with the neighbors, all residents within an X mile radius get electricity at a sharp discount (aka wholesale prices).

Re:They can put a cask in my back yard (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940181)

Nothing like a bribe to counter NIMBY sentiments.

Sounds like a good idea - almost as good as a small-scale reactor for a neighborhood that provides essentially unlimited power and hot water. If it's good enough for a sub, it's good enough for me.

Re:They can put a cask in my back yard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940629)

What good is free energy if you get radiation sickness or cancer in a few months?

While I am a hippie-geek, I think we should be researching and building a better nuclear power plant than the typical one. Plus, make sure it is safe from natural or man-made problems.

Nuclear is better than coal, about the same as natural gas, but personal ownership of their own renewable power generation is the way to go through solar, solar thermal, or wind.

Breeder reactors? (2)

poly_pusher (1004145) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940171)

Has their been any significant progress toward Breeder reactors? Reactors that use existing spent fuel and can tap energy from our rotting nuclear arsenal always sounded lucrative to me but progress towards reactors of this sort has been slow. What are the challenges of producing reactors like this?

Re:Breeder reactors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940591)

Jimmy Carter outlawed breeders for fears of nuclear proliferation. Sure there are plenty of great designs like the Candu, but we can't use them here.

Good (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940221)

It is not responsible to operate a reactor if you don't have a solid plan for dealing with the waste.

US Freezes to Death (3, Insightful)

blindseer (891256) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940527)

The federal government is shutting down coal mines, holding up nuclear power plants, and denying permits for oil drills and pipelines. It seems like every week we hear about another solar power company going out of business because of mismanagement, fraud, and/or because they can't make a panel that works. We've dammed up every river worth a dam. Where are we supposed to get our electricity?

Wind power might actually pan out as cheap and viable if only the federal government would let someone run the wires from where the wind blows to where the people need the electricity. Since the wind blows when it wants we'll still need some sort of storage or backup. Natural gas seems to be booming despite the best efforts of the federal government to stop that too. If we add pumping stations to the hydro dams we got we could store the electricity when the wind blows. Wind, pumped hydro, and natural gas might make for a nice mix for our electricity, each complementing the others. Problem is that at some point we're going to run out of natural gas. Can we build enough dams and windmills to power our world? Can we do it cheap enough to maintain our standard of living?

The problem of nuclear waste is a creation of the federal government. They decided that we cannot recycle the "spent" fuel from current reactors. The so called "spent" fuel still contains large amounts of usable fuel, it's just tainted with the fission products of the fuel that was used up. The fuel waste problem would actually be solved with new, more efficient, nuclear reactors designed to use the "spent" fuel from the old reactors.

We supposedly have a Department of Energy to solve these problems. What are they doing for us?

It's just so frustrating seeing the government foul things up for us. The energy problems we have now are all political. The government is causing more problems than it's solving. Don't get me wrong, we need government. I think the government has just gotten too big. To get a power plant built or a pipeline run a person would have to satisfy dozens of different agencies that often have conflicting goals. We need to trim down the size of government, getting rid of the Department of Energy is as good of a place to start as any.

Rant over.

This is a kind of dumbass event (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#40940603)

The licensing was shut down because the NRC issued a report indicating that existing solutions are safe and effective, and didn't report what would happen if they were wrong.

This is sort of like the stupidity around "the LHC dragons":

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

Here, let me help them out: "If we're wrong about being able to store nuclear waste, we could all be turned into Super Mario characters. If that doesn't work out, we'll have to reprocess the spent fuel, with the down side that energy becomes cheap and abundant and we have power forever.".

No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40940659)

No problem! COVER the entire United States with really big wind turbines that make some people vomit from vestibular overload! The remaining operating nuclear plants can be used for excitation current.

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