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Yucca Mountain, Open For Business

chrisd posted more than 12 years ago | from the but-I-didn't-know-I-was-moving-next-door-to-the-test-site dept.

United States 366

John Galt writes: "It seems the Feds have finally decided that Nevada will host the government's nuclear waste repository." The Yucca Mountain project has been in the works for a while. Here is a cutaway diagram.

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Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the sun (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822340)

Thats always been my take on this. The one major downside is that we may need the resources in the future. Otherwise what better way is there to spread it through the universe so it can be redeposited at a later date in a different spot in less toxic densities.

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (2)

Ewan (5533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822345)

The other minor downside would be if the rocket blew up you would just have annihilated the entire planet...

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822351)

I think the launch would be a pretty risky thing. Imagine the rocket blowing up at 15km up or so.

here's a little math problem (3, Insightful)

crayz (1056) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822360)

one nuclear power plant makes 30,000lbs of waste per year. sending one pound of something into space costs $10,000.

now multiply those two numbers together to determine the cost of waste disposal using your plan. for one plant. for one year. then ask yourself who is going to pay for that

Re:here's a little math problem (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822377)

Hey. Do you know how to make "street meth" from decongestant tablets? Can you put up a little guide if you get the chance? Thanks.

even worse... (2)

renard (94190) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822501)

if you want to get it into the sun you have to supply a delta-velocity of 30 km/s (Earth's orbital velocity). that's four times the velocity to get to Earth orbit (your $10k/lb figure).

conservatively speaking that's going to increase your cost estimate by a factor of 10...


Re:here's a little math problem (3, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822605)

The price estimation you gave is the current one.
Now, if everybody consider doing this, won't the cost dramatically decrease to some more reasonable level ?
We should start thinking about mass-space-travelling so that price won't mater as much anymore.
Maybe our grand-children will be able to spend their honeymoon on the moon.
I know I sound a bit optimistic but if somebody had told our parents some people would walk on the moon, they wouldn't have believed it.

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (1)

Strudleman (147303) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822366)

Ideally, that would be great. What better way to rid us of nuclear waste than to shoot it into space? But what happens if the rocket blows up? We've just put an entire hemisphere into a nuclear winter.

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (3, Informative)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822384)

Nuclear winters are caused by the dust kicked up by multiple warheads impacting and exploding on the earth's crust. A single rocket with waste blowing up in the atmosphere, critical mass or not, will not cause a nuclear winter.

What you will get is a nasty case of Chernobyl-style fallout, combined with a Mir-like dispersal of radioactive junk across a given hemisphere. Time to stock up on fallout shelters and iodine tablets...

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822368)

Truly a nice idea.
Apart from the safety issue, the other problem is the cost-benefit of doing this.
Space launches cost X million, and you'd get a 'few' tons of waste disposed of. Digging a really big, deep hole is much cheaper and you can store more.
I agree, that the big hole is a problem for _much_ longer than the space launch, but politicians only care about the next 4 years...

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (2)

pgpckt (312866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822459)

Um, congressmen only care about the next two years, and Senators only care about the next six. If you are going to be cynical, at least be accurate!

Re:Load the stuff on a rocket and shoot it to the (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822496)

In .uk the government is elected every 4.

Put it in a fast reactor (5, Insightful)

morbid (4258) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822516)

Much better idea:

Put the plutonium in a fast reactor and generate electricity while reducing the quantity of plutonium and creating shorter-lived daugter products. So, that's (1) reducing the amount of plutonium (2) getting electricity out of it (3) reducing the waste storage cost.
The problem is getting the screaming hedgemonkies in Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to let you do it since it impinges on their superstitious beliefs.

Yuck (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822342)

a mountain of a first post.

lets start a collection (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822344)

Jon Katz has been working hard for the past few years, and I think he deserves a vacation. I've been thinking about where we could send him for a while now, and I think I just found my answer

Re:lets start a collection (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822393)

Jon Katz has been dead for nearly six months. Taco and the rest of the /. fags keep his decomposed corpse around for their sick sexual "games". Everything you've seen recently with a "Jon Katz" tagline was simply plagiarized, either from Arabic and Far Eastern news sources, or AOL home pages.

Re:lets start a collection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822534)

haaha, nice one. if i bothered to log in ever, id add you to my friends list.

Random Note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822347)

Hey, maybe they'll be able to make more souvenir salt packets from the salt they mine while excavating the tunnels - I still have mine - looks like funny colored rock salt, with a little WIPP logo on the outside...

Pretty creepy. (2)

torpor (458) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822350)

Imagine what sort of a hideout that would be, for, say, an international terrorist or two ...

Man, the world is definitely getting to be more like "James Bond" than it is "Space, 1999".


Anyway, big deal about this nuclear repository problem, anyway. Once it's there, it's there, and all we gotta do is keep an eye on it.

Of course, getting it into that hole is going to be interesting. Imagine what a security nightmare *THAT* is going to be... I'd say a train carrying a bunch of nuclear, radioactive, material through, oh, say, 20 different states would be a pretty handy for any sort of weapon that would *burn* it easily.

Ercck. I don't even want to think about it. Way too much 007 ...

Re:Pretty creepy. (2)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822372)

Imagine what sort of a hideout that would be, for, say, an international terrorist or two ...

