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How Yucca Mountain Was Killed

timothy posted about a year ago | from the actually-the-mountain's-doing-just-fine dept.

United States 340

ATKeiper writes "The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which was selected by the U.S. government in the 1980s to be the nation's permanent facility for storing nuclear waste, is essentially dead. A new article in The New Atlantis explains how the project was killed: 'In the end, the Obama administration succeeded, by a combination of legal authority and bureaucratic will, in blocking Congress's plan for the Yucca Mountain repository — certainly for the foreseeable future, and perhaps permanently.... The saga of Yucca Mountain's creation and apparent demise, and of the seeming inability of the courts to prevent the Obama administration from unilaterally nullifying the decades-old statutory framework for Yucca, illustrates how energy infrastructure is uniquely subject to the control of the executive branch, and so to the influence of presidential politics.' A report from the Government Accountability Office notes that the termination 'essentially restarts a time-consuming and costly process [that] has already cost nearly $15 billion through 2009.'"

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340 comments

How Jesus Was Killed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209413)

Jews

FIRST POST FOR JESUS. Repent ye sinners. Keep it real.

What Jesus Was: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209841)

A Jew.

For Real.

Re:What Jesus Was: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210247)

A middle eastern Jew at that!

Also, a dirty hippy.

Two dirty words harry reid (2, Informative)

aurispector (530273) | about a year ago | (#42209427)

end of story

Re:Two dirty words harry reid (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42209553)

Pretty much, yeah. When you're one of the big guys in the prez' coterie, you get what you want, and Reid (D, NV) got what he wanted. ...of course, we still have to figure out where to put all the $#@%^! nuclear waste, but you know, at least Reid got what he wanted.

I propose we bury it in LA County, specifically Hollywood - earthquakes be damned.

Re:Two dirty words harry reid (5, Funny)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42210131)

Pretty much, yeah. When you're one of the big guys in the prez' coterie, you get what you want, and Reid (D, NV) got what he wanted. ...of course, we still have to figure out where to put all the $#@%^! nuclear waste, but you know, at least Reid got what he wanted.

I propose we bury it in LA County, specifically Hollywood - earthquakes be damned.

The combination of the new nuclear waste and the human waste already stored there could form a singularity.

Re:Two dirty words harry reid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210733)

we still have to figure out where to put all the $#@%^! nuclear waste

Make the politicians eat it. Yucca was a safe facility with little chance of leakage.

Re:Two dirty words harry reid (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42209663)

end of story

Blame him if you like, but it's most of the NIMBYs. For years the Dept of Energy performed nuclear tests in the Nevada desert, pockmarking the landscape [google.com]. Now traces of radiation have been found in ground water hundreds of miles from the sites, due to the nature of faults in the Basin and Ridge region and movement of underground water. Tends to scare people and they tend to make their will known to their representatives in the capitol.

Meanwhile, the Hanford site is in dire need (and has been) of shutting down, with no new disposal location in sight. A friend worked at Hanford for a couple years and explained to me how it was never meant to house as much waste as it does and the long-term storage wasn't in the original plans. Old vaults of waste have been found to be developing cracks and been reinforced.

Re:Two dirty words harry reid (4, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about a year ago | (#42209967)

Old vaults of waste have been found to be developing cracks and been reinforced.

It's faaaaar worse than that. One of our borehole geophones came back from a job at Hanford with the 1/2" thick aluminium tube so eaten away that it had to be replaced. That would be 100's of meters down a hole (I think they had a 500m cable...).

That's why Nevada was the right place (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210515)

Nevada was selected for the Nation's dangerous nuclear activities PRECISELY because it was barren and relatively unpopulated. Having polluted it with many nuclear blasts over decades, we effectively made it even MORE appropriate that we concentrate all the waste there.

Any civilian who moved there after the testing began in the 1940's has no right to complain; that's like moving into a house next to the airport (which you guy at a discount because of the noise) and then demanding the airport get shut down because it is depressing the value of your home

What could possibly be WORSE than putting all the waste into a single multi-billion dollar containment facility (designed by the nation's top scientists in the field) where it can be guarded and monitored? Oh... let's seeee.... the OBMA PLAN: let it accumulate in various containers at power plants and medical facilities all over the country with dubious monitoring/guarding.

Even if we were to abandon nuclear power (not gonna happen... we will always have nuclear-powered naval vessels) we would still produce lots of nuclear waste in industry and in the medical field, so the current no-plan plan is mind-blowingly stupid and short-sighted

So what (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209485)

1) $15 billion is small potatoes if that's all it's cost through now, not per year. 2) This seems like a fairly iffy idea anyway for any number of reasons 3) If you're really concerned about costs, actually read the goddamned report and see (page 27) where it would cost $41-67 billion more to actually complete.

Cutting off an iffy project that would result in many times its current cost seems like a win.

Re:So what (5, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42209765)

...so how much of that cost was in fending off lawsuits, and putting up with bucketloads of other legal (and not-so-legal) obstruction?

