Skip to main content

The Obama Budget and Yucca Mountain

The Obama Budget and Yucca MountainThere's quite a spirited debate going on at WSJ's Environmental Capital about the proposed defunding of Yucca Mountain in President Obama's budget plan. NEI's Scott Peterson notes in the comments,
This is an opportune time to re-evaluate America’s policy on managing commercial reactor fuel.

Given the clear need for expansion of nuclear energy (more than 70% of U.S. carbon-free electricity production comes from nuclear power) , the Obama administration and Congress should revisit the decision to use a once-through fuel cycle and instead pursue uranium recycling as part of an integrated approach includes at-reactor storage, private sector or government-owned centralized storage, and continued development and licensing of a federal repository.

Given the legal obligation that the government has to fulfill its responsibility under that law, the industry believes the NRC’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application should continue. In parallel, the administration should convene an independent panel of the best scientific, environmental, engineering and public policy leaders to fully investigate the critical issues and make a recommendation to President Obama and Congress on how best to proceed with managing used nuclear fuel.

Centralized storage is a strategic bridge in the uranium fuel management process that would also provide storage for reactor fuel from power plants that have been shut down. The federal government should collaborate with the private sector and other countries on a research and development and demonstration program to recycle reactor fuel in a way that is safe, environmentally acceptable, enhances the worldwide nonproliferation regime and makes sense economically. Other countries are looking at recycling as part of their used nuclear fuel management program and the United States should be constructively engaged in this technology development.

Through recycling, we can reclaim and reuse a significant amount of energy that remains in uranium fuel and reduce the heat, volume and toxicity of radioactive byproducts that ultimately will be placed in a repository.


The Federal government should give states that are currently producing or storing spent fuel, the option of allowing the Federal government to set up centralized Federal Nuplexes within these states to store, reprocess, and to utilize spent fuel for energy production.

This would not only dramatically reduce the volume of nuclear waste but would also produce clean energy and jobs within each state where such a facility was set up.

The Nuplex Solution
charles said…
"give states... the option... to set up centralized"

Really? Having each state create their own repositories does not centralize anything. Yucca Mountain was proposed to take all wastes from all states to be the central repository. Either it happens or it doesn't. In my opinion, the Yucca Mountain Project should be localized (used as a repository for local states) and used as a way to research the (1) validity of having geological repositories and (2) success/risks of nuclear waste transport to a repository. Obama's budget to cut serious funding may be a viable solution to getting this done since it's already taken 3 decades to build not much of anything. Just my thought.

With your blog, I believe that you have very interesting goals. Either way, you will still have radioactive wastes as a byproduct or recycling, and will still need a way to dispose of that material. Without having any research on a geological repository, and having no other way to store the unusable wastes, you still have a problem of dealing with radioactive wastes. Your goals are also very theoretical, and obvious to do, but will take many more years to implement. With the amount of research already done with the Yucca Mountain Site, and with continued site specific research, having the possibility of the Yucca Mountain repository would serve as a secondary and currently approachable solution to the problem of radioactive nuclear wastes.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.

Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…