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New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the can-I-leave-this-here? dept.

Government 191

mdsolar writes in with news about a NRC rule on how long nuclear waste can be stored on-site after a reactor has shut down. The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses. The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country. In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule. "The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined that spent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely.

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central storage or n^x security guard costs / site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47770391)

Which is the bargain and which is the stupid, shortsighted compromise?

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47770471)

Which is the bargain and which is the stupid, shortsighted compromise?

The compromise is the bargain, and it isn't stupid or shortsighted. A central repository would be extremely expensive. Billions were spent on Yucca Mountain, just on analysis and legal fees. On-site storage is "good enough" for now, and nukes will require security guards regardless. We can build the centralized storage facility in a few decades when our understanding of geology, robotics, engineering, etc. will have progressed. Or even more likely, by then we will have figured out economic uses for many of the waste components, and the "waste" will no longer need to be disposed of.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2)

Livius (318358) | about a month ago | (#47770559)

Or even more likely, by then we will have figured out economic uses for many of the waste components, and the "waste" will no longer need to be disposed of.

Bear in mind that we have the waste storage and disposal problem we have now because everyone made that same assumption back in the 1940s and '50s.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about a month ago | (#47770579)

Or rather because anything nuclear in the US has been blocked for several decades.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a month ago | (#47770611)

That stopped being true in 2012.

Thanks, Obama.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47770729)

It's about damned time we started building new nukes

Unless of course you are invested to the hilt in fossil fuels and decide to use your cash on hand to buy political influence to stop them, like the koch bros

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2, Insightful)

crioca (1394491) | about a month ago | (#47771027)

It's about damned time we started building new nukes

I've been a proponent of nuclear power for years, but given how fast the cost of solar power has been falling, I think the time for investing heavily in nuclear power has passed.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771049)

Because the Sun shines 24/7...somewhere.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2)

Phil Karn (14620) | about a month ago | (#47771485)

Even with cheap solar and wind we will still need nuclear, at least until somebody perfects a cheap, reliable and long-lived utility scale battery. Otherwise we'll never be able to retire all the CO2-belching fossil-fuel plants to match the varying supply with the varying demand.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47772569)

That seems to be a mistaken view. Not much storage is needed. http://www.engineering.com/Ele... [engineering.com]

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47773011)

at least until somebody perfects a cheap, reliable and long-lived utility scale battery.

Like sodium sulphur batteries? Japan has been using 50MWh utility scale sodium sulphur batteries for a few years to smooth the output of wind farms. They are cheap and pretty safe, and easy to recycle.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a month ago | (#47773097)

there are so many energy storage mechanisms under study and developement it's not even funny.
hydro-pumping, compressed air, etc.

Plus it's not really a given that storage will even be needed. A well designed smart grid could adapt to load and switch capacity in and out.
A truly global smart grid, the ultimate goal, wouldn't even see any variance as the variance would be so small in comparison to the overall capacity.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about a month ago | (#47773881)

> Even with cheap solar and wind we will still need nuclear, at least until somebody perfects a cheap,
> reliable and long-lived utility scale battery.

Or you do what everyone is actually doing, and using gas peakers in those periods.

And we already have most of what we need in that department for the "opposite reason", that most nukes don't power cycle for peak following.

It makes no difference to me if you have 50% of your load coming from NG turbines to make up for daytime peak that the nukes can't supply, or nighttime baseload that the PV can't supply.

It does make a difference to people who oppose renewables though. They say that building out renewables requires backup, and that you need to factor the price of the backup into the renewable. However, they fail to note that the exact same argument is true for nukes, or even coal plants for that matter, yet they never mention that fact. Imagine that.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47772367)

Obama appointed Gregory Jaczko [atomicinsights.com] as the chairman of the NRC in 2009, and Ernest Moniz [atomicinsights.com] as the Secretary of Energy in 2013. Jackzo bypassed his four fellow commissioners and released highly irresponsible and inaccurate statements sowing unfounded fears during the Fukushima incident, and has since come out as strongly anti-nuclear. Moniz is unduly conservative about the value of nuclear energy and both are strong advocates of natural gas. Moniz also hired Kevin Knobloch, the head of a prominent anti-nuclear organization (UCS) as his Chief of Staff.

Obama may pay it lip service, but does not support nuclear in any meaningful way.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a month ago | (#47772427)

Ronald Reagan's NRC appointees approved zero new reactors. George HW Bush's NRC approved zero. Clinton's NRC approved zero. George W Bush's NRC approved zero new nuclear reactors.

Obama's NRC has approved 4 new reactors. They can't be all that anti-nuclear.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/first-new-nuclear-reactor-in-us-since-1978-approved/

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47770799)

Nope, just anything "commercial" as the military programs have been doing fine.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

mellon (7048) | about a month ago | (#47771381)

Actually, the worst nuclear waste sites are all military. Well, not counting Chernobyl and Fukushima, of course.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47772959)

Yeah, Hanford is definitely "fine." It's certainly not one minor earthquake away from filling the Columbia River basin with radioactive sludge.

Idiot.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47772477)

The US isn't the only country with nuclear power. Some like China and India have been pushing it hard and investing vast amounts of money in developing it, yet have still failed to deal with this problem.

Also, nit-picking perhaps but "several decades" implies nuclear was being blocked back in the 50s, which clearly it wasn't.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47772579)

Nuclear power over promises and under delivers so it mostly trips itself up. http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

markass530 (870112) | about a month ago | (#47773105)

Chris Dudley (Solar power reseller for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative) over promises and under delivers, so he mostly trips himself up

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about a month ago | (#47773785)

Outside of the US the fast reactors keep leaking and fuel can only be reworked once for only a fractional reduction in waste. Ignoring pie in the sky reactors significant volumes of nuclear waste are still a necessary by-product of nuclear power.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

jgotts (2785) | about a month ago | (#47770679)

I'm not so worried about low-level nuclear waste, but high-level nuclear waste is deadly for many multiples of human recorded history into the future. If humans have only had writing for 6,000 years or so how are we supposed to convey information about this waste to people 100,000 or 1,000,000 years into the future? Latin letters have lasted for 2,000 years but modern English is only a few hundred years old. Most people on Earth use a written language that is only a few hundred years old at best. There are undeciphered languages. Modern languages explaining nuclear waste could become undecipherable, particularly if civilization experiences a sharp decline for example due to a meteor strike.