Quite a hot one according to the article - it's 400 degrees F (~750 celsius)

Actually, maybe that's what you meant, it'd be like a 5 minute preparation for where they're going to end up for the rest of eternity ;-)

Re:Pretty creepy. (2)

torpor (458) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822380)

Yeah, that's what I'd *WANT* you to think, if I was Dr. Bad, hiding away in a mountain lair, I "conveniently" had built for me by the "U.S. Government"...

And I'll take my blonde bunny army with me, too!

Re:Pretty creepy. (2, Informative)

jmorzins (86648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822405)

it's 400 degrees F (~750 celsius)

I think you converted in the wrong direction: 400 degrees F is only about 200 degrees C.

Re:Pretty creepy. (1)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822607)

Oops yeah, I multiplied by 9/5 instead of 5/9. TFI friday!

Re:Pretty creepy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822681)

There's something wrong about your degF to degC conversion. It's more like 232 degrees Celsius.

Re:Pretty creepy. (1)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822379)

I can't help but wonder if the mountains in Nevada will glow an eerie shade of green under the night sky...

Maybe...maybe not...not like there's anything else out there.


Re:Pretty creepy. (2)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822406)

Except those of us who live here and don't use Nuclear power.

Re:Pretty creepy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822634)

Nobody lives in the Nevada desert. If you do you should really move. Haven't you heard they're building a huge nuclear waste dump under a mountain there? ;-) At least they didn't build it in the midwest.. phfew.

Re:Pretty creepy. (1)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822482)

Wouldn't that be better than a certain train I sort of remember from way back when that was carrying nuclear waste, but no one would let it offload? The train just kept driving around with its happy cargo, until several weeks (months?) later when someone finally accepted it.

The real usage... (4, Offtopic)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822355)

What could be safer than disposing of unwanted bodies in the Nevada desert? Stick them in an enormous nuclear silo with 77 000 tons of stuff that'll kill you if you get near it! ;-)

Visible from space? (1)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822359)

After they load this sucker up, will you be able to detect the emissions from space, gamma, visual, or otherwise?

Look for laws mandating that routes for waste transport be published for the public saftey and need to know, then subsequently rovoked under homeland defense concerns...

Re:Visible from space? (0)

morbid (4258) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822739)

Bloody hell, I hope not or anyone anywhere near it on the ground will be in serious danger of dying very prematurely.

One quote jumped out at me... (2, Insightful)

zesnark (167803) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822361)

"He said increased unease about terrorist attacks makes it even more important that the nation's radioactive waste be consolidated."

Eggs. Basket. z

Re:One quote jumped out at me... (1, Interesting)

togofspookware (464119) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822562)

I don't think the "don't keep all your eggs in one basket" arguement really makes any sense in this case. If you're going to bury all your eggs and don't want anyone to find them, it's a lot easier to guard a single basket, and less likely that someone'll stuble across an egg by accident. Distributing nuclear waste freenet-style is exactly what we don't want to do.

Re:One quote jumped out at me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822590)

But in this case, it's the terrorist's basket, because the eggs have negative value.

Lawyers, start your engines! (2, Insightful)

zbuffered (125292) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822371)

How much money could you squeeze out of the US govt. if you live next door, and turn up with cancer or lose your hair or go impotent or whatever? Enough to make the remainder of your life and your kids' lives comfortable, I would assume.
And if you don't suffer any adverse effects, then what does it matter that there's nuclear waste next door?

Re:Lawyers, start your engines! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822641)

But nobody lives "next door" to the Yucca mountain. It's in the middle of the fucking Nevada desert dude. Nobody lives in Nevada unless they're in Reno or Las Vegas.

Life imitating art... (5, Funny)

ct (85606) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822381)

1) add one part Nevada
2) sprinkle with underground radioactive waste
3) bake for two hours in the presence of Kevin Bacon

Let me save you the wait - the resulting giant cannibal worms will be suckers for TNT & the last one will have to be tricked into burrowing off of a canyon ledge.

(Yeah I know - calling Tremors [] art is stretching it a little... ok alot)


Re:Life imitating art... (0)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822452)

You should be shot for that.

That's not a good idea because... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822387)

That's wonderful. The majority of the country is downwind.

solution to nuclear waste problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822390)

I've heard of sweeping things under the carpet but this is silly

Why is it being thrown away at all? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822398)

If this waste is supposed to be generating temperatures of 400 degrees, why can't it be used to generate power? Not even anti-nuclear people could argue against it; its already nuclear waste.

Re:Why is it being thrown away at all? (1)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822494)

They would find a reason. For instance, they might argue that using it in this manner would encourage increased use of nuclear power.

Re:Why is it being thrown away at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822658)

Anti-nuclear people aren't logical though. They've grown up watching too much Captain Planet and think protests and sympathetic legislation can make the nuclear waste vanish as quickly as Captain Planet can swirl up a giant tornado to blast all the waste into the Sun. All the while noticably blakening the sun for a few seconds because of the impure nuclear waste hurting the fragile ecosphere of its flaming surface. Come on, you know the shows. You've had to wake up some day and be bored and flip around to TBS and see Captain Planet right? That's how these nut jobs think. When logically the solution is to put this waste into a different kind of reactor and use it again, they say we must stop using nuclear power at all cost and site the waste as the example. No matter though, this is just a temporary inconvenience until stable fusion power is developed. After that the only waste will be the stuff left under the Yucca mountain and scattered among a few other places in the country.