Seriously - they were working on this thing 20+ years ago. Most of the time it was held up, off and on, due to lawsuits, protests, demands for still more environmental impact statements...

Shit, I wouldn't be surprised if at least $5bn of the total cost-to-date wasn't spent in legal fees, money paid to contractors (and their employees) who were forced to sit idle while awaiting the outcome of an injunction, and various other BS shenanigans.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210329)

Informative? If there was any kind of reference to back up these implications, but these are all questions. Mods: interesting, or maybe insightful, but not informative. Stuff like this makes me seriously doubt the moderators on this site any more.

No long term consistency (4, Informative)

Sabalon (1684) | about a year ago | (#42209487)

That's the biggest problems with shifts in power, especially if parties change every four years. One party spends four years getting something in place, or sets some long term goals, and then next election someone else comes in and changes it all. So they spend all the time and money getting one thing spun up and then it gets canned and they spend the next four years doing something else and it may be canned.

Gotta be a better way.

Re:No long term consistency (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about a year ago | (#42209677)

Actually I like this system : for a long term project to succeed, it requires it to be consistent, non-partisan and well done. Arguably, the Yucca project had a lot of shortcomings, and the increasing maturity of fast-breeder reactors makes it likely that some of the wastes we want to bury will actually be usable as very precious and energetic fuel in 20 years. It makes sense to keep it stored in a more accessible fashion.

Re:No long term consistency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209755)

The problems in partisan politics today have nothing to do with ideals. It has all the trappings of a football game where someone roots mindlessly for a team, right or wrong. This is true on both "sides" of the one party system we have in the states.

Re:No long term consistency (5, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | about a year ago | (#42210241)

Actually I like this system : for a long term project to succeed, it requires it to be consistent, non-partisan and well done

This is as much about regional as partisan politics, although both have a role. The US is a relatively weak federation in important respects, and the ability of regional power bases to disrupt national policy is considerable.

In science and technology, this usually appears as pork for supporters: various bits of the space shuttle (most famously, the SRBs) had to be made in particular states to garner the support of the appropriate senators.

For single-site projects, like the superconducting supercolider in the '80's, everyone was for it until a specific site was identified, at which point everyone but the representatives from that state (Texas, I think), and that concerted opposition was enough to kill it.

In the case of Yucca Mountain, the representatives from Nevada (notably Harry Reid) were able to concentrate their opposition, while no one was particularly zealous in favour of it.

So in the US, single-site projects that have high political or economic costs or benefits to the state involved tend to fail. This is built in to the US system of regional representation.

As such, local storage of waste--which would eliminate the decidedly non-negligible transport risk--is likely the only viable solution for Americans, because your government is structurally incapable of sustaining any other solution.

Re:No long term consistency (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42209693)

That's the biggest problems with shifts in power, especially if parties change every four years. One party spends four years getting something in place, or sets some long term goals, and then next election someone else comes in and changes it all. So they spend all the time and money getting one thing spun up and then it gets canned and they spend the next four years doing something else and it may be canned.

Gotta be a better way.

Democracy is the worst method of government, except for all the alternatives.

Re:No long term consistency (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42210029)

I take a different tact. Shifts in power provide checks and balances to insure that one groups entitlements and kickbacks do not become permanent policy. Yucca mountain is a boondoggle that effectively outsource the cost of waste delivery to the taxpayer. Yes I know that the nuclear energy companies put money into a fund. Yes I know that most will claim that nuclear power companies pay for all expenses. But even if that is the case now, history says it at some point future tax payers will get stuck with the costs. We see this in the superfund which has been not been funded by industry for almost over 15 years. Congress has been appropriating tax payer money for 10 years.

The issue with Yucca mountain is simply that nuclear power is not economical, meaning that given other sources and the fact that nuclear fuel cannot just put in landfill or the atmosphere, it cannot compete. Now, if we had a large carbon tax, nuclear would likely become economical. Even so, there would still a huge issue with waste. Reprocessing can handle part of the problems, but not the entire problem. The problem would have to be solved by the industry, which is not even willing to build nuclear power plants without government handouts. One solution? Buy some island, build secure infrastructure, place the waste there. It would be expensive, and would have national security implications, but that will always be the case with spent nuclear fuel.

So the real issues. How much are the nuclear power firms going to be able to con the taxpayers out of given the current political climate. How much are the politicians going to use the national security issue to thwart reasonable solution so that taxpayers can be hoodwinked. How much are the current power providers going to fight to not live under the rules that everyone else does. At the time many people saw yucca mountain as a silly idea. There was interesting science in it, but I don't think anyone was really thinking it would ever happen. It was a fantasy put forth so that we were confortable that the spent nuclear fuel would be eventually disposed.

Re:No long term consistency (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#42210633)

Just make it a law that nuclear waste may not pass state borders and has to be processed and dumped in the same state where it was produced (and have someone there pay for it).

Re:No long term consistency (2)

superdave80 (1226592) | about a year ago | (#42210229)

Ask Mexico how things went with generation after generation of one party rule. Notice how everyone is trying to get the hell out of there as fast as they can?