We assume that humans will continue to experience technological progress and have no set backs whereas in the past 6,000 years many civilizations have risen to lead the entire world and then fallen into chaos. We're still rediscovering technology the ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with. How do we protect thousands of facilities across the globe from poisoning future generations? The answer is, we probably won't be able to do it.

Nuclear is the dirtiest (deadliest) energy possible, and is in no way a clean energy source. Thinking that we can find the equivalent of a smoke detector use (Americium) for high-level waste is very wishful thinking in my mind.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (2, Informative)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47770867)

There is a workable solution - burn down the actinide contents so that after a few hundred years, it's below the activity levels of the original ore. No sensible nuclear engineer thinks sequestering it for hundreds of thousands of years is a good idea.

Thinking that we can find the equivalent of a smoke detector use (Americium) for high-level waste is very wishful thinking in my mind.

Not does it not require any wishful thinking, the physics and technology of it is pretty straightforward and well understood. 94% of typical once-through spent fuel is still uranium and a further 1% is higher actinides, all of which can be fissioned in the appropriate types of reactors to generate more energy and shorten its half life by at around 3 orders of magnitude. It's the policy decisions that are in the way.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (3, Informative)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771219)

Both of you need to read the Wikipedia page about nuclear fuels, as it says something surprising: there is a window in half lives, that is the half lives are either less than ten years, or more than a couple hundred years, or something along those lines. So the decay profile of half lives is not continuous, you have some very hot and dangerous stuff, but that also blows out its punch relatively fast, and relatively mild and less dangerous stuff, but that takes a couple hundred thousand years to go away. (As in, you might almost be willing live next to it, but you don't want to ingest it for sure. There are things like cinnabar minerals in nature, that you don't want to ingest, or arsenic minerals, also toxic mushrooms, but might be willing to coexist with, and live next to them.) So these days the protocol is to hold spent nuclear fuel on site for the less than ten years part, and then when that's gone, all you got is the very low radiating but extremely long half life stuff left, which is kinda safe to ship around by rail and store. But indeed, the stuff fresh out of the reactor is deadly, and needs to be aged on site to give out its punch first. If you read up on the Fukushima disaster on Wikipedia, you'll see mention of such aging ponds.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

fnj (64210) | about a month ago | (#47771287)

you might almost be willing live next to it, but you don't want to ingest it for sure

I grew up playing in the back yard near a bed of Lilies of the Valley. Every part of those flowers is highly toxic. I don't remember ever being warned about eating them, but I must have got inculcated with the idea that it is super dumb to eat random things growing in nature. I never touched them, and neither did any of the neighborhood kids.

I mean touch as in ingest. We did pick bouquets of them and put them in glasses of water in the house.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771557)

There is a youtube channel i watch called We eat the weeds. I'm like yeah right, but if you think of it, somewhere down the road all veggies started out with we eat the weeds, and learn. Even lillies, you could ingest 1 flower, and wait and see, then ingest 5 flowers, and wait and see, etc. In fact those toxins might be helpful as medicine when you're sick with an infection for instance, at the proper dose. That's how rats treat everything they eat, as they are scavangers and a lot of things are rotten and toxic from the bacteria, fungi and yeasts on them, so they take a bite, then come back later to eat it if they don't get sick. Which is why rat poison has to be tricky. Presently they have vitamin K antagonists, that create no pain, but prevent blood clotting, so if a vessel ruptures in their brain or muscles, they get anyeurism, or if they get hurt and start bleeding, they bleed to death, but they eat it no problem because they don't sense feeling bad from taking a bite. And unless they do bleed in someway, like an external scrape or internal blood vessel rupture, they survive it OK. Sometimes when they try to make me work hard physically I think of rat poison and blood vessel rupture, and try to moderate the level of exertion. I also refuse to get a flat stomach and muscles there, because that's a great way to get a hernia. When it's all soft and muscle-less, there is nothing that really puts a great force on your intestines to exit your abdominal cavity. And hernia operations are expensive, and I refuse to buy health insurance on matters of conscience and principle.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47771611)

Even lillies, you could ingest 1 flower, and wait and see, then ingest 5 flowers, and wait and see, etc.

Even easier, just break open a stem. If the sap is milky, it is likely to be poisonous, and even more likely to taste very bitter. If the sap is clear, it may not be digestible, but it is not likely to be poisonous.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47771765)

I also refuse to get a flat stomach and muscles there, because that's a great way to get a hernia.

lol yes that's why your belly is big.

And hernia operations are expensive, and I refuse to buy health insurance on matters of conscience and principle.

lol ur trolling us.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (4, Informative)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47771329)

I'm quite aware of how radiotoxicity of spent nuclear fuel works. There are in fact graphs [wordpress.com] detailing it. Fast reactors and actinide burners prevent the actinides from entering the waste stream in the first place, hence why their waste is below original uranium ore radiotoxicity levels after a few hundred years. After that, you can essentially throw the stuff back into the pit you got it out of, knowing that you've actually lowered the overall radiotoxicity of the original material. For current LWRs on a once-through cycle this doesn't occur until some hundreds of thousands of years in the future.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771041)

Nuclear is the dirtiest (deadliest) energy possible, and is in no way a clean energy source.

And yet burning coal still produces more nuclear waste. If it's the kind of nuclear waste that matters, then why not put it back into a reactor and encourage it to degrade into something more stable?

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771071)

And now we heard from the High Schoolers who never heard of Breeder Reactors except in the context of Carter banning then because of proliferation risks.

We have the technology to do many things safely. We also have whining, sniveling, lying environmentalists who will do anything, up to and including physical sabotage to prevent nuclear power from going forward. What we don't have is politicians who will tell said enviowhackos to fuck off and die.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47772065)

We have a fossil fuel power generation industry that is deeply invested and wants to get full value out before abandoning it to a 'better' competitor

whiny environmentalists are just one of their tools

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47772587)

Coal produces zero nuclear waste.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773013)

No, it just produces massive chemical toxicity that never breaks down. Arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, carbon pollution, airborne particulates, and tens of thousands of dead people per year from respiratory disease. Oh, and whole mountains being blown up in order to find the gigatons of coal necessary to keep the furnaces running.

At least with nuclear, the waste is a problem that eventually takes care of itself. I know you're a solar power shill, but I think we can all agree that COAL IS BAD, AND SHOULD BE REPLACED BY ANYTHING ELSE.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773365)

Stop burning coal today and aside from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the ecosystem will have forgotten the effects. That is not the case with Chernobyl or Fukushima or the nuclear waste releases the NRC is promoting with this new rule.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

markass530 (870112) | about a month ago | (#47773313)

It's also gluten free, but wtf does that have to do with the price of breast milk in cambodia?

