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  • Obama’s Transparency on Science Doesn’t Include Nuclear

    Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology released a comprehensive report that details the Obama Administration’s attempt to prematurely and unnecessarily shut down the used nuclear fuel repository at Yucca Mountain. The report demonstrates that issues surrounding opening Yucca Mountain are purely political and not one bit scientific and technical.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the report is the information revealed from Volume III of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Safety Evaluation Report (SER), which was obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request from The Heritage Foundation. The committee’s press release highlights that:

    SER Volume III demonstrates in excruciating detail the level of technical support among NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) experts in favor of the site’s advancement. Overall, the NRC staff review concluded that DOE’s Yucca Mountain License Application complies with applicable NRC safety requirements necessary for the site to proceed to licensing for construction.

    Another extremely discomforting story in the Yucca debate is that in an Environment and Economy Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Energy’s Role in managing nuclear waste, “witnesses revealed that Energy Secretary Steven Chu simply ignored the technical components of the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository when withdrawing the project’s license application.”

    During the 2007 primaries, then-candidate Barack Obama said this about the nuclear waste repository Yucca Mountain: “Well, as I’ve said, I don’t think it’s fair to send it to Nevada.… because we’re producing it. So what we have to do is we’ve got to develop the storage capacity based on sound science.” He followed through when he became President by zeroing out funding for Yucca Mountain—funding that comes from American nuclear ratepayers.

    In March 2009, President Obama released a White House memo stressing that “the public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions.”

    These two statements are wildly inconsistent. The science clearly demonstrates that Yucca Mountain is adequate for that purpose.

    Regardless of whether we build new nuclear reactors or reprocess spent nuclear fuel, in every scenario, the Yucca Mountain repository is critical to the long-term success of nuclear power in the United States. The reality is that some of the byproducts of nuclear fission will last a long time. Therefore, the U.S. needs a place where it can be safely stored and remain under the control of an enduring institution like the U.S. government after the facility is closed.

    Although Yucca Mountain alone is not the solution to America’s nuclear waste management problems, it is a critical part of the solution. It would allow the U.S. to transition to a system where there is a market for waste management services. Heritage Research Fellow Jack Spencer recently testified on this very issue:

    The primary goal of any strategy for used-fuel management should be to provide a disposition pathway for all of America’s nuclear waste. The basic problem with the current system is that every nuclear power plant needs a place to put its waste, and Yucca Mountain is potentially not big enough to hold it all under the current used-fuel management regime.

    In other words, permanent geologic storage capacity is a scarce resource on which the industry depends. If used-fuel management were a market-based system, this storage capacity would carry a very high value. A new system should price geologic storage as a scarce resource and fold any costs into a fee for emplacing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.

    This would allow nuclear waste producers to take into account the cost of geologic storage and incentivize different waste management mechanisms, whether building a reprocessing plant or building a new reactor technology with a less costly waste stream. Even with a new system in place, a geologic repository is essential. Given the certitude that Yucca Mountain is a sound repository scientifically and technologically, there is no reason for the Obama Administration to close Yucca. The committee’s report strongly reaffirms this.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Obama’s Transparency on Science Doesn’t Include Nuclear

    1. Jim Raleigh, North L says:

      Jaczko Needs To Go!!!! What the administration is doing to the Yucca Mountain Project is completely corrupt!!!

      Dirty Harry "The War is Lost" Reid planted Gregory Jaczko (his former Science Advisor and he also worked for anti-nuke Ed Markey) on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (after holding up ~100 Bush appointees until Bush was forced to cave) and then pushed for him to be the Chairman of the NRC under Obama SPECIFICALLY so he could derail the NRC Review of the YMP License Application from the inside.

      In addition, he got Steven Chu to flip-flop his position on the YMP (after signing with the other National Lab Leads that the YMR was the path to pursue) in order to gain appointment to the Secretary of Energy job (… So much for "Sound Science"…). Further, the sitting NRC Commissioners all had to agree not to challenge DOE's pulling of the License Application during their confirmation hearings in order to be confirmed.

      All of these players and obstructionists are in violation of the LAW!!! Reid, Waxman, Jaczko, Chu, Berkley, Heller ALL need to be thrown out of their jobs… I’d even go further and have them arrested for violating FEDERAL LAW.

      Further, the ongoing BRC effort is just one big stall tactic!!! Otherwise, the BRC members would have been permitted to include the Yucca Mountain Repository in their evaluation. I also do not buy into the allegation that the people of Nevada do not want the repository. Informal polls show 70 percent of Nevadans to be in favor of the state negotiating with the federal government to ascertain our safety concerns and determine what benefits might be available.

      The NRC needs to be forced to release an unredacted version of the Post-Closure Safety Evaluation Report (SER Vol. 3) to the public so the people know what is going on… BTW — Ask yourself this: Why would a redacted version of the Safety Evaluation Report be issued in the first place if it agreed with Harry Reid's position??? It wouldn't!!!! If the NRC's safety determination supported this administration's desire to shutdown the Yucca Mountain Project, they would be beating that drum like crazy!!!