All power comes at a price (5, Insightful)

Toe, The (545098) | about a year ago | (#42209511)

There is no such thing as a free lunch. All power has its cost. Yes, even wind and solar.

Solar panels huge enough to collect loads of energy also cool the ground underneath them; changing climate patterns. And they kill what lives under them. (And if you put them in space, then you have the little problem of transporting the energy.)

Wind farms huge enough to create loads of energy may actually affect wind patterns and temperature dispersal. Plus they kill loads of migrating birds.

And both require many, many resources to build and maintain the collection devices.

Hydro; well, that's an eco-disaster because you have to dam a river to produce it.

Collecting energy from tides? If you did that on a huge scale, I'll bet it would have some major effects on marine life.

Just want to put it out there. I'm not saying nuclear is fantastic. Just want to point out that nothing is.

Re:All power comes at a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209611)

Indeed of all the power sources, newly designed reactors of the various types seem to have far less impact. I have also heard that for instance thorium reactors will burn existing waste fuel for some time to come that will actually reduce any existing waste footprint for many many years to come.

 

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year ago | (#42209725)

Hell, other types of uranium reactors can burn existing "waste" fuel. The whole waste issue is almost entirely political.

Humanity is complete animal garbage. Every day is Opposite Day, and nothing with *ever* be done correctly.

But, you know, yay Red, yay Blue!

Ah well. Administration probably needed the money for loan guarantees on the new High Electrolyte Unicorn power plant.

um... moste waste is not spent fuel rods... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210725)

Most US nuclear waste (by volume) is NOT spent fuel rods (it IS by weight, because the stuff's so damn heavy). We produce lots and lots of radioactive waste in the medical field and in various industrial processes and NONE of that is going into a breeder reactor. The Nation needed a solution and pre-Obama we had a national bi-partisan solution into which we poured billions of dollars: Yucca Mountain. Post-Obama, we will need a solution and there will still be no better place. Like nearly everything else the man is "kicking down the road" it will have to be dealt with later (when it will be both more painful and more expensive) ... and, like his bloated spending, it will be the young dopes who supported him who will pay the biggest price in the latter halves of their lives.

Conservation would be a good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209615)

No, it doesn't permanently solve the problem, but it's a low-cost, high-payoff way to start.

Re:All power comes at a price (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209651)

Always interesting to see that there are really people as dumb as you.

Re:All power comes at a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209811)

Why is he dumb? He is pointing out that almost *all* forms of energy harvesting that we are currently trying to use have shortcomings. Did he happen to pick on one you like?

It is a matter of pick what bad thing you can put up with. Me personally (when they come down a bit more) am going to slather the top of my house with solar. As that is already 'dead space'.

Re:All power comes at a price (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42209703)

Dunno about the others, but I call bullshit on this bit:

Solar panels huge enough to collect loads of energy also cool the ground underneath them; changing climate patterns. And they kill what lives under them. (And if you put them in space, then you have the little problem of transporting the energy.)

Err, no.
* The panels themselves bear and handle the heat. It isn't as if you're instantly piping all the heat somewhere else, since the panels are bolted to the ground.

* Shade does not automatically kill everything. You won't find plants under one which demand full sunlight, but anything else (especially animals) would probably appreciate and take advantage of the shade. Finally, if you park the panels in the desert (where nearly nothing grows anyway), it's not even a worry.

* Energy transport from space to Earth is actually a solved problem. [wikipedia.org]

Re:All power comes at a price (4, Interesting)

KeithJM (1024071) | about a year ago | (#42209963)

As a Seattleite, I'll point out that solar energy isn't the solution everywhere. I think the real issue is that we can't just choose a single energy source and decide it is going to replace oil. If you look at the numbers, we don't grow enough corn to make enough ethanol to do it (and we grow a ton of corn). We don't receive enough sunlight to completely replace oil with sunlight with our current solar panels without covering most of the planet, etc. What we can do is use multiple sources to generate electricity, and work to improve battery technology so we can more efficiently cart it around (oil is a really efficient way to transport energy). We don't need to pick one. We can use a bunch of them, and Seattle can use the tide while Arizona uses the sun.

Re:All power comes at a price (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42210019)

*shrug* - I live near Portland, and even under a fully cloudy day (we get those as often as you do), you can still eke out enough light to get a good amount of output - just have to oversize things a bit.

However, I never said that it were any sort of universal solution, and I agree with your post otherwise.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

SlickNic (1097097) | about a year ago | (#42210189)

Corn to Ethanol production is current waste of time. The growing of corn takes more fuel than what it produces or in some newer studies it makes just slightly more than it takes to produce it. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/ethanol_fuel_basics.html [energy.gov]

Re:All power comes at a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210353)

Wrong.

Well, I suppose it's correct in the sense that everything takes more than it produces, thanks to entropy.

But most of those calculations? Charge the input of the whole field to ethanol production even when most of it goes to the food supply.