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773453)

Nuke nuts are blinded by their strange love for nuclear power so they end up saying a lot of ridiculous things. That was one of them.

Th mixed oxide (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about a month ago | (#47771275)

Thorium mixed oxide fuel from lightly processed waste with say 10% Th would overcome the central storage problem. Already a bench/pilot scale technology in Europe.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a month ago | (#47772295)

if they can't read our ancient languages or have lost the records what are the chances of them digging far enough safely...

oh wait you're not storing them safely underground.. not that it matters since if you're still running an active power plant at the location you're going to need security anyways.

for finnish aspect, maybe check this out
http://www.intoeternitythemovi... [intoeternitythemovie.com]

furthermore, if they have "lost" all civilization(capable of detecting the threat) then it's going to be a quite localized threat, like asbestos landfills and what have you... since if they have lost all that they're not going to be moving on about long distances.

also a rant about descending into chaos in the past 6000 years - GLOBALLY there has not been any descent into such chaos, it's all been unifying and forward going progress and the more there has been trade and communications the faster and more the advancement has been.

we have quite well known already for quite some time how the romans technology worked, how the greeks did their thing and of the things we don't know exactly we know several explanations how to have done those. we know better how they built the pyramids than the fucking romans knew and todays chinese know how the romans built their aquaducts...

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47772999)

The low-level stuff you're not worried about is the long half-life stuff that you are worrying about.

Anything so radioactive as to kill you is decayed and gone within tens of years. Thus, the previous policy when Yucca Mountain was still on the table.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771039)

"and nukes will require security guards regardless." Yeah, but... are you seriously not getting the advantage of centralizing the security concern?

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771053)

If they spent billions on the analysis and legal fees thats because they were retards. There is a lot of military folk coming back who need a job, security guard type, without a home they can travel around the country. It's best to pick up all this garbage, and ship it to the Yucca mountains. Or better yet, to an undisclosed facility that is not fanfared all over the world. They needs jobs, and the cost of shipping by rail defended by military is not that great. Then when they have the technology to rework this crap and use it as useful fuel, then ship it back. The problem of storing it all in one spot at the Yucca mountain, is that you need lots of small chambers with thick absorbing walls separating the tiny batches, one of the rules of nuclear materials is you can't just pile it all into one big pile. For instance, Feynman fought during the Manhattan project with officials to be able to disclose what's going on, what material they are making, because otherwise he could not sell the idea to engineers and plant managers of a plant to scatter a skid each of the nuclear material all over the place in the plant, as opposed to in one neat stack of all the skids on top of each other in one place. That would violate the principles of critical mass, and may result in a meltdown. So I hope whoever spent those gazillions on Yucca mountain research, keeps such simple things in mind - you have to create an underground network of catacombs with many small chambers, with thick walls between them. Digging through raw rock is a bitch, but blasting makes it easy like child's play, because it's really brittle: drill a hole, fill with explosive, blast, shovel up the rubble, repeat. Explosives make it a piece of cake tunneling through a solid block of rock.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771093)

And you don't need robots with the nuclear waste we presently have. Regular people on a proper schedule are able to work with nuclear radiation, and absorb it into their body. As in 10 minutes inside the plant, 2 hr break in the break room to recuperate, 10 minutes work again. 2 hr break again. It's cheaper and more robust than robots, though it would be nice if they invented remote control robots that can do maintenance work like taking apart pipes and unscrewing bolts and hammering lids shut on a drum, at which robots are very clumsy presently. But the real need for robots in the nuclear field is around the coolant agent in fast neutron reactors, which is liquid sodium - or NaK, and alloy of sodium and potassium metal that freezes near where mercury freezes and stays liquid at room temperatures - because operators hate getting sprayed by that shit. Robots with hafnium free zirconium limbs can take a beating and swim around in liquid NaK just fine. Well they do corrode, but not instantly, especially if the thing is cold. But the nuclear waste they are talking about has nothing to do with liquid sodium, it's away from the reactor.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771139)

When they finally figure out how to run fast neutron reactors cooled with liquid sodium, and how to properly do reprocessing, we won't have any nuclear waste, because it will be precious fuel. However, presently, all major suppliers of nuclear energy only do moderated neutron reactors, that only burn the less than 1% U235 instead of the 100% U235+238, or even Thorium, because they hate liquid sodium, and they throw they hands in the aya saying we give up, we can't deal with liquid sodium, it costs too much, and when the fuel is so cheap, pressurized water reactors are easier, your real cost is security and proper operation and safety, not the fuel, and the 99% waste that comes by from only burning the less than 1% U235 is still extremely cheap to dispose of and deal with, compared to having to run a fast neutron reactor that gives you 100x power per lb of fuel, but it's a bitch to run, because of the way liquid sodium likes to corrode other metals, or glass, or anything. Maybe not graphite or diamond, but you can't make heat exchangers out of a solid block of diamond because nobody has such a piece of diamond for your sculptors to sculpt from, and graphite is really weak and brittle, it falls apart like a pencil lead, so that's not a complete answer either.

Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771177)

They could look into the high carbide and boride surface coating things that might be more graphite-like, or there has got to be stuff resistant to sodium. At room temperature paraffin hydrocarbons are used to store sodium, unfortunately above 600C all hydrocarbons, including the stablest of stable ones, benzene and naphtalene and anthracene, dehydrogenate into char, which is graphitic. So organic substances and hydrocarbons are not the answer, because fast neutron reactors do like to run at high temperature, because of the benefits high temperatures bring about in heat engine Carnot cycle efficiency numbers - that is, the higher the temperature, the less heat goes through that massive nuclear cooling tower stack into the environment, and the more into the power grid as electricity. Presently the ratio of energies is probably 90% going into that cloud plume you see rising from a nuclear plant, and 10% going into the electric grid, and with fast neutron high temperature but corrosive reactors, the ratio might go to something like 70% waste vs. 30% usable electric, besides the near 100% consumption of the fuel, instead of 1% consumption and 99% waste, as "depleted uranium" makes a pretty good fuel for fast neutron reactors, and we have so much of that shit around these days, that the military uses it for high density kinetic penetrator bullets, as the density of uranium metal is near that of gold, 19 g/mL, and if depleted, it's nonradiating and nontoxic.