No Maps... (2, Interesting)

alpinist (96637) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822407)

Interesting to note is the removal of maps of the site from

Didn't the Soviets classify maps too, to "minimize the risk of providing potentially sensitive information that could result in adverse impacts to National security"? (Quote from the site.)

Brave new world, indeed! Am I the only one who misses September 10th?

Problems.... (5, Insightful)

ishark (245915) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822411)

From the link:

Energy Department scientists contend those issues either have been resolved or can be dealt with as a final design for the facility goes through the licensing process.

I don't understand: if there still are issues which are not resolved, how can the decision to put the dump there be taken? What if the issues CANNOT be dealt with during the final phase? Does anyone believe that they will they be able to admit and back out?
I'm not surprised that the local politicians (and I suppose also the population) are NOT happy about it....

Also, in the post-9/11 world it'll be much harder to keep en eye on what's happening as "for security reasons" lots of stuff has been pulled from the Internet. For example, in France we have a recycling site at La Hague [] which used to give access to many webcams inside the installation (the new director's policy was "absolute transparency" to reassure citizens), but now they are offline....

Re:Problems.... (5, Insightful)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822577)

Perhaps they have in the back of their minds the fact that at the moment the waste is being stored all over the country in various temporary containment facilities.

I don't know for a fact, but perhaps even with the known problems for the new site, they still think it's better than the current situation.


Re:Problems.... (3, Interesting)

karb (66692) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822727)

I don't understand: if there still are issues which are not resolved, how can the decision to put the dump there be taken?

In any engineering discipline, there are all sorts of problems which need to be solved. Just because those problems exist doesn't mean they can't be solved. In fact, you usually do something called 'risk reduction', which means you sit around and think of solutions to a problem, and backups to those solutions.

Many public problems with the government (and the private sector, too) are the results of a 'common sense' approach to engineering projects. "I know how long it takes to drive to the grocery store, therefore the government should know, to the dollar, how much it would cost to build the most technologically advanced strike fighter in the world ten years before they do it."


Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822416)

This chick is SMOKIN', and she wants YOU **NOW**! Use uudecode to check her out!!!

begin 644 lolita.jpg

Do not decode! (-1)

the_furies (541751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822464)

The resulting picture looks like this [] . You have been warned.

Yucca flats? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822417)

I think Yucca mountain is close to Frenchman and
Yucca flats. If that's the case, it makes sense
to build a nuclear waste dump there.

In case you didn't know, that area was used for
a large proportion of 'on continent' nuclear
testing done in the 50's and later.

The land is toast, adding more embers seems
to make sense, in this case.

- Penguin Kicka.

Slashdot: News or Propaganda? (-1, Offtopic)

Mode0x13 (550144) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822422)

Slashdot: News for Nerds? Or Propaganda for the Impressionable?

Day in and day out, Slashdot sings the praises of "open source" software. New readers of the site must be a little puzzled to find items like "GPL Violation discovered" and "Open Source Guru Speaks" listed on the main page alongside the "straight" science and technology news. Unfortunately, few people really know what Open Source stands for. Perhaps Richard Means Stallman, one of the founders of the movement, can elucidate.

"[The GNU goal was] to be able to use a computer without using any proprietary software," declaims RMS. [] "Because that way, you can lead a better life." Of course, the only way to get rid of proprietary software is to destroy the software companies that produce it. One way this is accomplished is by putting software that would normally be public domain under a license RMS himself created, called the "General Public License," or "GPL." Simply put, this license allows code to be reused-- unless the final product is distributed without its source code, as a proprietary product must be.

Software is a commodity, and people will often take the cheapest product, even if they have to spend inordinate amounts of time struggling with poor documentation and clumsy user interfaces. "One of the best things I could do with my life is: find a gigantic pile of proprietary software that was a trade secret, and start handing out copies on a street corner so it wouldn't be a trade secret any more," enthuses RMS. [] "Perhaps that would be a much more efficient way for me to give people new free software than actually writing it myself."

It's time to stop the doubletalk and start thinking about the real meaning of intellectual property. By some measures, intellectual property is the main export of the developed countries of the world. Artists, actors, and musicians make a living off the intellectual property they produce. Programmers and engineers create designs to be sold. And journalists and writers depend on intellectual property. Ironically, the only jobs not deeply tied to intellectual property are the jobs many slashdot readers affect to despise, like service workers, menial laborers, and administrators. If slashdot readers can't stomach Scott McNealy, maybe they would prefer to work with Ronald McDonald. From the other side of the fast food counter.

Not everyone enjoys working at a menial job in the day, simply in order to slave away at poorly organized programming projects. Not everyone enjoys being told that he has the "freedom" to work, without pay, for a small clique of free software partisans. It is one thing to oppose microsoft's monopoly on the desktop, and the RIAA's slow strangulation of fair use rights. It is quite another to embrace a whole economic and political ideology that centers around the exploitation of childlike programming savants.

This message is not a troll, although many slashdot readers may take it as such. It is simply a warning to users to think carefully before they blindly follow the political lead of Rob Malda, Jon Katz, and the like. I encourage readers to repost the text of this message, and others like it, to the supposedly "free" message boards of slashdot and other sites.