Even the site you reference indicates that:

Ethanol is primarily produced from the starch in corn grain in the United States. Some studies suggest that corn-based ethanol has a negative energy balance, meaning it takes more energy to produce the fuel than the amount of energy the fuel provides. However, recent studies using updated data about corn production methods demonstrate a positive energy balance for corn ethanol.

It even has links. You may be interested in reading them.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

KeithJM (1024071) | about a year ago | (#42210361)

Yeah, I think ethanol is an attempt to solve the second problem -- how do you replace petroleum products as a way to move energy around. Big, heavy batteries struggle to give you 100 miles range while gas can give you 400 pretty easily. Ethanol lets us inefficiently (from an amount of power used) store power in a very efficient form.

Really, from a power production point of view ethanol is similar to solar power. You just have plants producing usable energy from the sun instead of solar panels, and that process is far more efficient than our solar panels. It's the conversion that sucks.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#42210551)

Corn to ethanol only makes sense if you are trying to build up the ethanol infrastructure in the hopes of more efficient production methods coming down the pike. Already it has displaced chemicals like MTBE, and all cars built since the early 2000s can handle E85, and most service stations seem capable of delivering the now-common 10% ethanol gasoline. But it certainly is a gamble. Dupont is opening up a cellulosic ethanol plant, so the tech may very well become viable.

Re:All power comes at a price (2, Insightful)

Toe, The (545098) | about a year ago | (#42210035)

The panels themselves bear and handle the heat. It isn't as if you're instantly piping all the heat somewhere else, since the panels are bolted to the ground.

Whatever energy the collectors collect is energy that is not left there. Gigantic farms are going to move a lot of energy away from a place.

Shade does not automatically kill everything. You won't find plants under one which demand full sunlight, but anything else (especially animals) would probably appreciate and take advantage of the shade.

Well, first, plants are life too. Huge farms are going to kill lots of plants. And the things which eat those plants. And the things which live in/on/around them. Just because they're not visible or edible to you doesn't mean that they don't have wide-ranging impacts on their ecosystem.

Finally, if you park the panels in the desert (where nearly nothing grows anyway), it's not even a worry.

And I call bullshit on this one. Deserts are full of life and are fragile ecosystems. Filling a desert with panels would wreck havoc on them.

Energy transport from space to Earth is actually a solved problem.

The main criticism of nuclear is about risk of an accident. What happens if your microwave energy beam from space mis-fires?

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42210561)

Whatever energy the collectors collect is energy that is not left there. Gigantic farms are going to move a lot of energy away from a place.

Photovoltaic conversion doesn't convert heat to energy, but instead converts light to energy. As a matter of fact, heat is something that you want to avoid too much of, since increased heat degrades cell efficiency.

Meanwhile, the generated heat is still there where it fell, and isn't going anywhere that it otherwise wouldn't go. Any Newtonian-based heat deficit would be some damned-near infinitesimal percentage at absolute best, and most likely contrived.

Well, first, plants are life too. Huge farms are going to kill lots of plants.

Please stop weaseling... you said that solar panels would kill *all* life underneath it. That is simply not true (if it were, putting one on a house rooftop would be rather hazardous to the occupants underneath, now wouldn't it?) And unless you can cough up some sort of proof, your latest iteration of this charge isn't all that much better.

And I call bullshit on this one. Deserts are full of life and are fragile ecosystems. Filling a desert with panels would wreck havoc on them.

Deserts do have life, but not that much plant life... at least not enough to worry about when designing or building a solar array.

The main criticism of nuclear is about risk of an accident. What happens if your microwave energy beam from space mis-fires?

You may want to look this up before talking any further about it [wikipedia.org]
  TL;DR: I wouldn't recommend sunbathing for hours on end under one, but it certainly won't turn you into a two-legged burrito.

Re:All power comes at a price (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#42210133)

Err, no.
* The panels themselves bear and handle the heat. It isn't as if you're instantly piping all the heat somewhere else, since the panels are bolted to the ground.

Err, yes. That is *exactly* what solar panels do. They convert some amount of the light energy to electricity which is piped somewhere else. So some of the heat from that surface area is ending up as heat somewhere else, transmitted in the form of electricity. Obviously solar panels are not 100% efficient, thus they still get hot. However they cannot be as hot as a simple surface with the same light absorption - the latter would convert all of the light it absorbs directly to heat. That difference in heat between a static surface and solar panel (with the same light absorption) is the electricity that the solar panels produce.

Additionally, the heat solar panels do emit doesn't travel into the ground. It convects into the air around it. Solar panels actually work best when cool. So it is important that air can flow under them to help keep them as cool as possible.

The point is any time you're bleeding energy away from one part of the earth and piping it to a different area you are going to have an effect. The larger the scale, the larger the effect. Nuclear doesn't move energy around - it literally creates it directly from matter. So the OPs points are valid. It's just a matter of how large an impact those forms of energy production will have when operating at global scale.

Re:All power comes at a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210605)

Finally, if you park the panels in the desert (where nearly nothing grows anyway), it's not even a worry.