Ridiculous (2, Insightful)

Phil Karn (14620) | about a month ago | (#47770427)

I agree that waste in casks at nuclear power plants is reasonably safe but it would still be better to move it to Yucca Mountain. If nothing else, security would be a lot cheaper. It's utterly ridiculous that all that money was spent on a waste repository that, thanks to NIMBYism on the part of Nevada politicians, doesn't look like it'll be used any time soon. At least nuclear waste is the one form of toxic waste that will eventually go away on its own. Arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium and other chemical poisons remain toxic forever.

Re:Ridiculous (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about a month ago | (#47770601)

Let's blame the people responsible- Nevada voters. The politicians are just representing their constituents. I supported the Yucca Mountain project before I moved to Nevada and I would be an asshole to change my opinion afterward.

The proposed site is over 100 miles from Vegas in the absolute middle of nowhere. Even if they stored the waste in a big open pit above ground, it still wouldn't affect anyone.

But people here are terrified about transporting the waste along the rail lines through town. There is a freight train that goes literally 100 feet from my office every day with tanker cars full of ammonia and sodium hydroxide. Nobody bats an eye.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47770883)

Let's blame the people responsible- Nevada voters. The politicians are just representing their constituents.

... and one of those politicians is Harry Reid [wikipedia.org] , the most powerful man in the Senate. But after the election on November 4th, he likely won't be the majority leader anymore.

Re:Ridiculous (1, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a month ago | (#47770915)

Reid singlehandedly tried to undermine the NRC from the top by appointing (via BO) Jaszko as NRC chair. Putting an incompetent political appointee in charge of an agency as important as the NRC is its own form of willful negligence. Thankfully he was driven out when it became clear he was not fit to hold such a position.

Jaszko (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771663)

Did the right thing to pull the plug on Yucca. Fabrication of data pretty much made proceeding impossible. He was handing out license extensions like candy and won't be missed on that account, but I think he would not have pulled this bozo move. Indefinite above ground storage in flood plains? What can they be thinking?

Re:Jaszko (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a month ago | (#47773043)

They're thinking that this Congress can't even get with the decades old plan that was already in motion, and can't do anything besides name post offices and bicker about how the other party is the problem.

The clock is winding down on this Congress, they're hoping the next one might actually get their shit together. It's stupendously unlikely, but they're gonna hope anyway.

Re:Ridiculous (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47772943)

Even if they stored the waste in a big open pit above ground, it still wouldn't affect anyone.

We actually tried that in the UK, at places like Sellafield, and it didn't work out very well. Stuff started to grow in the ponds, rain water mixed in, birds picked it up and flew off with it, it evaporated into rainwater...

Re:Ridiculous (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a month ago | (#47773031)

That's because sodium hydroxide and ammonia don't use the scary word "nuclear".

Never mind that nuclear waste has been shipped around all over the place for decades - does anyone think the US Navy just lets that shit sit on the dock after it's removed from aircraft carriers and submarines?

Joe Biden for 2016 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773121)

Joe Biden is a square shooter. Joe Biden for 2016!

Re:Ridiculous (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a month ago | (#47770963)

I agree that waste in casks at nuclear power plants is reasonably safe but it would still be better to move it to Yucca Mountain. If nothing else, security would be a lot cheaper. It's utterly ridiculous that all that money was spent on a waste repository that, thanks to NIMBYism on the part of Nevada politicians, doesn't look like it'll be used any time soon. At least nuclear waste is the one form of toxic waste that will eventually go away on its own. Arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium and other chemical poisons remain toxic forever.

Yucca mountain is not a suitable site because it is made of pumice and geologically active evidenced by recent aftershocks of 5.6 within ten miles of a repository that is supposed to be geologically stable for at least 500000 years. The DOE's own 1982 Nuclear Waste policy Act reported that Yucca Mountain's geology is inappropriate to contain nuclear waste, and long term corrosion data on C22 (the material to contain the Pu-239 and mitigate the ingress of water revealed by Studies of the Yucca mountain hydrology [sciencedirect.com] ) is just not available.

We need something made of granite. The only human made structures we've seen that last 10000 years resembles the pyramids, and it is an engineering project of that scale, because the logistical problems of transferring the 70000 odd tons of Pu239 to the spent fuel containment facility are so involved that you want to get it right the first time and only do it once. The design of the Swedish facility [geoprac.net] shows how a reactor facility that complies with the industry designed improvements could be implemented.

IIRC, NIMBYism is how the project ended up in Nevada in the first place because one Nevada politician did not show for the vote and that was enough to place the facility at Yucca. This is not the way to place a spent fuel containment facility. A location evaluated by science and engineering practices is.

Re:Ridiculous (4, Insightful)

Phil Karn (14620) | about a month ago | (#47771537)

Not far from Yucca Mountain you will find hundreds if not thousands of craters under which are buried the fission and activation products of decades of US nuclear testing. They're not reprocessed and contained in silica glass, they were simply mixed (quite violently) with the soil and rock. And yet they don't seem to go anywhere. There is no need for Yucca Mountain to contain reactor waste for even a hundred years because it will surely be removed and burned as fuel in fast reactors. Once people wake up to the fact that global warming is a vastly greater threat than nuclear power, and that nuclear power is just as essential as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro in combating it, people will realize that "spent" fuel from light water reactors is far too valuable to just throw away.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

MrKaos (858439) | about a month ago | (#47772541)

Not far from Yucca Mountain..

Totally irrelevant.

Once people wake up to the fact that global warming is a vastly greater threat than nuclear power, and that nuclear power is just as essential as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro in combating it, people will realize that "spent" fuel from light water reactors is far too valuable to just throw away.

I don't think you posses all of the facts, no one is proposing to throw the fuel away.

For the Nuclear industry to have any viability it has to *start* with sound containment facilities and infrastructure to support and regulate the distribution of fuel. Fukushima showed exactly why on-site fuel storage is so dangerous. The fuel may be valuable but the reactor technology only extracts .3%, yes one third of one percent of the fuel's energetic potential over it's trivial 30-60 year life span.

Fast neutron reactors are notoriously more difficult to control than PWR and much more toxic. I certainly support the development of reactor technology however materials technology doesn't exist to support viable fission power plants. The only thing the Nuclear industry can do is resolve the infrastructure issues but there isn't a single politician who will support the billions of dollars that has to be spent over a minimum of 3 decades. This is the beginning of end of the nuclear industry, if you want to blame someone blame the nuclear fanbois who never lobbied for the required infrastructure to sustain the industry because their dogmatic skepticism pooh poohed anyone who didn't just believe it was safe, that these things are all unnecessary.