Peace out, and God bless.

-1 Offtopic (2)

ishark (245915) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822451)

This message is not a troll,

No, it's just completely -1 offtopic. There are lots of threads about licensing where it may have a place (ok, it's written to sound like trolling, so it may end up moderated accordingly), but here it's just out of place.

Too bad I don't have an "offtopic" for you.

hmmm... (2, Interesting)

gnovos (447128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822424)

One would assume that you could go an dump your heavy metals in one of the pacific trenches and let it get sucked back into the earth's core, right?

This should be Mod'ed sky high (0)

halo8 (445515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822468)

Ive always wondered this to. uranium comes from the earth so why not put it back in the earth? like a undersea volcano or somthing? whats wrong with that?

no subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822541)

don't volcanos usually erupt?

Re:no subject (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822636)

doesn't your face?
in zits?
Or are you past that stage? (your wisdom teeth have)

Re:no subject (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822693)

i erupted on your mom last night.

Re:This should be Mod'ed sky high (1)

FirstEdition (79762) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822643)

Because to make it useful for reactor or weapons use, it must first be processed, making it a billion times(*) more potent than the naturally ocurring stuff.

(*) note: wild estimation to illustrate a point

Re:hmmm... Nope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822657)

Things would not get sucked back into the Earth's core, the best you could realistically hope for is some recycling/mixing in the mantle.

Earth cut-away []

Sorry I could not find a diagram depicting mantle flow; also mantle flow is a current "hot-topic", nobody can say for certain what the flow looks like. This means it would be very difficult to predict when/if the stuff would come back up in a nearby oceanic ridge, hot-spot (Hawaii, etc.) or volcano (volcano's go hand-in-hand with subducting plates, read trenches).

This means the risks are still too high/unknown, just as in the case with the "booster rocket to the sun" idea. Both excellent ideas but until we can minimize the risk let's bury it in Nevada's backyard.

Re:hmmm... (5, Informative)

limber (545551) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822672)

Using deep-sea subduction zones to dispose of waste is an interesting idea that has been kicking around for awhile.

However, there are a few concerns, some political, some practical which have not been sufficiently dealt with (yet), for use of this method to be deemed acceptable.

It goes against the grain of current 'waste disposal' thought. In the past, the model used to be "dilute and disperse". Then, as we realized some pollutants remain toxic even in low low exposure rates, the model changed to "concentrate and contain". You can see this mindset in our acceptance of smokestacks: they used to be a sign of progress, now they're not welcome in your neighbourhood. So, simply dumping nuclear waste into a subduction zone gives the shivers to anyone raised in this mindset, even if logically you can show that the subduction zone does in fact carry material only downward -- you can't guarantee the waste isn't going to wind up someplace where it can do harm. Models can only show you what should happen; the real world often decides to disagree. So it's a tough approach to sell.

The key thing is, once the waste is down there, you no longer have control. Who knows what might happen to it. Once waste is placed at the subduction zone, human intervention will be extremely difficult, whether by submersible or robot remote.

If a waste container breaks open down there (and don't think you can economically design one that won't -- the forces down there are spectacular), there's not much you can do except cover it with dirt or other materials. "Oh, it's just one broken waste cannister at the bottom of the entire ocean" -- see how well that goes over with Greenpeace.

The other main practical consideration is actually getting the waste containers to go into the subduction zones. Most subduction zones have thick sedimentation layers over
their sea floor opening. We're talking about tectonic processes here, not vacuum cleaners. That is, any container you put there is just going to sit at the bottom for a long long time without actually going anywhere.

ACK! (4, Informative)

PD (9577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822425)

This doesn't seem like it's the best solution here. I can think of two alternatives that aren't being used or investigated: 1) subduction zones. Put the waste deep into a subduction zone instead of a stable region like Yucca Mtn. Instead of hanging around basically forever, the waste will be pulled underneath the Earth's crust eventually. 2) Breeder reactors. Using breeder reactors would allow ALL of the Uranium isotopes to be burned in the production of energy, not just the U-235. That means that the ultimate waste product of the reactors would have a half-life of under 30 years instead of thousands of years. France deals with their nuclear waste like this already, and we should too.

Re:ACK! (2)

Detritus (11846) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822537)

1) subduction zones. Put the waste deep into a subduction zone instead of a stable region like Yucca Mtn. Instead of hanging around basically forever, the waste will be pulled underneath the Earth's crust eventually.

For large values of eventually.

Re:ACK! (1)

lightray (215185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822659)

Subduction zones also have the most and the strongest earthquakes.... great place for fragile containers of nuclear waste!

Re:ACK! (1)

foolish youngster (168792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822661)

1)subduction zones. Put the waste deep into a subduction zone instead of a stable region like Yucca Mtn. Instead of hanging around basically forever, the waste will be pulled underneath the Earth's crust eventually.

Subduction zones are out of the question simply because it would only be a few thousand years untill volcanic activity brought the crap to the surface.

2) Breeder reactors. Using breeder reactors would allow ALL of the Uranium isotopes to be burned in the production of energy, not just the U-235. That means that the ultimate waste product of the reactors would have a half-life of under 30 years instead of thousands of years.

