Skip to main content

The Hidden Cost of Yucca, The States of Nuclear

In the Congressional hearing report a few posts down, several House members turned the heat up on four NRC commissioners (including Chairman Gregory Jaczko) over the commission’s decision – or action, as it hasn’t technically made a decision yet - to not review the license for the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository.

So a report from the Government Accounting Office acts only to pour both salt and lemon on the wound:

The U.S. government could face fines of $75,000 a day if it fails to find a way to store or handle stockpiles of defense-related nuclear waste by 2035, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Because Yucca Mountain was meant to harbor this material, too. 

In government terms, $75,000 may sound paltry. It adds up:

If the Energy Department does not find a way to remove the waste by then, it could face "significant penalties," GAO says: $60,000 a day for the remains in Idaho and $15,000 a day for remains in Colorado - or $27.4 million annually.

That’s not so paltry.

The decision to halt work on the repository does seem to have required more thought than it received, but who knows? Maybe the Blue Ribbon Commission will come up with some better ideas.

See the story for more on all this – the account from Dow Jones is quite interesting. You can find the whole GAO report here.


We can’t say that two swallows make a spring – but neither do they bring on winter.

Here’s one:

Missouri House members have endorsed a proposal to let utilities charge electric customers for some costs of developing a nuclear power plant before it's built.

The House voted 121-21 Thursday to add the nuclear plant issue to a separate bill, which wasn't put to a final vote. The legislative session ends May 13.

Not bad – let’s see how this works out.

And two:

The top Senate Republican says the Minnesota Legislature likely won't vote this year on a bill to lift a ban on new nuclear power plants.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told reporters Thursday that the bill is "on pause" after passing both chambers in February.

The tell:

The nuclear crisis in Japan also didn't help its prospects.

Says the reporter. This bit wasn’t sourced. In any event, passing this bill wouldn’t have guaranteed a new plant, just allowed the state to consider nuclear among its energy options. Whether or not Fukushima weighed in, seems silly to exclude nuclear from the mix.

Motto: Can’t win ‘em all. Though you can keep trying – I wager this bill will be back in the next session of Minnesota’s legislature.


Iowa voted a couple of weeks ago to allow MidAmerican to charge ratepayers the cost of studying a new reactor in that state. The value of doing this is that it saves the utility from borrowing money – with the (considerable) finance charges paid by ratepayers. This way, none of that.

At least, that’s what I thought the charges were for. Instead, MidAmerican apparently wants to move right ahead with two small reactors:

If approved, it would clear the way for MidAmerican Energy, the state's largest utility, to begin billing customers in advance for the estimated $1 billion cost of developing one or more small modular nuclear reactors that could be on line as early as 2020.

This is a bit of a puzzle, as no design for a small reactor has been licensed by the NRC yet. It might happen in time to get the Iowa reactors up and running by 2020, but it seems a big “might.” I wonder if Forbes has this right. We’ll check into this and report back.

We sometimes show a picture of an African or Asian city at night to show why the country that houses it is considering nuclear energy. Doesn’t seem fair to ignore the North American continent. So - here’s Minneapolis – not enjoying the possibility of a new nuclear plant.


DocForesight said…
That glow you see in the background of the Minneapolis skyline is the Aurora Borealis - kind of - as Minneapolis isn't at the end of the world, but you can see it from there.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

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: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…