You seem to think that the facility would only contain spent fuel however, there are oodles of radioisotopes from weapons production that also needs storage. This is an admission by the NRC that this problem clearly belongs in the "Too Hard" basket.

From an INSIDER! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47770439)

I have seen the problems first-hand.

There's talk that the city of Munich, Germany-a bastion of open-souce idealism-will give up hope and move from its LiMux-brand of Linux to Microsoft Windows. Everyone is trying to understand this with a lot of online complaining.

I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can't accomplish any of this with Linux.

Yes, I can kind of "get by" but that's about it. There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It's not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what's the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don't I?

It's like vegetarians who crave meat and eat meat-"flavored" tofu burgers instead. Again, what's the point?

I want native applications on Linux. While there are thousands of functional applications that run great they do not cut it in the end.

For example, I tried with the help of Linux experts to get a podcasting rig to run a simple digital-to-analog converter and pre-amp over Skype. Forget it. Nothing worked right. Linux did not like the gear and Skype on Linux stinks.

I also noticed a curious phenomenon within the Linux expert community of making suggestions that don't work. When called out for the fail, the expert would always say, "Well, I never tried it, I just heard that it worked." This commonality is deadly and seems universal.

Then we have Photoshop, Illustrator, and the entire Adobe universe. None of it runs on Linux natively and people "have heard" that it runs okay on WINE. This is no good. Then GIMP enters the conversation. Yes, as a Photoshop clone it's actually pretty good. But the name says it all: hobbled.

Now we move on to the Office Suite from Microsoft. There are many good competitors in this space, many free. They all seem perfect for the small office or even a city government, like in Munich. The word processors, in particular, are very much like the reliable versions of MS-Word-you know, before the appearance of the "ribbon" interface.

People in the Windows world can find these suites on Windows, too, namely Libre Office and Apache OpenOffice. Both are fully functional office suites.

Microsoft does not like these things and performed format changes, such as adding the .docx format. That was a setback for the clones because .docx became the default "save as" format for Word and too many users could not figure out how to save any other way; docx became a fly in the ointment for clone suite users. I always told people it was rude to use .docx, because it is. Not every computer user in the world can read this format.

Ironically, Microsoft didn't need to change anything. Word is just better. Excel is better. PowerPoint is better. It's that simple.

When I tried to get my own family to use the alternative Office Suites, they rejected every option. My wife, for example, likes the Windows way of tracking and saving all changes in a document, and the ability to reclaim old text. Why anyone wants to keep what I consider junk is beyond me.

Nobody was going for it. And I admit that while I do not care about tracking changes, I do like the grammar checker on Word. It needs improvement, but it does a good superficial sweep and catches little errors. This is particularly handy for professional writers, many of whom are sloppy and expect the waning army of editors to fix things. I also think the Microsoft spell checker is better than the alternatives.

Unter gleeben glauben globen. If I want a word processor to create e-books, for example, or to organize large texts I use Scrivener. Does Scrivener run on Linux? Maybe someday. I still do the original writing in Word, then run it to Scrivener for organizing and compiling. Linux is not part of the scheme.

Now there may be something that shows up on Linux that everyone will have to have and we'll all have to buy a Linux box or dual boot because of it. Visi-Calc sold a lot of Apple II computers in its day-1979-because it alone ran Visi-Calc. That was then, this is now.

Time has run out for there to be a must-have killer software package on Linux. Anyone writing such an application writes it for Mac or Windows, because that's where the customers are. All the super applications for Linux are on the server side and that ends the discussion. Yes, this could change someday. But that someday is not on the horizon.

Right now Linux on the desktop remains a cheap curiosity, that is kind of fun to play with when you are bored, or nerdly.

What else can they do? (4, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47770587)

Yucca mountain is a no go for political reasons, not scientific ones, so what else can we do?

The really sad thing is that there still is a lot of useable fuel in all that if we here allowed to reprocess it. Not to mention that reprocessing would greatly reduce the size of the high level waste. Carter really messed up with that decision...

So, for now, it's store in place and guard the stuff. But this is only really a problem until it cools enough to not require being under water anymore. After that guarding it isn't that hard or expensive. It can be packaged in such a way that getting into it would take hours and industrial equipment. Guarding it just means walking by every day or so and making sure nobody is messing with the containers.

Re:What else can they do? (2)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47770743)

Carter's ban was reversed a few years later. The true problem is the lack of a national policy on the way forward with this. The original nuclear pioneers envisioned us burning up the spent fuel in fast reactors. That was pretty much put on hold indefinitely when 20 years the Clinton administration cut the funding for the project just short of producing the first commercially viable fast reactor power plant designs. This could have been solved problem were it not for the environmentalist policy of stalling any progress on nuclear technology in order not to lose the political bargaining chips that R&D would have eradicated. The only thing they've achieved, though, is that it'll get developed somewhere else. In fact, using the future tense may not be necessary anymore [rt.com] .

Re:What else can they do? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47772441)

It's pretty pathetic that the pro-nuclear crowd have to blame unnamed eco-hippies for all their woes. A bunch of apparently quite dumb, reactionary and fearful people somehow dictate policy for multi billion dollar industry with armies of lawyers and wads of cash to throw at lobbying.

The simple reality is that all this wonderful new technology just isn't economically viable. The cost of development and the risk that after spending tens of billions it won't work or make any money is just too high. There are too many unknowns and uncertainties, and a general reluctance to invest in a technology that takes decades to pay off when alternatives are growing so rapidly.

Just look at how hard energy companies are fighting the future to preserve their current revenue streams. Considering how scared they are of what seems inevitable, would you want want to give them money?

Re:What else can they do? (2)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47773335)

I admit I was oversimplifying a bit when I said the environmentalists caused nuclear R&D in this country to get all but killed outright. Of course it's a bit more complicated and you need to follow the money to find out who's really behind the push. Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club [time.com] and campaigns like Solar not nuclear [atomicinsights.com] have often been financed by fossil fuel industries, the reason being that these industries knew damn well that while solar & wind might pose a threat down the line but at present still require fossil fuel backup (thus cementing their position in the grid), nuclear posed an imminent threat should the US go and pull a French on them, kicking them off the grid in one or two decades. Nuclear development projects such as the IFR got caught in political cross fire and for some reason got labeled as being "Republican", so Democratic congresspeople like Kerry led a massive push against it in the early 90s to get it defunded, which they ultimately succeeded in doing in 1994. After the Republicans took office following the Clinton administration, their oil buddies sure as hell didn't want to see the project resurrected, so it was left alone. Ultimately, the IFR project was killed by a lack of political allies, the Democrats being backed by powerful environmental groups (who are often, but not always backed by Big Gas and friends, though they've also got strong grassroots movements) and the Republicans being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry.
Now if you look at counties who are less susceptible to industry lobbying with more centrally planned economies, like China and Russian, they are moving towards nuclear in a big way and are bringing it online both on-time and on-budget.