Where the hell did you get your figures man? So-Called "breeder" reactors are called that because they generate plutonium, a substance that has a half-life of 35,000 years and 1 gram has the lethality potential to kill nearly a million people. This is what is going to be deposited under Yucca Mtn. The region is geologically unstable, (there was an earthquake measuring 8.2 approx old scale) less than 200 years ago. The conservative revoulutionists presently holding power have never allowed good science to get in the way of just doing what they please, and in this case the potential for a major disaster in the next 1000 years is relativly high.
I would not mind nuclear power being used as long as the generation plants were being built with electricity generation and safety being the primary focus, and not profit generation, as has always been the case before. The Nuclear industry has always been about maximum revenue and it is time to ban the private construction and operation of these highly precise and dangerous systems.

Mass Drivin' (0, Troll)

Vidmaster_Steve (455301) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822428)

Actually, an idea that I had proposed (and had shot down by those who called in "unpractical." bastards) was, instead of building a massive waste dump 90 miles north of Stenchburg (aka cruddy Vegas) we construct an immense mass driver in the Great Smoky Valley, which is smack dab in the center of the Greatest State in the Union (Nevada). This mass driver would have to be approxamatley 90 miles long and slowly arc upward to a height of two miles. Instead of burying the waste in the ground, where it could possibly leak, or even worse, be stumbled across by an archeological team in a future that has long forgotten about us.

This immense mass driver could hurl ten thousand (10,000g) gallon drums of nuclear waste into a rapidly-decaying solar orbit. Just dunk the stuff into the sun. This immense project would create thousands of jobs (construction, operation and maintenance), as well as being a stepping stone on the high, jagged cliff face that is the complete eradication of our dependance on fossil fuels.

But nay, the (Californicated) local government (fuck you Douglas County) thought that it would be decidedly too costly and was shot down before even making it to state assembly. I don't see how it could be though. Sure, it would take about four nuke plants on its own to operate, but the costs would be essentially negated by the charge placed upon each ten thousand gallon drum of waste. And not to mention the added tourist dollars. I mean, who in their right mind WOULDN'T want to see that thing fired? Clouds would part and thunder would roll as the drums travel at twenty-five times the speed of sound...
Imagine the casino revenue, brothel revenue, et cetera. We were sitting on (another) gold mine there people. But they wanted to go with the lame, unambitious, non-dramatic way of eliminating a major stumbling block for the widestream acceptance of nuclear power...

Also, it could be used to liquefy those that pronounce The Great State's second A incorrectly. Listen here people, it's like "can" not "soft." Fuck, if it were like "soft" it'd be spelled Nevawda, you fucking savages.

Re:Mass Drivin' (2)

s390 (33540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822587)

Well, although it seems you have some, er... unresolved issues with Nevada government as well as an unfortunate affinity for bold text, I will agree with you in principle. A mass driver to get this poisonous junk entirely off the planet seems like a reasonable proposition. Imagine mag-lev and an inclined railgun mass-driver able to accelerate a ton or more per shot to escape velocity. One problem is that it needs to face East (use the Earth's rotation rather than have to overcome it) and that makes most politicians based eastwards of wherever it's built nervous in case of a "partial" launch. A ton or more of highly radioactive nuclear waste landing anywhere can really ruin your next ten thousand years. And the US isn't a good place to site this - it's too far North - someplace near the Equator would be much better (that's why Ariane launches there). Maybe Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, even Panama or Puerto Rico? Their economies could sure use the massive cash infusion lasting decades until the job's done. And the system could be used to drive materials into orbit for space stations, Mars and beyond exploration (oops, different bureaucracy). But of course our vision impaired, cover-your-ass bureaucrats won't ever think of doing anything even remotely like this. They've spent $6 Billion on CYA for Yucca Mountain and they are determined to do it, whether or not it's the right answer or Nevada (or anyone else) objects to this. That said, it's a conservative choice - big hole in the ground under a stable desert mountain, way above the water table. Just hope they weld the doors shut when they leave, post warning signs, etc. Ten thousand years is a long, long time - about as long since people developed languages. Let's just hope global warming and geological changes don't turn Nevada into an inland sea in the interim, or something. Keeping it on-planet seems risky to me.

Stupid bold text. (1)

Vidmaster_Steve (455301) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822668)


After getting that damn message ten times in a row, I just stopped hitting the damn "preview" button. Only after I had posted, had I remembered that I left out an R from the good old break tag. Whoops.

Re:Stupid bold text. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822705)

Yea, that is worse now. If you get that message, then go back and wait it resets the timer again! I love when it says "Slow down there cowboy" and says it has only been 19 out of 20 seconds since your last post. Fucking savages.

Sub-Seabed (5, Interesting)

kEnder242 (262421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822429)

There was a Scientific American article about this alternative solution a few years back.

Vol. 276, Jan. 98, pp. 60-65, Burial of Radioactive Waste Under the Seabed.

Holes could be drilled hundreds of meters below the seafloor in geologically inactive areas. Canisters spaced around 10 meters appart could be lined up around the bottom. Removal (in case something goes wrong) would not be a problem with a rentry cone at the top for a future drill.

It turns out the mud under the seabed has a consistancy of peanut butter, ideal for slowing the spread of any radioactive waste.