My company built some panels in the desert and unexpectedly got overrun with 5 ft-tall weeds that grew up between the panels. They think the construction churned up some long-dormant seeds in the soil; in a few years it should go back to being complete desert again.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about a year ago | (#42210655)

* The panels themselves bear and handle the heat. It isn't as if you're instantly piping all the heat somewhere else, since the panels are bolted to the ground.

Actually, it is exactly that you are piping the energy somewhere else. That's the entire point of solar photovoltaic.

Re:All power comes at a price (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42209741)

Wind doesn't kill loads of migrating birds. It slices and dices a few hawks but that's about it. The 1.5 megawatt turbines move slow enough birds are usually out of the way of the blades. Most slice 'n dice jobs are the older, smaller turbines.

Further, it lends well to dual purpose land-use, the Shiloh II Wind Farm, Solano County, California, is grazing land so there's no lost land use.

Re:All power comes at a price (5, Funny)

radtea (464814) | about a year ago | (#42210349)

Wind doesn't kill loads of migrating birds

The Committee for Supporting the Ridiculous Kabuki Theatre that Passes for Environmental Policy Discussion would like to extend its gratitude to you for stepping up and posting the mandated reply to the inevitable idiot who comments that "windmills kill birds" twenty years after the major changes to windmill design substantially mitigated the problem.

The Committee estimates that there are still roughly 3.2 billion idiots on Earth who have not updated their beliefs from the 1980s, and appreciate that while the task of replying to every single one of these unmitigated morons is arduous, tireless volunteers like yourself will eventually have replied to each and every one of them at least once by 2075.

By that time, it is estimated that the average idiot will have been corrected at least 5 times, and that perhaps as many as 1% of them will have updated their beliefs in light of reality. While this number may seem disappointingly small in fractional terms, remember: it is still upwards of 30 million human beings whose tiny little minds have been changed by pointing out just how stupid they look when repeating falsehoods from several decades past.

Keep up the good work!

Re:All power comes at a price (2)

cecilgol (977329) | about a year ago | (#42210897)

Birds are not so much the concern these days, its migratory bats. Bats that move across the southern border are keystone species for pollination of many different plants, including agave, which is obviously the cornerstone of the tequila market. more windfarms == less tequila. Also, the way the bats are killed is pretty gruesome. They dont get chopped up, rather the rapid air pressure change from outside a windfarm to within it causes their fragile lungs to explode. http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/pub_abstract.asp?PubID=22795 [usgs.gov]

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#42209807)

Well then, I propose we declare war on the laws of thermodynamics.

On a more serious note, the important costs with most of those are dollars. "Solar kills what lives under them" is really not what's stopping solar power, the costs of converting are. And maybe that's mainly due to lobbyists and subsidies, I don't know. What I do know is that it's the money and not concern for the empty lots where panels would be placed that's keeping us from switching.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209825)

I live underneath an array of solar panels over my bedroom. I'm not dead yet. And they power my whole house.

They might cool my roof in the Summer, but they won't be changing any climate patterns. Asphalt shingles and roads would be a much bigger contributor...

Compared to other power generation methods, it is very good, and I own my own power plant. It will be even better in a few years when the prices get even cheaper. I bought my panels 2 years ago, and the price has come down 30-40% since then.

As for Yucca mountain, I'm probably one of the few people here who has seen the mountain and worked around there. We do need to come up with a better plan for long term radioactive disposal. Maybe have a few (6) places around the country instead of 1 big one. But the way it is handled right now isn't very good.

Re:All power comes at a price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210181)

I'd argue that having more than 1 site is a bad idea. It'd be like having a raid0 and adding more disks. Your chance of having a failure (toxic waste going everywhere) increases the more sites you have. Having 1 site only would limit where we can put stuff, but assuming it's sufficient to hold our waste, it's safer than putting the stuff all over the place.

Re:All power comes at a price (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#42210043)

I have a couple better lines. Solar panels use semiconductor manufacturing techniques which require the use of solvents. Since most production is in China the solvents and the rest of the solution usually are just dumped into rivers and ponds. The result is a lot of pollution and liquid waste [washingtonpost.com]. Oh and windmills kill birds.

Trucking, Storage, and Fuck it (2)

rullywowr (1831632) | about a year ago | (#42209541)

Not to mention the idea of every morsel of radioactive waste being transported on public highways to a single location (Yucca Mountain) is not that popular. Sucks we still don't have a long term solution to this nasty problem. Oh well fuck it, we will leave it for the next generation - right?

Re:Trucking, Storage, and Fuck it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209639)

It was asinine to ever widely use nuclear power without a solid waste disposal policy in the first place.

50+ years and we still have no good idea what to do with all this shit.

Re:Trucking, Storage, and Fuck it (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209761)

Use it in other types of reactors.

We know exactly what to do with it, but the sociopaths you stupid fuckheads keep voting into office won't let it happen.

Re:Trucking, Storage, and Fuck it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209657)

It was more than just the transport issues, the mountain itself was not fit for storing such nasty leftovers. It should have been killed a long time ago.

