Time for a nuclear bailout in America?

Time for a nuclear bailout in America?

Summary: A private waste management company (dump operator for those not into politically laundered engineering terms) has refused to accept soil that is radioactive. So now Boeing and NASA will have to look elsewhere for a solution to their pollution.

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A private waste management company (dump operator for those not into politically laundered engineering terms) has refused to accept soil that is radioactive. So now Boeing and NASA will have to look elsewhere for a solution to their pollution. The landfill is the largest in the western U.S. and is NOT licensed to handle radioactive material.

The waste itself comes from clean-up of a partial nuclear meltdown that happened near Los Angeles fifty years ago.

Further north the feds are working to discover what interesting things lie buried at a nuclear disposal site near Hanford, WA. Exploration right now is by ground-penetrating radar and by lowering radiation sensors into newly drilled shafts. Records for what was dumped underground at this specific site were destroyed in the 1990s.

Hanford was where plutonium was made for many of America's nuclear weapons. Shutting down and cleaning up the Hanford site has been a huge undertaking. Over fifty buildings there have been taken down. A huge factory to treat nuclear waste is about half done. All the remedial work at Hanford is being funded by federal stimulus money approved a year ago.

Currently there is only limited weapon-grade plutonium production in the U.S. and it's all at the Savannah River plant in South Carolina.

These nuc waste problems underline the political and environmental burden carried by the nuclear industry that is still hoping for a revival in the U.S. However, I recently blogged about all the money going from the federal government to the American nuclear industry this year. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website sounds positively positive about new nucs actually being built in the U.S. for the first time in decades. Here's a map of where those plants would be built, if approved and funded: Courtesy NRC.

Nuclear power can seem seductive if you are concerned over greenhouse gases and global warming. Over a year ago greentech conferences were discussing nucs as a response to global warming. At least one American firm, Hyperion, is touting home nuclear plants for home power. Here's the Hyperion website. Hyperion is VC-backed and does not yet have a unit ready for delivery. How great will it be to see billions go into America's nuclear power industry? [poll id="211"]

France is the most nuclear-powered nation on earth, getting much of its electricity from nuclear plants. Here's a description of how they handle their nuclear waste. For over a decade France has been researching a deep underground disposal site for long-lived waste.

Topics: CXO, Government, Government US

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9 comments
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  • There is no current U.S. Plutonium Production

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113223613&ft=1&f=1026

    Which really puts NASA in a bind, as it is necessary for deep space probes (yup, it's used for more than bombs).

    You mis-read the Wikipedia source (the "active" doesn't mean "producing").

    As for the waste, it's illegal right now to reprocess waste, unlike in France, and that's, well moronic. Thank you very much anti-nuke people.

    As for the waste improperly disposed of, that is a legacy that is not unique to the Nuclear industry. I don't see how past dumping has any relation to future activies any more than Sherwin Williams is affected by what happened in Ashland MA.

    Here's a list of superfund sites in my state, Massachusetts:
    http://www.cqs.com/super_ma.htm

    It ain't pretty.

    But nuclear power is still our only option for the future. When oil runs short, and you need 20 or 30 billion KWh of electricity (the current 4 billion plus extra guesstimate for heating and transportation) you're only going to get that from nuclear, and no other source.
    Takalok
    • Completely Wrong

      "But nuclear power is still our only option for the
      future. When oil runs short, and you need 20 or 30
      billion KWh of electricity (the current 4 billion plus
      extra guesstimate for heating and transportation)
      you're only going to get that from nuclear, and no
      other source."

      Concentrating Solar Power Plants.

      They're going up all over the world, and have been
      running for decades in Kramer's Junction California,
      etc, etc.

      It's tiresome to hear pro-nuke enthusiasts dismiss
      everything else.

      All we need to have power 24/7 is to store the hot oil
      from the solar plant in thermal tanks... as it stands, the
      power plants run several hours past sundown off the
      hot oil.

      Just expand the storage tanks and put up more
      mirrors. More heat will last all night and even cover
      the rare cloudy day in Phoenix.

      We need a better electrical backbone to ship that power
      to Maine, but that's not difficult.

      Building, and insuring, a nuclear plant definitely is
      DIFFICULT.
      Jkirk3279
      • JKirk3279:

        I suggest that you do a little reading. A simple Google search with terms "solar power per acre" yielded this little tidbit:
        http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1077581/solar_power_not_the_brightest_idea/index.html

        Seeing that the United States has approximately 1.9 billion acres,(Wikipedia) at the MAXIMUM efficiency of solar power of 48 kwh/acre, divided by 2 (nighttime, you know), yields approximately 4.5 billion m/wh. Sounds like a lot until you consider that the US [i]currently[/i] uses 3.8 billion m/wh per year.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption
        In other words, to generate enough solar power to run the US at [b]today's[/b] consumption, you would have to blanket about 2/3 of the US in solar power sites.
        Let's get real, please.
        justanitguy
  • We need to tell these companies that they cannot limit what they take

    Unless they do it BEFORE the agreements to clean up after organizations are signed. Then, they can limit ALL THEY FRIGGING WELL WANT, but not unless they do that.
    Lerianis10
  • Ah, the modus operandi of government

    screw it up, then claim to be the one with the fix.
    frgough
  • seductive?

    "Nuclear power can seem seductive if you are concerned over greenhouse gases and global warming." Logical nonsense!
    Nuclear power can be a useful method of cost-effective diversification when implemented correctly.
    You don't have to be a fully paid-up tree-hugger to see that.
    Agnostic_OS
    • Environmentalist urge a return to living in thatched huts.

      Seriously.

      Coal of any type is bad (I partially agree on this):
      http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46967/story.ht
      m

      Gas and Diesel are evil and should be stopped:
      http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/environmentalists-
      rachet-up-campaign-against-oil-sands/
      And a billion others.

      Solar, god forbid:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/21/feinstein-seeks-to-
      block-_n_177646.html

      How about wind?:
      http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1258373/environmentalists_
      appear_to_be_winds_biggest_enemy/

      Hydro-power, that is what they want? Nope:
      http://www.cuyahogariver.net/Gorge%20Dam%20Page.htm

      Personally, I have no issue living under the shadow of a modern Nuke.
      We need solar power. It will destroy some desert lands but it is a
      better alternative. We need wind. It will kill some birds but less than
      the alternatives. We need tidal and wave. We need coal and NG as
      well.
      Bruizer
      • Right on Dude!

        When I saw this post I couldn't stop laughing.
        Yes we have environmentalists that seem to want to push us back into the stone age or further. Some even seem to want to eliminate people alltogether.
        Thank you for your post and for your very catchy subject line.
        sysop-dr
  • Scratch Turkey Point from that list..

    FPL just halted all activies for that site, yeah.
    http://www.fpl.com/news/2010/011310.shtml


    It doesn't help that projected sea level increase now indicates that the site will become submerged sometime before the end of it's useful lifespan.

    http://www.e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2230
    14 Jan 2010
    How High Will Seas Rise? Get Ready for Seven Feet

    It also doesn't help that most of it's customer base will be also underwater.

    All of Monroe(Key's), Dade(Miami), Broward(ft lauderdale), and most of Palm beach county will become new tidelands. Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Worth, will be useful as boat morings(anchor points). Florida's underlying porus coral reefs makes it impossible to protect these areas from increasing sea levels.
    thetruth_z