Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Love from the L.A. Times

lat_logo_inner Here’s what you get for patting yourself on the back too much, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times:

When it comes to highly radioactive nuclear waste, pretty much everybody is a NIMBY. Setting aside the fact that scientists have yet to develop the technology to safely store this waste for the thousands of years it takes to decay, there's the fact that it has to be transported to the disposal site -- mostly by train -- creating the opportunity for spills. Even if the nuclear dump isn't in your backyard, the train tracks might be, and the closer you live to the center of it all, the greater the danger. Little wonder that Nevadans aren't excited by the prospect of a glow-in-the-dark desert.

Ulp! We’d note that nuclear “waste” moves around on trains now without spilling. It’s not put in open barrels, after all. See here for more.

Pro-nuclear activists, whose ranks are growing as the nation looks for non-carbon-emitting sources of energy, needn't fret too much about Obama's proposal, which tables but doesn't end the debate about Yucca Mountain. Yet the move probably would delay some pending applications for construction of nuclear plants, and may even stop some. That's all for the good. Nuclear power is much too risky and expensive to be seen as a reasonable solution to climate change.

We haven’t seen any signs of plants being delayed, but it could of course happen.

We generally think of the L.A. Times as being a fairly conservative paper for its location, so this surprised us a bit. California is next to Nevada, so maybe they have some NIMBY issues of their own. Or maybe they just think what they think.

It would’ve been nice to get a clean sweep of major newspaper editorials on the Yucca Mountain decision and since we suggested that happened, it wouldn’t be honest to let this one slide by. To quote W.C. Fields, Drat!


Marcel F. Williams said...

There are a lot of good scientific solutions for the relatively tiny amount of waste produced at US nuclear reactor sites. I of course prefer reprocessing the spent fuel in order to generate more clean energy.

But the LA Times seems a bit arrogant, IMO, to be in a State that not only produces its own nuclear electricity but also imports even more nuclear electricity from Arizona:-)

Jason Ribeiro said...

You may not get love from the LA Times, but the latest Gallop poll shows the public warming up to nuclear energy more and more.

The LA Times article sounds just like the many canned anti-nuclear posts we all see pasted onto anything nuclear on the web.

They do make a noteworthy point with the statement:

"If we can't dump the waste in a nuclear test zone, where can we? That, in a nutshell, is the problem with nuclear power."

Anytime a "nutshell" statement is false, we should all pay attention. The antis still want to frame the waste problem around nuclear's neck, whether Yucca sinks or floats. The more education the public gets surrounding nuclear by-products the better. The antis can be allowed to frame the non-issue as an issue.

Anonymous said...

This is just speculation but I think in the near future there will be some way to deactivate the non-usable radioactive waste.

I'm just speculating but is it possible speed up the decay rate with anti-pions?

Adam said...

Most research efforts to alter the time-frame of radioactive decay have been through transmutation, principally by neutron irradiation. This method is particularly attractive because we already have large sources of neutrons (ie reactors) which already generate useful products (eg electricity, heat, medical isotopes). An accelerator, on the other hand, would perhaps introduce a great deal more expense, which is a tough sell given how comparatively cheap it is to do short-term storage.

I suppose we could destroy waste using anti-particles as well, but again we lack a large, cheap source of such material.