Re:Trucking, Storage, and Fuck it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210055)

Not to mention the idea of every morsel of radioactive waste being transported on public highways to a single location (Yucca Mountain) is not that popular.

That problem was solved long ago. Did you really think you were the first guy to consider highway accidents?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mHtOW-OBO4

A reinforced warehouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209561)

Why can't the nuclear waste be stored in a simple reinforced warehouse instead of a repository hundreds of meters into a mountain? A meter thick wall of reinforced concrete can withstand almost anything less than a military strike and then casks themselves are almost inpentrable. Natural disasters can be taken care of by choosing a proper location. Sure, this is not a good option if we want to leave it without maintenance for thousands of years, but who cases what happens to the waste if there's no humans around? This would in any case imply that something far more serious has happened anyway. Is there anything I'm missing?

It was ALIVE?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209597)

Oh my! I realize nuclear waste is dangerous, but if it has the power to bring mountains to life, we really need to be more careful with the stuff. I'm glad we were able to kill it.

Sounds like a great "plan" (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#42209721)

So instead of storing highly toxic and radioactive waste deep underground in specially designed and very expensive long term storage meant to keep it safe from all kinds of disasters, we can keep storing it above ground in short-term storage pools that we know will fail if they should be exposed to a decent sized disaster. Keep in mind this isn't storage just for future waste, but stuff that actually exists, right now, sitting in short-term storage, and if you read TFA, you'll find out not only is there no other long-term storage option, there isn't even a plan for one. So who are most people going to blame when (not if, but when, unless we do something about it) those current storage sites fail? I'm betting it won't be Obama. Anyone want to take that bet?

President I hate America Strikes again (0)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42209781)

So we can't burn our coal, we can't store our nuclear waste in an affordable way, and if the EPA gets its way we won't be able to continue our growth in cheap natural gas either. All without care for the fact that we still have no-effective base load green energy solution.

Re:President I hate America Strikes again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209947)

Whats even better is the consumers, as in the American public, have already paid the government $15 Billion for this project. Once again, the US government takes from the public, is unanserable to the public, and tells us to shut up and go away. This is what, the 50th thing Obama has done that he believes he is unaccountable to the public or Congress for? Whats the difference between this administration and a dictatorship?

Re:President I hate America Strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210057)

I guess it is time to invade Iran to get their oil then.

Neocon View (5, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#42209819)

The author Adam J White, is a lawyer specializing in fighting federal regulation and is a contributor to the neocon rag The Weekly Standard (founded by Bill Kristol). This piece places the failure of Yucca mountain singularly on president Obama while saying worshipful things about Reagan every other paragraph.

So take this "article" with a grain of salt. Any federal regulation is wrong to this neocon and everything is the fault of the current president. There was plenty of controversy and challenges to Yucca before Obama became president.

Re:Neocon View (4, Interesting)

guises (2423402) | about a year ago | (#42209951)

Thank you. I'm disappointed that I had to read down this far to find a comment like this, I get suspicious anytime I see anyone talking about "the Obama administration" doing anything. It's like "anthropogenic climate change" - a phrase which is technically accurate, but generally only used by partisans.

Re:Neocon View (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210299)

Thank you. Having my left wing prejudices affirmed usually happens much earlier in the discussion.

FTFY.

Fact is Chu and Jaczko killed Yucca on orders from Ried. They used demonstrably unscientific FUD to rationalize it and unilateral executive power to implement it.

One day a containment pool stuffed with decades of spent fuel is going to be compromised by an earthquake, a flood or some other inevitability. You'll blame corporations or the 'rich' or whatever else they've trained you to hate, but you won't look to yourself. Oh no.

You voted for it — at least twice now — so suck on it.

Re:Neocon View (3, Insightful)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#42210199)

Regardless of the piece, Obama made it a campaign pledge to stop Yucca Mountain, and stopping it has happened on his watch.

You can assign Obama blame for this or praise him for doing what he promised to do, but the result is the same and the facts do not appear to be in dispute.

- A 1987 law passed by congress required the NRC to evalute the Yucca Mountain site for suitability for nuclear waste storage.
- In fulfilling his campaign promise, the Obama budget didn't allocate any new money to implement this law and Obama told the energy department to withdraw the application to the NRC to build the project.
- Henry Reed didn't want it in his state, and was successful in blocking further financing for it in the Senate (even theough the House budget funded it), but he did not have the votes to change the original law that required the NRC evaluate the site.
- It appears the NRC will now be forced by a federal appeals court to spend the previously authorized money to continue to evaluate the site until the money is gone (there isn't enough money to complete the evaluation) because of the 1987 law passed by congress.

Certainly there are many problems with Yucca, but it appears that the NRC will be effectively prohibited to publish its report on Yucca Mountain by budgetary manuevers to cut off it's funding w/o actually overturning the law that authorized the evaluation. It probably wasn't gonna happen anyways (even Romney was against Yucca Mountain), so all that money was just a sunk cost. I guess the ends justifies the means in this case...