Re:What else can they do? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47770785)

Carter really messed up with that decision...

We can change that any time. Don't blame Carter. It's being done deliberately. Ask yourself who stands to gain if the status quo is maintained.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47773615)

Carter really messed up with that decision...

We can change that any time. Don't blame Carter. It's being done deliberately. Ask yourself who stands to gain if the status quo is maintained.

Bush was going down that road, but Obama reversed course. The On and Off nature of political support for this makes it impossible to actually do here in the US. The facilities that are used for this are complicated, expensive and take years to build and are dangerous for years after they are shutdown. Until the environmentalists loose control of the left, the democratic position will be "no" on reprocessing.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47773889)

OK, so this is an assertion that the reps are for reprocessing, and the dems against. So is this a deliberately static situation, in which both sides are benefiting from the status quo, or is this a case of the democrats being the ones profiting the most? Because even environmentalists overwhelmingly believe what they're told.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

LessThanObvious (3671949) | about a month ago | (#47770813)

I've heard that breeder reactors are safe and produce a fraction of the waste compared with light water reactors that initially took hold in the industry. The claim has been made in documentaries that embracing breeder reactors could offer a sane alternative. I'm not educated on the subject. I'm curious if anyone can comment on those claims and give any insight into which type the industry is using in modern plants.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771247)

Breeder reactors, aka fast neutron reactors, are not safe from the standpoint of having to use liquid sodium that likes to leak from heat exchangers into the water side and cause a hydrogen explosion, or out into the factory floor unto the operators, who really hate bathing in that shit. Just watch youtube videos of sodium metal or potassium metal reacting with water, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771281)

And none of the other fast neutron coolant alternatives are better - noble gases like helium, or all gases, have issues with localized velocity distribution and meltdown, and shift in the bulk packing, and lead-bismuth eutectic alloy that the Russians are such a great fan of, melts at too high a temperature, where unfreezing stuck or plugged 10 inch lines of bulk lead solder, analogous to a plumbers solder, with an external torch, is just a pain in the ass. Sodium melts very low, (NaK melts below the freezing point of water), and has a low cross section for neutron absorption, meaning they bounce them back and stay unaffected, which is essential for a coolant. Helium, Lead, Bismuth, Sodium, Zirconium, etc, all have low cross section, Boron, Cadmium, Hafnium, etc, are neutron poisons, and get destructed into some other element, like carbon, when absorbing neutrons.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771303)

Graphite also has low cross section, but it has to be boron free, which was the key part of how Szilard and Fermi could build the first nuclear pile in the world in Chicago back in the day, but the Germans, not aware of the boron impurity being a neutron poison, did not succeed. Had they known about it, Hiroshima may not have been the first place in the world to learn about the devastation of nuclear weapons, but it might have been something like London or Glasgow, or St, Petersburg, or Moscow.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47771371)

I hope Dice holdings censors and blocks access to such discussion topics from certain areas of the world. Even if they don't, it's OK though. I mean it's hard to block it from Australia, or even in America there are many foreign nationals and sympathizers. Especially India with rolling blackouts through their electric grid, exploding population levels, and sitting on top of all that Thorium, got to be interested in nuclear technology. But if they hold the cow sacred, and tell you why should I kill the cow, I love the cow, it gives me milk, cheese, I don't want to hurt it, maybe they won't use nuclear weapons on you. But don't bet on it. As they disrespect international treaties and do blasts like smiling Buddha, and some people, who are not very Hindu, and cow loving, like it used to be in the South, but live in the North of Muslim invasion land, they eat rats and mice no problem and are not vegetarian at all. In fact Pakistan and Bangladesh are India, per se, except they were excised from the rest because of the dominating muslim population, and out of those Pakistan also has nukes, but they haven't used it on each other yeat, in disputes like Kashmir, but there have been verbal threats alluding to no weapon is excluded from retaliation if this continues, kinda way, coming from Pakistan. In Bangladesh you have 155 million people stuck in an area of 57 thousand sq miles, while the great state of Texas is 269 thousand square miles, and has 26 million people only, and the whole US is 314 million, and the area is 3,794 thousand square miles. And the people in Bangladesh are not gonna stop fucking, or in the rest of India, and they need lots and lots of electric.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month ago | (#47772571)

That could be solved with a different heat exchange design. For example, one that transfers from metal to a gas loop then to water.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

_merlin (160982) | about a month ago | (#47771625)

The early prototype fast neutron reactors in the UK had issues with handling of the coolants, and are proving very expensive to decommission. Irradiated light metals coating the insides of pipes are difficult to deal with apparently. It's probably nothing that couldn't be solved with additional R&D, but how long before it actually pays off? The UK gave up on it before getting to a viable level.

Yucca (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47770999)

The key problem with Yucca is scientific misconduct with data fabrication that taints the site beyond recall. Once the USGS scientists engaged in that, there is no clear way to understand what else may have been compromised. http://www.senaahq.bravehost.c... [bravehost.com]

Re:Yucca (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47773539)

Still, it would have been better just to bury this stuff in Yucca mountain. Given the situation, it would be safer. Of course, my personal feelings are that we should reprocess this fuel, bury the really bad stuff in Yucca and use the rest. Lather, rinse and repeat until all the fuel is used, or just store reprocessed fuel it until nuclear becomes cost effective again.

Yucca is/was safe, questions about the data not withstanding.

until nuclear becomes cost effective again (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773683)

Nuclear power is on the way out. It just can't get costs down and alternatives are getting cheaper and they will remain cheaper. The money to deal with the waste needs to be stockpiled now while there is still some revenue to tap. Just the opposite is happening however.