      In watching the hearing last week, Lyons (DOE) came off as an in-the-tank political hack and Bizerkley looked and acted like a deranged, incompetent, lunatic spewing nothing but misinformation about the project, which I'm sure the Subcommittee members saw right through… I pray she lays down on the railway tracks as promised!!!

      I should add that as a former NRC Licensing Project Manager, I believe Jaczko's actions are completely destroying the NRC's credibility and reputation as a non-partisan regulator…

    2. Phil, USA, GA says:

      There is another way out that is being ignored by the administration: LFTR. A LFTR would burn the transuranics in the current waste and we wouldn't need a Yucca mountain. The non-transuranic waste is basically down to background radiation in about 300 years.

      Summary: http://goo.gl/uCCd3
      Slides: http://goo.gl/aDJ5v
      Google talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgKfS74hVvQ
      Safety discussion: http://energyfromthorium.com/2006/10/27/molten-sa

      Walk-away safe, cheaper than coal, unlimited pollution free electrical power would fundamentally change whole economy.

    3. cliff-c florida says:

      My concerns are that the industry has become a monoply and all involved have disallowed competion to provide newer, better and safer technology to be put into use. Thorium reactors for example do not utilize fuel rods. Their operation is much safer and do not pose any of the waste or threats that the current designs do.Why are overseas countries developing this technology and not the US?

      A review of the NRC website shows little mention or support for this reactor development- All current discussion and support is directed at a single reactor supplier that has modestly improved on the current reactor technology and continues with a single reactor design that utilizes much of their old design. It appears that persuit of other technology is currently not acceptable because its not American. Nor is the mainfacture of fuel rods offered any competion,as they continue to process fuel rods for the current reactors which end up being less than half spent then placed in cooling ponds and stored for eternity..Other countries reprocess their spent rods thus reducing the waste buildup.

      If the American nuclear industry is to survive it must embrace innovation not stagnation

      Moreover I believe the comments that the NRC is: political, overly influenced by plant owners and the industry , lax in their licensing methods and overall strict controls, is placing the American public at severe risk. This must stop! Inapprotiate NRC practices must not be allowed to continue until a Fukishima accident happens in this country before corrective action is taken to resolve safety and control functions that must be the prime and only goal of the NRC Without interferrences.

    4. Jim Raleigh, North L says:

      What the administration is doing to the Yucca Mountain Project is completely corrupt!!!

      Dirty Harry "The War is Lost" Reid planted Gregory Jaczko (his former Science Advisor and he also worked for anti-nuke Ed Markey) on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (after holding up ~100 Bush appointees until Bush was forced to cave) and then pushed for him to be the Chairman of the NRC under Obama SPECIFICALLY so he could derail the NRC Review of the YMP License Application from the inside.

      In addition, he got Steven Chu to flip-flop his position on the YMP (after signing with the other National Lab Leads that the YMR was the path to pursue) in order to gain appointment to the Secretary of Energy job (… So much for "Sound Science"…). Further, the sitting NRC Commissioners all had to agree not to challenge DOE's pulling of the License Application during their confirmation hearings in order to be confirmed.

      All of these players and obstructionists are in violation of the LAW!!! Reid, Waxman, Jaczko, Chu, Berkley, Heller ALL need to be thrown out of their jobs… I’d even go further and have them arrested for violating FEDERAL LAW.

    5. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    6. Luehring, Rio Rancho says:

      I agree, Jaczko is a Harry Reid stooge. Reid agreed to let the DOE spend billions on the Yucca project and then cut if off when competed. There is another , even cheaper, place to store this material at the NTS where is is easily recoverable in the event that the US ever decides to reprocess these fuel rods. I outlined this to Chu/Domenici with nary a response. Seems like anything associated with the NTS for disposal is off-limits.

    7. Tim Az says:

      I have a solution. Send the nuclear waste to Chicago. I have no doubt they would open up some waste easies to sell these used nuclear rods to Iran and other countries that would send them back to the U.S. by way of express delivery in the form of care packages. After all it's the Chicago way isn't it? Had enough yet?

    8. randydutton says:

      As the managing editor of Sierra Magazine (Sierra Club) once said "We will not print any story that will make nuclear power look positive". Thatk in response to an article written about nuclear vitrification, which they commissioned but wouldn't print, is the attitude of Progressives.

    9. randydutton says:

      2012 you can turn this around. Put conservatives in charge of the Senate and White House and a common sense nuclear policy will return. And I don't mean RINOs.

    10. Pingback: House and Senate Cloakroom: June 13-17, 2011 | The Conservative Papers

    11. Pingback: House and Senate Cloakroom: June 13-17, 2011 | The Foundry

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