"Around 1,000 years later the metal seathing would corrode, leaving the nuclear waste expodes to the muds. In 24,000 years (the radiocative half-life of plutonium 239), plutonium and other transuranic elements would migrate outward les than a meter."

Unfortunatly this soulution is sometimes grouped with "ocean dumping" an therefore prohibited by international law.

(quick google search) ea bed.htm

Re:Sub-Seabed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822648)

It turns out the mud under the seabed has a consistancy of peanut butter, ideal for slowing the spread of any radioactive waste.

Hey, thanks! That could come in handy.
Did you see that on McGuiver?

Weather Balloon (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822436)

Maybe people will pay more attention when there's reports of (glowing) green men emerging from craters in the desert.......

At least the feds are giving full disclosure! (5, Insightful)

pgpckt (312866) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822445)


The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management promotes the open review of documents by the public during the Yucca Mountain site recommendation consideration process. However, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, we have removed certain content from our Internet site to minimize the risk of providing potentially sensitive information that could result in adverse impacts to National security. The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management apologizes for any inconvenience that this action may cause. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these difficult times.

We support open disclosure. Except to you. Or anyone else that might care about the safety of radioactive waste. I mean, not providing this info on the internet is to prevent terrorism! So that's good!

Will Sept 11th be the excuse for the de facto revoking of sunshine laws and intrusions on liberties? I think maybe.

Not great, but better than current solution. (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822456)

This might not appease the people in Nevada but it is many many times better than the haphazard method we use now of storing the waste at the nulcear sites.

31 places to watch, to have an accident, to possibly poison ground water, versus 1.

Its not a hard choice to make, especially given todays state of affairs

Should that not be Yucka mountain? (0, Offtopic)

jonr (1130) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822474)

No text

Open Source it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822475)

Make the nuclear waste material open and available to everyone to use according to the license (BSD or LGPL, I'd say). If they do this, then the bugs in it can easily be fixed by these new users and eventually the waste will be time-tested and ready for a more widespread public consumption. After all Bush has let us know that nuclear power is cleaner, safer and, along with consuming all the oil reserves in the world as fast as possible, it is the future of energy production in our lives. Therefore we should make all parts of this beautiful process open to everyone to enjoy and improve both it and themselves.

Can't we do better than 100 miles? (1)

Deviant (1501) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822478)

The website says that it is an ideal location because it is 100 miles from a major population center, Las Vegas. There is a whole lot of nothing out west and I would think we could do better than 100 miles away from a big city. I personally wouldn't be too keen on having the nuclear waste for the whole country being dumped an hour and a half away.

Re:Can't we do better than 100 miles? (1)

vrmlknight (309019) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822489)

HA i say your wrong 100 miles would take less than an hour to drive on open desert

Re:Can't we do better than 100 miles? (3, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822586)

Yucca Mountain is located at the NTS (Nevada Test Site), where the USA has performed most of its nuclear weapons testing. So it isn't exactly a pristine example of desert wilderness. The site also has the most of the needed infrastructure and security already there.

Saw a story about this the other day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822492)

Wired [] ran a story about this the other day.

Basically the gist of the article was that we can't be sure if this is safe and/or a good idea until we try it. I know some kids who started smoking for that exact same reason in junior high... Oh well, at least I don't live anywhere near the site.

Sucks for Nevada, but we gotta store this crap (4, Insightful)

baptiste (256004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822508)

Yes, in an ideal world we'd produce electricity without producing hazardous waste, etc. But the bottom line is we're building up loads of waste. Its got to be stored somewhere and somewhere secure. Like a previous poster said, talk about an ideal target for a terrorist. Many of these power companies have the waste stored outside on cemet pads surrounded by motion sensors, razor wire fence, armed guards and such, but a determined terrorist could still get to it if he wanted. This stuff needs to be stored in a secure location. Here in NC, our local power co, CP&L stores its waste in holding pools, allowing for denser storage of the fuel rods. There was a huge fight with a nearby county about the expansion of those pools (Currently only one is in use and CP&L wanted to bring another online) Both sides spent millions claiming the other was wrong. But in the end? Its an easy target. One well placed technician who knows his stuff could find a way to empty that pool or disable the cooling system and you've got three mile island all over again as teh rods boil off the water and start a reaction - remember, these things aren't inside a cement surrounded reactor vessel - they're open on top for access.

What kills me is millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in non stop fights over this site. Yes, nobody wats it in their backyard and if I lived near the site (like within a few hundred miles) I'd probably think about moving. But in this world if its not a nuclear dump, its a real dump, a highway going through your house, high tension utility wires, etc. I'm currently in teh study area for a divided highway, with oone of the routes going straight through our house. Sucks huge not knowin if you'll still be allowed to own your house X years from now - nice to know that none of us realyl OWN our land :)

Re:Sucks for Nevada, but we gotta store this crap (2)

bpowell423 (208542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822713)

Well, at least they're told you they're going to build a road through your house and you didn't wake up this morning to a big yellow bulldozer outside your kitchen window. :)

But your post is right on. Storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is the least-risky route. Launching the stuff to space would be cool, and would certainly rid us of the stuff, but one disaster...

Trucking it to Nevada and burying it under the desert is simply the best option. It would certainly be safe from "terrorists", as I imagine they'd never get past the security, and if they did, they'd die pretty quickly once they got underground with the stuff.