Re:What else can they do? (1)

dog77 (1005249) | about a month ago | (#47771311)

Don't forget Bill Clinton and the Democratic controlled congress killed funding for the successful IFR nuclear reactor 3 years before it would have been completed. The IFR uses most of the energy content of Uranium and is orders of magnitude more efficient.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]

From http://www.sustainablenuclear.... [sustainablenuclear.org]
The one-sided fight was on. The President's budget, submitted to Congress, contained no funding for the IFR. There is no funding source to tide over a National Laboratory when funding is cut offthe program is dead and that is that. Democrat majorities in the House of Representatives were nothing new, and in themselves they were not especially alarming to the IFR people. During the previous ten years the votes on IFR funding in the House had always been close, and although a majority of the Democrats always opposed, enough of them were in support that IFR development squeaked through each year. The Senate votes on the IFR, sometimes with Republican majorities, sometimes without, as a rule went easier. But this was a very different year: the Administration had gone from weak support of the IFR program to active opposition.

Re:What else can they do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771547)

Yucca mountain is a no go for more than just political reasons... It is dangerous to truck nuclear waste around the country, or send it on a train. The risk of an accident in a highly populated area is too great to ignore. It was decided that leaving the waste where it is is actually safer than moving it around.

On site transmutation (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771031)

A portable accelerator could transmute the waste at each reactor site. The places are already well connected to the grid so bringing power to transmute the waste to stable isotopes would not be a problem. Just think of nuclear power as something that must be repaid.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47771145)

the amount of energy needed to transmute all the "waste" isotopes in spent fuel rods, while they are still fuel rods, is HUGE. Add to that the fact that as you bombard the spent fuel rods with neutrons to cause the transmutation you will also cause the remaining Uranium and Plutonium to undergo more fission, making more waste to clean up. Better to reprocess the fuel and concentrate the "waste" isotopes for easy transport to a reactor specifically designed to generate the neutrons need to transmute the waste isotope into shorter lived/inert elements. Only 3% of a spent fuel rod is actually waste, the rest is reusable Uranium (96%) and Plutonium (1%).

Re:On site transmutation (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773191)

No, avoid transportation, do it on site. There are a number of possible crowbar approaches. The accelerator driven sub-critical reactor gets the transuranics and laser induced gamma rays may transmute some fission products, but ultimately the sledgehammer approach may be needed. Everything has a large proton cross section at high energy so the radioactive fission products may be disrupted into light elements. In the limit, a high energy proton beam can convert everything to hydrogen, which is not radioactive. Since renewable will be making energy abundant and cheap, getting this done in under sixty years seem feasible.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47771265)

Accelerators produce minuscule amounts of particles, so huge amounts of energy are be needed to produce enough spallation neutrons to fission the spent fuel. It takes about 50 MeV [wikipedia.org] to produce a spallation neutron, assuming almost every neutron eventually produces a fission, it'll still produce >200 MeV per fission. What you're proposing is essentially a deeply subcritical power reactor that just dumps all the power produced over board. Just to give you a sense of scale involved here, to fission down 1 kg of plutonium-239 in spent fuel, you'd need to:
1) separate out the plutonium via some form of reprocessing (presumably PUREX) and fabricate a blanket of it
2) purchase a suitably large spallation target (that'll also get used up in the process)
3) put suitable neutron reflectors & shielding all around the system
4) almost half a million dollars worth of electricity to run the accelerator (assuming $0.07/kWh and the accelerator being ~95% efficient)
5) disposing of 22.34 GWh of waste heat, which at 35% conversion efficiency and $0.07/kWh would be worth just about $100000 more than the electrical cost needed to run the accelerator
6) this system still has all of the decay heat problems that conventional reactors have
What you're proposing is just a nuclear reactor with extremely shitty economics. Yes, you can do tricks like design the thing so that you only need to supply only the last fraction of criticality using the accelerator to cut down on the input power cost, but really the kicker here is that you're back in the power reactor business you wanted to get out of in the first place. Put simply, the only ones that'll want to burn down the actinide component of spent fuel are going to be utilities, and they'll do it for a profit using a system that's a heck of a lot cheaper to run than spending tens to hundreds of thousands of bucks per kg of material.
Now if you think "let's lose the accelerator and all its associated expense and complexity and just use the fuel itself as the neutron source", you will have arrived at the fast nuclear reactor, designed over half a century ago.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771549)

Reactors cause accidents. Accelerators won't. It is expensive because of all the prior improper risk taking.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

brambus (3457531) | about a month ago | (#47773151)

Reactors cause accidents. Accelerators won't.

I don't know which Amory Lovins lie tract you got this information from, but it is quite false, I assure you. Accelerator driven systems are *still* nuclear reactors, just subcritical ones, i.e. the reaction is non-self-sustaining. They still require heavy shielding and containment, they still require fuel fabrication, they still require high-power cooling systems while operating, they still require decay heat removal after shutdown and they still make fission product waste. The only meaningful difference is in how reactivity control is achieved while the reactor is going. If the operate in the fast neutron spectrum, they also have most or all of the drawbacks of fast reactors, such as require large fissile inventories to start up. In fact, if you want to use them to destroy fissile material without producing any new material (i.e. avoid breeding), you'd need to run them on pure weapons-grade fissile material, or accept huge amounts of neutron leakage, meaning you'll be supplying most of the fission neutrons via your accelerator = crazy high cost (the half a million bucks per kg I mentioned before).
Traditional reactors use control rods and the inherent physics of reactor core design to control the reaction rate. Accelerator driven systems use just the accelerators. Aside from a few crazy designs like the Russian RBMK that blew up at Chernobyl, all properly designed reactors are dynamically stable systems, so they can't have a runaway reaction simply due to the physics of how the core is designed (this is called a negative reactivity coefficient - temperature goes up, reactivity goes down, so the system self-stabilizes at a predesigned operational temperature). In cases of station blackout, shutdown systems initiate because of laws of physics, e.g. due to gas pressure or gravity, inserting control rods and stopping the reaction entirely. More modern designs like the IFR don't even need this, as the fuel pins themselves will go subcritical due to thermal expansion. These are just some of the failsafe approaches taken in traditional reactors to provide reactivity control. Of course, after shutdown, decay heat removal is still required, but it's also required in accelerator-driven systems!

It is expensive because of all the prior improper risk taking.

Look, I know you hate nuclear power with a passion, so it's in your interest to try and heap as many costs onto it as possible, but in reality, it's only because you have been sold a bag of lies. Don't take this the wrong way, but in my experience, hate is usually due to fear and fear due to ignorance. I'd humbly recommend you learn about how nuclear reactors actually work in more detail, so that you can understand that they aren't the ticking time bombs you presumably imagine them to be.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773311)

An accelerator can disrupt the fission products directly. You are thinking of the transuranics with your spallation target. http://large.stanford.edu/cour... [stanford.edu] But, the fission products can themselves be proton targets and be disrupted right down to hydrogen.

