Thursday, April 15, 2010
A fly in the nuclear ointment
As I posted the other day the new policy on about Obama wanting to take all the weapons grade nuclear material thereby taking it out of the hands of terrorists. This would be a great and admirable undertaking had it not been for a couple of things. You will note the pretty mountain photo above. That would be Yucca mountain about 90 miles from Las Vegas. This was the designated place where we were going to store all these nasties. Locations were studied and in 1987 this was the chosen location. Twenty one years and $9 billion later Yucca is at present off the table or maybe just in limbo. First it was Nevadans who had fought the project from the get go saying that since there were no nuclear plants in their state why should they be the dumping ground. What they failed to remember was that Yucca mountain is located right near the place where there were some 900 atomic tests in the 40s and 50s. Obama announced last year that Yucca would not be used and with Harry Reid the Nevada senator having fought against the project as well all is stopped. Or is it? Two things have happened since. First Obama gave his recent speech about wanting the worlds' weapons grade nuclear waste which is something of a puzzle when you stop to consider that we have no repository now. There was no back up plan to Yucca that I can find. The other issue is that Washington state was wanting a permanent place to store its' weapons grade waste Hanford where they made the material in the 40s was never set up for permanent storage and is so contaminated it will take billions more just to contain what's there, so they are suing the feds. And now South Carolina with its' Savannah River nuclear weapons complex is also suing because they had the same idea.
There are at present some 107 nuclear plants around the country with waste. They are at present storing that waste on site in large heavily reinforced casks.
There have been many delays including the studies and final method of transporting the waste safely from all over the country by rail and truck. They don't expect that Yucca can be operational until 2020 and to top that off we have no reprocessing facility. With all this money spent you question whether it's prudent to stop and change the whole method of energy production or continue with this very expensive proposition. Remember this stuff has to be stored safely for one million years. Now you understand why I'm against nuclear power.