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Dreaming About a Repository–Take 2

hanford2Monday, I wrote that that several Republican Presidential candidates did not support reactivating the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository on states rights grounds. But the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, for one, held used nuclear fuel that clearly fell outside the purview of its state – because it derived from defense uses.

Here’s another:

Taxpayers have already spent billions to develop the [Yucca Mountain] site as a safe depository for nuclear waste.

We all have an interest because the worst of the nuclear waste cleanup at Hanford, Wash., is or was scheduled to be stored there. The storage is needed by about 2015, when a new plant will begin producing glass pucks of nuclear waste as a way to drain 177 storage tanks of highly toxic material.

This is from the Daily Astorian in Washington state. The Hanford Site was created by the federal government in the early 40s as part of the Manhattan Project. Its reactors (used to generate materials for defense) were decommissioned after the end of the cold war. Hanford also houses the Columbia Generating Station and the Pacific Northwest National Labs. You can read more about Hanford here.

The high-level used fuel being held at Hanford was intended for Yucca Mountain and, as with the Savannah River Site, the federal government is unambiguously responsible for it, not the state that hosts the site.

Yucca needs to be opened. One can only hope politics will move on after the general election and this nuclear waste site will become operational. It is currently the country’s best and only option for long-term nuclear waste storage.

As always, a few swallows on the window ledge don’t equal springtime, but there is a surprising lot of interest lately in reviving Yucca Mountain and concomitant annoyance at the present administration and some of the Republican candidates for keeping it closed. The Blue Ribbon Commission’s final report may set a course that satisfies a large contingent or at least refocuses the conversation – it really couldn’t come soon enough (it’s due at the end of January.)

An aerial view of Hanford.

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