I understand that you have a strange love for nuclear power. But for those of us who see it realistically, your love of power is a classic of mythology which always ends badly. Nuclear power has its place in naval propulsion, but in a civilian context it is a very poor choice. It is time to clean up your mess.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a month ago | (#47773245)

More to the point: It essentially takes more energy and money to eliminate the waste that way then what you got out of it in the first place.

Re:On site transmutation (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47773423)

Yes, nuclear power was a mistake that must be paid for. Luckily, much cheaper energy will be available to do the repayment than was generated originally and it will continue to be available after the clean up job is done for fun things like space catapults, another kind of accelerator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

Re:On site transmutation (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a month ago | (#47773537)

You should change your name to mdagainstnuclear. :-)

Civil Unrest (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771069)

Even the 60 year time frame is subject to risk that civil unrest in the environs of the waste would breach security. In the indefinite time frame, that becomes a dead certainty.

Re:Civil Unrest (1)

Phil Karn (14620) | about a month ago | (#47771569)

And civil unrest becomes vastly more likely in a future with runaway global warming and the climatic changes, floods, draughts, food shortages, rising sea levels, mass extinctions, habitat destruction, economic upheavals and the like it will bring. Nuclear power, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are ALL essential to combat it.

CO2's atmospheric lifetime is something like 1,000 years. How come those who fret about the longevity of nuclear waste never seem to talk about this? With fast reactors that burn the actinides (including plutonium) as fuel, the remaining fission products decay to the level of the original uranium ore (while being considerably more compact) in only a few hundred years, much less than the atmospheric lifetime of CO2.

The hype about "carbon capture" is just that -- hype. But it serves one useful purpose: its utter impracticality shows just how minor the nuclear waste "problem" is by comparison.

Re:Civil Unrest (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771615)

Nuclear power has too high an opportunity cost and so slows climate response in addition to laying these booby traps all over the place. http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C... [rmi.org]

Better idea. (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month ago | (#47771129)

How about a rule that after n years, they must either hand it over to the proper storage facility, or grind it up and airdrop it over the idiots who keep preventing anyone from building a proper storage facility.

Spent fuel containment is required infrastructure (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a month ago | (#47771571)

I'll probably be modded down for expressing my opinion however this is a disappointing outcome for the Nuclear Industry.

When Dixie Lee Ray was the head of the Atomic Energy Commission he proclaimed that the disposal of nuclear fuel would be “the greatest non-problem in history” and would be accomplished by 1985, yet here we are in 2014, almost thirty years past that date and still there is no acceptable high level waste disposal site anywhere. The closest anyone has come is the Swiss and even thier project is a multi-decade test project and extremely expensive.

Nuclear power is energy intensive *after* the energy has been produced simply because material technology is not adequate to produce a Nuclear reactor that has a life span that matches the geological time frames of the fuel. This exposes the facility to all the issues associated with decommissioning reactor sites every 4 decades or so. A reactor design that lasts at least 1000 years and is a closed loop, i.e. the plutonium goes in and nothing comes out (except electricity and possibly hydrogen) and avoids all the energetic costs associated with mining, enrichment and decommissioning/demolition of the reactor is the reactor technology issue that has to be solved for Nuclear Energy to be viable because otherwise it can never realize the full energetic yield of the fuel.

This looks like the authorities are effectively giving up on producing the solutions that the Nuclear industry requires to be viable. The first step is a geologically spent fuel containment facility, with appropriate infrastructure to support it is the first step in reviving the nuclear industry. It doesn't matter whether you are for or against Nuclear power this is a basic structural issue that need to be solved. If you're for Nuclear Power then it is a requirement to develop new reactors, if you're against Nuclear Power then it is a requirement to keep radionuclides out of the environment.

Just leaving it around existing reactor sites is a admission that a proper solution is too hard and that further investment in the Nuclear Industry is pointless, when in actuality investment in containment infrastructure is essential.

Re:Spent fuel containment is required infrastructu (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47771627)

How ironic that this dodge is an expedient to try to license new plants.

Re:Spent fuel containment is required infrastructu (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a month ago | (#47772473)

How ironic that this dodge is an expedient to try to license new plants.

It will appear that way but it won't be the result. The 2005 energy act disassembled the PUCHA put in place after the depression. Companies are now free to come in and make plans for locating pre-approved reactors and despite the claims of NIMBYism the same 2005 act denies local residents the right to have any involvement in the considerations for placing those reactors.

Not that it matters. Only oil and coal companies have the financial clout to pay for reactors and this is a clear way for those companies to plunder ratepayers with the tax credits they will receive even if they don't build the reactor, as they drive America into another depression.

Department of Energy (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a month ago | (#47772685)

The DoE is responsible for dealing with the nuclear waste. The NRC is responsible for nuclear safety. This regulation indicates that they do not want to do their part of the job. A freeze on new plants should remain in place until DoE gets its act together. This claim that indefinite storage of nuclear waste out in the open is safe is obviously wrong. Now that the NRC has made it, then all their claims to be pursuing nuclear safety are suspect as well. The NRC is out to promote nuclear power at any cost including subjecting the public to nuclear hazards.

WAMSR? (1)

Archtech (159117) | about a month ago | (#47772957)

Why am I not seeing much more discussion of the "Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor" (WAMSR)?

http://news.discovery.com/tech... [discovery.com]

According to the description, the WAMSR produces power like any other nuclear power station - but it is fuelled by "nuclear waste", which is essentially just fuel that has been 5% consumed and then discarded as no longer viable. Its proponents say that the WAMSR could provide all the power the human race needs until 2080, while using up all the nuclear waste that people are so upset about.

Better still, if necessary we can go on running conventional nuclear plants, and feeding their waste directly to WAMSRs.

OK, please tell me what's wrong with this picture? I obviously have missed some serious problem, but I'm puzzled that I haven't read articles debunking the WAMSR - instead, it's been completely ignored. Just as puzzling as the way bacteriophages are being ignored as replacements for antibiotics.

Perma-glow (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about a month ago | (#47773857)

Great. I guess that means the waste stored in metal shed buildings here at Indian Point can just stay there forever....a pile of dead radioactive waste, forty miles north of NYC, with a river that runs in two directions.... What could go wrong ? If the Roman Empire had nuclear power, we'd still be dealing with the waste. I'm for nuclear power, but allowing the waste to just sit there....well, you don't mess where you eat.....
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