Re:Neocon View (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210401)

You can almost predict when ad hominem arguments are acceptable on Slashdot, and when they are not [slashdot.org]

Great champions of logic, we.

Scary (5, Interesting)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42209833)

It's scary how much president's get away with doing unilaterally these days. They start wars (Libya, Serbia) without congressional authorization. They unilaterally put into effect laws that they couldn't get passed through congress (like the DREAM act). Congress has become so cowed that the only tool they have against the president, impeachment, is pretty much a dirty word.

I wish both parties in congress would start defending their institution more. Congress is supposed to be the source of laws and an obstacle to actions they deem appropriate. The president is supposed to make sure the laws are followed out, not make the laws himself.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210015)

It's like they've had "emergency powers" since the Korean War or something!

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210373)

I wish both parties in congress would start defending their institution more. Congress is supposed to be the source of laws and an obstacle to actions they deem appropriate. The president is supposed to make sure the laws are followed out, not make the laws himself.

Good luck with that. Neither party will do anything about it because both parties want "Their Guy" to be able to do these things.

After all, which thing exactly did Obama do that Bush didn't? Start wars? Annul laws with Signing Statements and Executive Orders?

Oh that's right, they were wars the Republicans wanted and therefore it's ok. They were laws the Republicans didn't like and therefore it's ok. When they do it.

Hypocrites, the whole fucking lot.

From the article.. (4, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year ago | (#42209897)

"must be stored in isolation for tens of thousands of years"

I find this to be extremely silly and wrong

It does not need to be stored for tens of thousands of years

It needs to be stored until technological and political change turn it from a waste into a valuable material for reuse

Re:From the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210417)

"must be stored in isolation for tens of thousands of years"

I find this to be extremely silly and wrong

It does not need to be stored for tens of thousands of years

It needs to be stored until technological and political change turn it from a waste into a valuable material for reuse

Yeah, like fuel in a molten salt reactor.

OCCUPY CARSON CITY has testified before the Nevada State Commission on High Level Nuclear Waste. What Nevada should do is turn Yucca Mountain into a testing facility for the development of LFTR technologies. Once developed, miniaturize it and mass produce it in factories. Ship the to each of the existing nuclear plants and consume the waste on site. Transportation issues are nullified.

This proposal has been given to the chair of the committee, so we'll see if Nevada acts on it.

http://leg.state.nv.us/Interim/76th2011/Committee/StatCom/HLRW/Other/ResponsestotheSOR.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor

Re:From the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210469)

"must be stored in isolation for tens of thousands of years"

I find this to be extremely silly and wrong

It does not need to be stored for tens of thousands of years

It needs to be stored until technological and political change turn it from a waste into a valuable material for reuse

This.

Nuclear waste is a political euphemism for unburned fuel. The current batch of nuclear reactors can only use up less than 1% of the fuel before the solid fuel rods need to be removed, transuranic and all. You could argue that the companies that manufacture the fuel rods should also be responsible for coming up a safe and economic way to deal with the 'waste'. Their razor-blades economic model for selling the plant to utilities at cost and selling fuel rods for the lifetime of the plant would have to be revisited.

If we had spent that 15 billion on furthering Alvin Weinberg's research into liquid fueled reactors, I think we'd have a very different political and economic reality today.

Re:From the article.. (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year ago | (#42210535)

Oh you mean nuclear reprocessing [wikipedia.org]? On an economics basis it's dead in the water if the 2004 Japanese report about costs compared with storage. Realistically I think what needs to happen going forward are the usage of breeder reactors [wikipedia.org] which are two orders of magnitude more efficient than LWRs. They're more expensive to build (about 25%) but if you're playing the long game they're the obvious winner given present nuclear technologies.

Re:From the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210827)

"must be stored in isolation for tens of thousands of years" I find this to be extremely silly and wrong It does not need to be stored for tens of thousands of years It needs to be stored until technological and political change turn it from a waste into a valuable material for reuse

Then you agree, Yucca Mountain was a bad idea.

Obama's administration's fault? (2)

kwerle (39371) | about a year ago | (#42209929)

Yucca mountain may or may not be a great/terrible solution. Argue amongst yourselves.

Here are the facts:
* Billions spent
* About 14 years late for initial use (scheduled for 1998)
* No sign that it was ever going to get used

I believe we need a solution. But I can't get to mad about scrapping a multi-billion dollar project that looks doomed to failure.

Refunds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42209953)

It's interesting that Nevada was quite happy to accept the money, the jobs, the opportunities provided from building the repository. Once it came to actually USING it, there was shock and dismay all around. If they don't want it there after all, I would think it would be only equitable to ask for a refund of the funds spent.

Presidential rule by fiat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210031)

Just another example of how this president assumes and everyone seems to agree that he can do as he wishes without worrying about the rest of the government.

Have a good look at the Executive orders he's written in order to accomplish what he's wanted without getting things approved by the other branches of the government.

Re:Presidential rule by fiat (2)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#42210095)

This has been the case since at least Reagan. At least he's the first one to do it overtly and every president since had been leaning his way politically. There is no left party in the US, only the right and the extreme right. You have bad choices, don't choose.

