It’s been evident for a while that Yucca Mountain was history after it was announced that it’s funding was eliminated by President Obama. ENR is reporting that the USDOE is officially withdrawing its Nuclear Regulatory Commission application for a waste-storage facility although it sounds like they are a little unsure about how to do that. Reportedly, more than $38 billion has been spend on research and construction at the site over the last couple decades. According to ENR, the temporary storage costs of storing spent nuclear fuel could reach $10 to $26 billion in the next 100 years if a permanent storage site is not found. It looks like we will be dealing with indefinite “temporary” storage of nuclear waste for probably our lifetime.
A pilot study is about to be undertaken by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to study the possibility of CO2 sequestration in deep basalt formations throughout the West and Northwest. The study will involve injecting 3,000 to 5,000 tons of liquid CO2 at a depth of between 3,000 and 4,000-ft. The team hopes that mineralization will gradually transform the CO2 and basalt into limestone. The total cost of the pilot study is approximately $10 million and is funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Thanks to Harold at the Ontario-geofish blog, I came accross this AP article that releases the first Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository cost estimate update since 2001. The US DOE now puts the cost of the facility at $90 billion, up $32 billion from that 2001 estimate. Of course that estimate is slightly deceptive. It covers the $9 billion already spent and 100 years of operation. Perhaps the bigger issue is funding has not been secured largely in part to the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-NV). If a steady stream of money can be secured, the best case scenario for the facility is a 2020 opening.
I also found a neat blog called Yucca Facts that has a refreshing perspective on the facility that is pro-science if not necessarily pro-Yucca. They also have a commentary about this latest DOE announcement and some commentary on Senator Reid.