Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

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 …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…