Skip to main content

Used Fuel, Carbon Emissions and Vermont Yankee

From the Boston Globe:
Activists released a new report Friday indicating Vermont has more radioactive nuclear waste per capita than any state in the nation, which they said underscores the need for approval of a climate change bill that would tax the Vermont Yankee plant.
Which led Ruth Sponsler to respond:
Vermont Yankee's spent nuclear fuel is contained and hidden away where it hurts no one. If there's more "nuclear waste" per capita in Vermont than in other states, that means that Vermont is releasing less fossil fuel waste to the open atmosphere. That means Vermont residents breathe less sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrous oxides per capita - - - because nuclear energy is substituting for fossil fuel generation.
Here's hoping somebody's editor at the Boston Globe reads Ruth's response. For a previous post on anti-nuke efforts to increase taxes on Vermont Yankee, click here.

Comments

David Bradish said…
Vermont's population is about 650,000. Total cumulative spent fuel in Vermont is about 540 metric tons which equals 1.19 millions pounds. Total spent fuel per capita thus is 1.83 pounds. And this is over the entire lifespan of Vermont Yankee.

I haven't read the report so I don't know what numbers they came out with. But these numbers should more than anything tell people that the amount of waste per capita from nuclear is trivial.
Anonymous said…
What the article doesn't note, but Governor Douglas correctly has, is that Vermont also has bragging rights to having the cleanest air and smallest carbon footprint of all the US states. I cannot help but think that this is due in no small measure to the presence of Vermont Yankee as a major contributor to electricity supply in the state and region. Interesting how this inconvenient truth somehow slipped by the attention of the Glob.
Anonymous said…
The US Census Bureau source you linked to gives a 2006 population estimate for Vermont of 623,908.

It doesn't change your basic point, but I'm wondering how that number rounds up to 650,000? Why not just use the correct figure, especially when you're taking the per capita waste figure out to 2 decimal places?
David Bradish said…
Allright. The correct figure is 1.91 pounds per capita. When I'm looking at populations by state the numbers are generally in millions. I then don't quite focus too much on tens of thousands. 650,000 was a nice round figure in my mind. At the same time, population data are estimates and were taken from the middle of the year. Whereas the used fuel data is from the end of the year and is also rounded.

If I were writing a report I would be specific. But since this dialogue is only in a comment string, I don't feel the need to be exactly dead on with estimates.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …