Popular Posts

Monday, 11 July 2011

Nuclear waste: Back to Yucca Mountain?

By Steve Hargreaves @CNNMoney July 11, 2011: 1:29 PM ET

Some lawmakers and the nuclear industry want President Obama to reconsider the now-shut Nevada nuclear waste facility, seen here. Others say it's a terrible spot and should remain shut.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- There are 65,000 tons of radioactive waste sitting at nuclear power plants close to major cities around the country.
The government and the industry say it's safe where it is for the time being. But in the age of terrorism and tsunami-ravaged nuke plants, many have their doubts.
By law the government is supposed to take this waste and store it permanently deep underground. It's been collecting money through fees on electricity bills for this purpose since 1983 and should have begun disposal in 1998.
But it hasn't.
Thanks to a slew of legal and technical challenges, the government's once-chosen site -- Nevada's Yucca Mountain -- remains a half-built, $15 billion empty hole in the ground.
Many say the inability to deal with nuclear waste long term isn't just a security threat, it also hobbles domestic energy production.
Lack of a repository, they say, is part of what prevents utilities from building more nuclear plants. Some say carbon free-electricity from nuclear power is essential in the fight against global warming.
How close is your home to a nuclear power plant?
Yet shortly after taking office the Obama administration, a staunch supporter of nuclear power, scrapped Yucca Mountain permanently and formed a commission to find a new location.
Now a group of Congressmen, backed by the nuclear industry, is trying to reverse that decision.
The case for Yucca Mountain:
Located in the middle of the desert a hundred miles northwest of Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain seems like the ideal spot for a nuclear waste repository.
There's no one around. The mountain sits at the intersection of three pieces of federal property: a rarely-used Bureau of Land Management parcel; an Air Force gunnery range; and an old Energy Department testing ground for atomic weapons.
Supporters say it's dry enough to store waste, it's relatively earthquake free, and the old volcanoes nearby aren't a threat.
"I challenge anyone to find a better site," said Steven Kraft, director of special projects at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's policy arm. "No site is perfect, but almost all the things that make for a good repository, Yucca has."

No comments:

Post a Comment