Maybe someday we'll have an abundant source of power that doesn't produce toxic waste, but for now, we're stuck with fossil fuels or nuclear fission. Myself, I like nuclear fission, because all the waste is contained. Nuclear fusion would be wonderful, but that's been 10 years away for the last 50 years. Beaming power down from satellites definitly has the geek factor, but seems to be way to obvious a target for sabotage.

I'm hopeful that this will finally go through.

Paying for old promises (1)

shut_up_man (450725) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822511)

"There are compelling national interests that require us to complete the siting process and move forward with the development of a repository as Congress mandated 20 years ago"

So 20 years ago, Congress stimulated nuclear power investment by making wild promises about how they would solve everyone's waste problems with this central storage facility. Of course, they completely underestimated the technical difficulty of the task, and no magical safe storage method was discovered in the intervening two decades. Now the government is pushing the project ahead ANYWAY, despite serious technical problems and unresolved questions.

I really wish someone had shown some guts 20 years ago and said "how about we hold off until we're sure we can deal with the waste"...

Not a bad solution (0, Troll)

tRoll with Butter (542444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822520)

..considering the limited options the government had to choose between.

Let's face it, we all know the best way to dispose of something is to flush it down the toilet. Hell, it works for fish - it should work for nuclear waste too! Just a quick flush later, and it should be on its way to a nuclear waste treatment plant [] . Unfortunately, in 1992, congress shot themselves in the foot [] by limiting the volume of flush water to 1.6 gallons (6.08 liters, to the rest of the world) per flush. As anyone who has tried to flush the end result of a recent mexican buffet knows, this isn't even enough water to flush the average feces log, let alone nuclear waste!

Clearly, flushing down the toilet is still a good solution, so I propose the government take a long hard look at the new pressure assisted [] toilets available today, which make the best use of the 1.6 gallons available to them by using the line pressure to increase the velocity of the flush. I've had the pleasure of trying one of these toilets out for myself and I have yet to find anything this toilet cannot flush. The sheer sucking power is nothing short of breathtaking. I'm sure this is our solution to nuclear waste disposal.

Re:Not a bad solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2822711)

I think that it is bullshit to limit the amount of water a toilet can use, especially for those of us living along the great lakes. We have quadrillions of gallons of water at our disposal and the shit (literally) just gets flushed back into the lakes anyway along with the water. Give me my five gallon toilet again god damnit! I can't flush these huge logs in one flush so I end up flushing it 5 or 6 times using even MORE water all the while plunging it down trying to get it down. Fucking politicians shouldn't mess with shit or sex.

Interest (0)

meggito (516763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822528)

Is there much interest in this subject around here, or in the environment in general? I would say no judging by the low response, there doesn't seem to be much. Well, at least they're doing it in the very unpopulous Nevada, though I honestly have not idea where the Yucca mountains are.

Mr Atlas says that the yucca flats are a little North East of Vegas in the Nuclear Testing area, so I guess that makes sense.

The Beast of Yucca Flats (2)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822535)

So, how long before Tor Johnson becomes exposed to the radiation and starts hunting 1950s B-movie babes?

If you haven't seen it, you can download the film and other MST episodes here [] .

Jimson weed! (1)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822552)

I remember reading this article way back when that talked about using Jimson weed to more efficiently store nuclear waste, water with plutonium in I think...

The gist of the story was that Jimson weed is supposed to be fairly hardy when exposed to nuclear waste. Feed the plant water with waste in it and the plant supposedly filters out and stores the waste material. The idea was to start with around 1000 barrels of liquid and end up with 1 barrel of radioactive Jimson weed. The end of the story was that this would all be a no-no because Jimson weed was a cousin to Marijuana- a controlled substance and so on.

I wonder- would doing this make the waste easier or harder to deal with? Wouldn't that barrel be much more radioactive? I know the total amount of radiation would be roughly the same, but it would be concentrated in a smaller volume. Ooh...critical mass maybe?

I tried to find the article online, but the closest thing was a reference in The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment. []

Re:Jimson weed! (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822591)

Glow in the dark spliffs.

Yucca Mountain is on a fault line (3, Interesting)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822569)

Putting a nuclear waste dump in a mountain that sits on a fault line [] doesn't seem the wisest of ideas. It seems that it's still fairly active [] .


Guess Harry Reid Lost (1)

hoovs (44014) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822606)

There was a good article [] in The New Republic about this issue a couple of weeks ago.

I guess even with his position of power Harry Reid [] finally lost and/or the rest of congress finally got (a little) common sense.

Welcome To Nevada (1)

codemonkey_uk (105775) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822611)

"America's Radioactive Dustbin"

Marking the Site (3, Interesting)

KingRoo (232714) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822673)

Another question is how do you keep the site marked, and perceived as dangerous, for 10K years? What message will last through whatever potential societal chaos/collapse/evolution is a'comin?

There was a design competition [] about this - my favorite is the Landscape of Thorns.

Smarts??? (1)

shaggy420 (550159) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822679)

Question: We have some of the smartest minds in the US working on this issue and the best thing they can think to do with this stuff is burry it in the ground. Come on!! I don't know about you but I would rather not be surrounded by vats of nuclear waste.

