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  • No Yucca Mountain, No Nuclear Energy in Utah

    yucca_mtn090213.jpg

    Nuclear energy provides the United States with 20 percent of its electricity, but none to Utah. If the state legislature gets their wish, it could stay that way for the Beehive State:

    Lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill in the Utah House that would effectively stop any nuclear power plant from setting up in the state.

    The measure would prevent nuclear power plants from operating in Utah unless there is a federally licensed facility with adequate capacity available to dispose of any high-level radioactive waste.

    The proposed Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada has a capacity limit that is already too low to handle the material expected to be generated by the country’s 104 commercial reactors before they are shut down.

    Unless Congress removes the 77,000-ton limit on Yucca Mountain, it would have to approve a search for a second repository to handle future waste.”

    Currently, there is a proposal to build two 1,500-megawatt reactors in Green River that would provide the state clean and secure energy while adding diversity to the state’s energy portfolio. The fact that Yucca Mountain is not open should not bar any state from building new nuclear plants – we have 104 reactors operating in the U.S. that are safely storing their used nuclear fuel on site.

    But there is a larger issue at hand here. We do have a problem managing nuclear waste in this country.

    The issues surrounding opening Yucca Mountain are purely politically and not one bit technical. Yucca Mountain has been a political boondoggle for decades. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 set January 31, 1998, as the deadline for the federal government to begin receiving used fuel. Its inability to fulfill this legal obligation has resulted in millions of dollars in taxpayer liability. This will grow into the billions before long. Furthermore, Congress set Yucca Mountain’s statutory limit when, in fact, it could hold 120,000 tons of used nuclear fuel or more. Yet, even with a 120,000 ton limit, if nuclear power production increased by 1.8 percent annually after 2010, Yucca would be full by 2030.

    The best way to fix the problem of nuclear waste is to get it out of the government’s hands. A free-market approach to managing nuclear waste, with proper government oversight, is the way to ensure that the commercial nuclear industry will be sustainable in the long run.

    Heritage nuclear expert Jack Spencer details the federal government’s mismanagement of waste and offers market solutions here. It won’t be easy. But if we’re serious about meeting energy demands and environmental goals, it is without a doubt necessary.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to No Yucca Mountain, No Nuclear Energy in Utah

    1. davelv, las vegas says:

      Utah and every other state needs nuclear electricity just like France already has. Write your congressmen and the President to insist that Yucca Mountain be completed as quickly as it can. Does anyone really think that the desert next to where 1000 nuclear bombs were exploded is not the right place to put nuclear waste? This is not screw-Nevada, but screw America if it isn't built.

    2. frank, raleigh says:

      Not to mention, that we the people have already paid for the Yucca Mountain depositiory through fees (taxes) in our power bils over the past couple of decades.

    3. DFK, Ohio says:

      The Utah Bill is just dumb. First, reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods must be approved as part of the needed expansion of nuclear power in the United States. Spent fuel rods still have about 95% of their nuclear fuel unused. New technology makes this possible and it has been used safely in France for over 25 years. This process reduces the amount of nuclear waste by a tremendous amount. We badly need nuclear electrical power and to ban using oil or natural gas (our most efficient forms of energy) to generate electrical power (our most inefficient form of large scale energy).

    4. Impeach Harry Reid, says:

      We need to campaign against Reid's fear mongering insanity that has this state completely hoodwinked.

      Dirty Harry has done NOTHING to help the Nevada economy and now he's trying to kill a $100 Billion income stream from the Yucca Mountain Project; some thousands of jobs now and in the future; the only job in Nevada for highly educated, highly trained workers; and put enough homes on the market in Summerlin to quickly turn it into Slummerlin…

      If the public was properly informed about the Yucca Mountain Project, I'm sure more and more people would be for it. Let's put it on a Ballot for a vote!

      Reid should have worked with the Government to make Yucca an advanced center for Nuclear Power, Nuclear Waste, Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing, and even solar and wind farms.

      But no, the monster ego of this truly little man is single handedly destroying Nevada while he lines his pockets from his shady dealings…

      And then there's his infuriating recent commercial… Every word of it is a lie as he tries to gain your vote once again….