Re:Presidential rule by fiat (2)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42210211)

"right"
At least in America, that word doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. Here the people on the "right" are usually the one's calling for limits on government power. And neither party has been very good about that. The Republicans talk a good game about limited government but don't seem to mean it while Democrats laugh at the idea of limited government (Nancy Pelosi literally laughed at it when someone asked her about the Constitutionality of the health care law). We have two parties on the left, none on the right.

Re:Presidential rule by fiat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210381)

(Nancy Pelosi literally laughed at it when someone asked her about the Constitutionality of the health care law).

She laughed because the idea that is was unconstitutional is laughable. You may not like the way the supreme court has ruled on the health care law, but it is consistant with half a dozen other supreme court rulings over the last century. She understood the constitution, and laughed at your silly misunderstanding of it. That's not because she is arrogant. It is because the idea that the law is unconstitutional is so wrong it deserves laughter.

Re:Presidential rule by fiat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210511)

That's why we invented the 2D grid so we can show that both parties are on the far top "Authoritarian".

If the Republicans could just let go of their desire to run everyone's life, they could become conservative again.

Instead, we'll get to hear another round of how gays caused the economic meltdown.

Re:Presidential rule by fiat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210881)

A democratic republic is slightly left of center. While the Republican party is right relative to the Democratic party, it is still left of center.

I call shenanigans (5, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#42210071)

Obama isn't to blame for this. The OP ignores the fact that the Yucca project has been in trouble long before Obama was on the political landscape. Use of it was initially blocked before anyone even knew who Obama was. Penn and Teller did an episode of Bullshit! called "Nukes, Hybrids and Lesbians" which called out all years of different tactics that were blocking the use of the site for its intended purpose. That episode aired in 2007, one year before Obama was even elected into office. Penn and Teller pointed to all kinds of NIMBY groups and the complaints they put forth over the years...like the fact that nobody had tested to see how well the site would do in a flood. (Mind you, it's a mountain...in the middle of a desert.) Did it become official on Obama's watch? Sure. But the funeral isn't where the murder took place. Yucca was dead long before now.

Re:I call shenanigans (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210333)

This article was written by the same kind of neoconservative that Penn and Teller represent. Teller is a fellow at The Cato Institute. The author of this article writes for The Weekly Standard. Both of these are very far right organizations and the article, like Bullshit! is overflowing with anti-government bias.

Re:I call shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210883)

It was actually George Bush that killed it. Learn your facts.

This rubble... (0, Flamebait)

dalias (1978986) | about a year ago | (#42210183)

This rubble belongs on Fox News, not "news for nerds".

[expletive deleted] you! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210377)

My first ten years as a working professional engineer was as a plant staff, NOT CONTRACTOR, Engineer at a two unit commercial nuclear plant. IF you are unwilling to learn about and understand the implications of the body politic on something as important as energy policy, you do not deserve to be included with those of us truly in the nerd status.
[AND yes, I stay anonymous for a damn good reason, I AM still employed in the energy industry.]

One more (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42210203)

The fear of nuclear energy is another case of how the left become anti science crowd.

JAM

Re:One more (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about a year ago | (#42210507)

running a nuclear power plant and having a place to stick the remains that get pulled out of there, for thousands of years is like a Mad Magazine style of idea.
Fighting against that is far from anti-science, it's more like "WTF are you thinking?!". Nuclear power plants are not being fought against, it's the slug that comes out of it being put into barrel and put into a government-run facility that needs to be maintained and/or quarantined for the entire decomposition cycle.

can anyone explain why (0)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#42210403)

this site should exist in the first place? the nuclear chemistry behind reprocessing is viable and has been utilized for decades to convert spent fuel into reusable nuclear fuel. this just sounds like a lobby of large energy companies got together and concluded it was easier to bury the waste and forget about it than it was to handle it like responsible corporate citizens and ensure we arent wasting a finite resource.

What's wrong with that? (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#42210519)

energy infrastructure is uniquely subject to the control of the executive branch, and so to the influence of presidential politics

Nobody wants nuclear waste. (3, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#42210683)

The real problem is that nobody wants nuclear waste because it is... well, radioactive, duh!
This is the core problem with nuclear (fission) energy. There is no way to deal with the radioactive waste. Nobody wants it anywhere. Nobody wants the risk of disease. Everybody is a nuclear NIMBY.
Much better to look at other sources of energy which don't have this waste problem which is qualitatively much different than any other industrial process.

Comment from a now retired high DOE official (1)

InterGuru (50986) | about a year ago | (#42210847)

Yup.
I followed this closely. To get re-elected, Reid needed it killed. And Obama needed Reid. And it never came up during the election.

By the way, the cost quoted is only the cost of the project. In addition, the USG is on the hook for another 12 B because DOE signed contracts to start taking fuel in 1998. The utilities are suing to recover their costs since 1998. Worst, this last cost does not come from the Waste Fund. It comes from general revenues.

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