Shoot it into the sun? (4, Interesting)

nihilvt (212452) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822685)

There's always a lot of talk of shooting nuclear waste into the sun and/or into space as an alternative to underground storage. Over the past 30 years, 77,000,000 lbs (35,000,000 kg) of nuclear waste (from reactors) has been created. Rockets commonly used today for space launches (Atlas, Delta, Titan, etc) can put about 4,000 - 5000 lbs into an earth escape trajectory.

Give these numbers, that would require about 15,400 launches to get the nuclear waste off the earth and out of earth orbit. The rockets that we would most likely use for this have a failure rate of about %5. This would make about 800 failures. 800 failures in which 5000 lbs of nuclear waste could potentially be spread into the atmosphere and the air.

I know these numbers are just numbers, and statistics are just statistics, but I think it shows that the risks for launching nuclear waste into space are unacceptable.

Better idea (1)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822686)

I've got a better idea. Argentina needs money right now, why not pay them to host our little facility?

We don't even have to tell them what it's for, just say it's a cookie factory or something. Then whenever inspectors arrive to check the plant, pass out cookies. Problem solved.

More Radiation in the Capitol Than at Yucca (5, Interesting)

rtos (179649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822687)

Quoth Radiation Sources at the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress Buildings [] :
Gamma radiation dose rates were measured at several locations in and around the U.S. Capitol and U.S. Library of Congress buildings in Washington, D.C. A qualified radiation surveyor used a Bicron MicroRem meter for measuring. Dose rates inside the Capitol building and outside the Thomas Jefferson Building were measured at 30 microrem per hour. This dose rate: (1) exceeds local background radiation dose rates; (2) is up to 550 percent greater than the typical dose rate "at the fence line" around nuclear power plants; (3) is about 13,000 times greater than the average individual dose rate from worldwide nuclear power production; (4) is about 13,000 times greater than ongoing worldwide exposures to radiation from the Chernobyl accident; and (5) exceeds the dose rate associated with the radiation protection standards proposed for the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste facility. The measured level of radiation is associated with up to a 0.5 percent increase in cancer risk, according to U.S. EPA risk assessment methods.

Yes, read that again. The pedestal for the statue of Roger Williams (Rotunda/Senate Chamber Hallway, U.S. Capitol) gives off about 30 microrem per hour... more than the proposed standards for radiation at the perimeter of Yucca Mountain. Just to put it in perspective.

Open For Business? Not yet. (1)

jason99si (131298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822707)

A story on NPR said if it was decided to be used, the first radioactive material would start to arrive in about 10 years...

... time to sell the homestead.

A Participant's Perspective... (4, Interesting)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822718)

I've been closely following the Yucca Mountain investigations since the mid-1990s; my garage has hundreds of thousands (really!) of pages generated by various parties involved in this effort. I doubt DOE will continue to be so free with its literature, in light of "security cenrcenrs" raised by September 11th.

But I digress.

In a nutshell: "Approval" of the storage facility has been a foregone conclusion since the studies first began. Yucca Mountain was the only site studied, and any "problems" discovered have been ignored or glossed over.

The real problem is a lack of planning -- it isn't just the "Internet generation" who can't think ahead. Back when we began building nuclear power plants, no one thought about what we would do with the waste -- and so it now sits in over a hundred locations around the U.S., in hardened canisters sitting next to power plants. Because no one looked ahead fifty years ago, we now have a crisis on our hands, and little chance to make a rational decision.

The problem at hand: Nuclear waste needs to be stored somewhere, and Yucca Mountain is the only site selected for study. There may not be a rational, safe solution to the problem of nuclear waste -- and so Nevada's residents may take it in the shorts because of short-sighted and selfish politicians and

I say "may" because Nevadans are unlikely to lie down and "accept the inevitable." They're a feisty bunch, especially the ones who don't live in Reno or Lost Wages -- er, Las Vegas. The Ages Brush Rebellion is gaining strength again in the American West; confrontations between federal officials and local residents continue to rise.

You don't think this issue affects you? If you really think freedom is important, you might want to consider that Nevadans will be hosting nuclear waste that they did not create, as dictated by the federal government on behalf of big, stupid corporations. (Note: I like lots of businesses, even big ones -- but I have great disdain for stupid companies and people who impose their mistakes on others.)

For a somewhat different perspective on the issue, consider this article about the people who actually own Yucca Mountain:

Stealing Nevada []

That article (which I am currently updating) has been published all over the world (search Google for it) in print and online. It won't make much difference, of course, because most people only care about right and wrong when it affects them directly. It's too bad, really; what the federal government is doing today with national IDs, intelletual property, and waste dumps is the direct result of letting them push other people around.

Good luck to those in Nevada, Shoshone, Paiute, and other-American alike. You need it...

Stupid Proofreader... (2)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822725)

Frell it! It's "Sage Brush Rebellion", not "Ages Brush Rebellion!" Arrrghhhh... I even proofed the dammed article twice!

Eh, I'll blame it on my dyslexia; I'm always typing things sdrawkcab...

Slashdot effect (the powers of good) (1)

zak mchacken!! (465900) | more than 12 years ago | (#2822732)

I just noticed that they fixed the scripting on the rollovers. Not bad responce. Just hope they act that quick if something goes wrong.

Will the waste site be using any scripting in there processes ;)
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