      Just say "NO" to Harry in 2010 !!!!!

    5. Brian O'Connell says:

      Got coal?

    6. Ken says:

      Power it with Thorium, it could be used to burn down waste Plutonium while creating far less long term waste for storage. The whole Yucca Mt issue is actually here due to a misguided 1970's executive order banning re-processing. A LWR reactor burning a seed and blanket Thorium core derives a sizable fraction of its thermal output from the plutonium driver in the seed. The seed is exchanged every three years after 2/3rds of its plutonium has been burned up, driving a breeder reaction in the blanket to produce fresh fuel and the remainder of the power output. The seed can be removed, cooled and re-precessed, the blanket stays in the reactor for a decade producing its power and at the end it contains half the transuranic load of current low enriched uranium rods after irradiation. Eventually, it can be reprocessed to retrieve its freshly produced Uranium233. In total, taken into account the destruction of Plutonium in the seed, there is little if any net production of waste in such a reactor, which is very close to commercialization. In the 1990's megatons to megawatts program we spent millions developing this design under a grant to a private company that did most of its research in Russia in order to give former Soviet scientist something to keep them busy so that they won't ply their trade in more nefarious pursuits. Now we should use it.

    7. Ken says:

      Brian O'Connell writes:

      "Got coal?"

      They have it in Tennessee:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/0902

      Coal emits radiation and heavy metals. 40% of the mercury pollution on the planet today is due to coal. "Clean coal" transfer this pollution to the ground, and the article above shows that you have only transferred the problem. Nuclear waste is containable. The entire output from the US nuclear industry could fit in a football field if stacked 10 feet high. The waste is largely in the form of intact fuel assemblies that can be packaged in a way that no one can ever get to them, unlike coal emissions that are sent to rivers, farms and oceans, where the mercury will hang around, cycling through the biosphere for hundreds if not thousands of years. People are afraid of getting on planes but not walking across busy intersections, smoking cigarettes or driving cars. They are afraid of nuclear power, but not coal based electricity. Beam me up Scottie, no intelligent life here.

    8. William D (Bill) Pet says:

      300-YR PERMANENT DISPOSAL OF SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

      Our Response to your Ten Laboratory Combined Request

      ref: AUGUST 2008 DOE JOINT REPORT

      "A Sustainable Energy Future, The Essential Role of Nuclear Energy"

      Steven Chu, Director LBNL

      Berkeley Nat’l Laboratory

      c/o Patty, Fax No. (510) 486-6720

      You asked for a solution, here it is. We have developed what we call the 300-year permanent Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) disposal solution. SNF can be permanently disposed of in 300-years. The 97% part of it that is potential fuel is not wasted. SNF needs not be geologically buried for 10,000 to a million years.

      After 5 years of water storage, SNF is moved to our 300-year type of convective air cooled, dry, intermediate storage. Our design is 12 feet subsurface and very secure. At some point out in time, the SNF is taken to a reprocessing facility and is processed by our 5-9s specification, that is 99.999% of the transuranics is separated from the fission wastes. After being separated the components are dealt with separately.

      After 300 years the radioactivity of the 3% that is fission waste has reduced to a point that it qualifies as low level waste Class-C and by that specification is considered disposed of. Further storage for 500 more years would make the fission wastes low level Class A. At any time the 1% transuranics containing the plutonium is used up in new fuel. The 96% part of SNF that is U-238 uranium is simply stock piled for future use as fuel. This is doable. The process is highly technical. INL and Argonne nuclear chemists have demonstrated 5-9s separation. This can be our nation’s way to “fix” SNF for the global nuclear energy partnership (GNEP), which the U.S. can do to for the whole world. Ref: U.S. Patent Application No. 10/736,858 – 12/16/2003 and No. 11/899,209. Two more applications pending.

      William D. Peterson, MS-ME,MS-MEA, January 16, 2009

      President, CEO, 300-Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal Corporation

      413 Vine, Clearfield, Utah 84015

      Tel 801-825-3123, Email paengineers@juno.com

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