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.
As the U.S. continues to fight over hurdles for its Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository, Finland is on track to become the first country with a permanent storage facility for spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Their Onkalo tunnel, on the western coast of Finland will eventually stretch for 5-km (2-miles) and reach a depth of 500-m (1,600-ft) in solid granite bedrock. Once at depth a grid of horizontal tunnels will be constructed. Vertical storage holes will be excavated in these horizontal shafts, and the spent rods, encased in steel cannisters with copper corrosion protection, will be placed on layers of bentonite clay. The clay will cushion the cannisters and protect them against long term geologic movement. The clay also serves as a barrier to water, swelling in its presence to seal off any cracks or conduits for water that could potentially transport nuclear contamination in the distant future if the primary measures of protection are compromised. The tunnels will eventually be backfilled with bentonite and rock. The facility is projected to open in approximately 15 years at a cost of about 3 billion euros. The projected life of the facility is through 2100. Links after the break. (Illustration by BBC)