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USA’s nuclear wastes continue to pile up, mainly in cooling ponds

There is about 70,000 tons of spent fuel stored at reactor sites around the country. Three-quarters of the material sits in cooling pools.

While Nuclear Waste Piles up in U.S., Billions in Fund to Handle It Sit Unused,  ProPublica, by Joaquin SapienProPublica, March 30, 2011 “……In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and the federal government effectively struck a deal with the nuclear industry: Reactor operators and their customers would pay a tax on the waste they produced, and the government would use the money to create a safe place to store it for generations.

The idea at the time was to build a repository inside volcanic rock on Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. That plan proved to be wildly controversial and was eventually abandoned by the Obama administration in 2010. After 29 years, there are billions of dollars in the fund and no plan for the waste.
To compound the problem, the 1982 law only allows the money to be spent on a permanent solution,…….

Department of Energy statistics show that new lawsuits and other costs could eventually push the government’s legal liability to $16.2 billion.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who opposes storing waste at Yucca Mountain in his home state, introduced legislation in 2007 [4] to amend the law so the fund could be used for interim waste storage. But the bill never came to the floor for a vote……

There is about 70,000 tons of spent fuel stored at reactor sites around the country. Three-quarters of the material sits in cooling pools. Reactor operators have been re-racking the rods so they can fit more of them in the pools — a practice that makes the pools more radioactive and potentially more dangerous in the event of an accident.

The pools in the United States have been criticized by nuclear industry watchdogs who say they are too crowded and in some cases have been known to leak low levels of radioactive water

Some reactor operators have begun building large tomb-like structures called dry casks to contain the waste after the rods have cooled for five years or more in the pools. The dry casks are considered a safer way to store the rods.

But the industry has been reluctant to use dry casks on a large scale because it’s extremely expensive to transfer the radioactive rods. A 2003 study [7] by a former Energy Department official and a team of nuclear experts concluded it would cost at least $3.5 billion to move all rods that had been in pools for over five years….

While Nuclear Waste Piles up in U.S., Billions in Fund to Handle It Sit Unused – ProPublica

 

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March 31, 2011 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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