Rockman's Ramblings

Indefinite “Temporary” Nuclear Waste Storage and the Need for Nuclear Power

image Since the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository has gotten the axe from President Obama, nuclear power plants around the country are faced with the prospect of virtually indefinite "temporary" storage of their nuclear waste in the form of spent fuel rods. The US Department of Energy has a legal obligation to find a permanent disposal facility for the spent fuel, and the agreements currently in place presumed that Yucca Mountain would be accepting nuclear waste by 2025 which clearly won’t happen. (Photo of dry cask temporary storage method for spent nuclear fuel from Connecticut Yankee). More after the break. […]

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository Schematic Drawing by US Nuclear Regulatory Comission
Project Related

Yucca Mountain Solution for Nevada’s Budget Deficit?

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository Schematic Drawing by US Nuclear Regulatory ComissionThe Center for Yucca Facts has presented a letter to the chairman of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE) of the State of Nevada recommending that an objective look at the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository might show that it provides a solution to Nevada’s budgetary dilemmas. More after the break.


Available Resources

Yucca Mountain – $32 Billion More

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.


Press Releases

Yucca Mountain Moving Forward

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission – No. 08-106 – June 3, 2008


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission received an application today from the U.S. Department of Energy for a license to construct the nation’s first geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

“We are ready to get to work on this challenging review,” said NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein. “Congress has given the NRC a strict timetable for reviewing this application, and I want to assure the American people that we will perform an independent, rigorous and thorough examination to determine whether the repository can safely house the nation’s high-level waste. The NRC’s licensing decision will be based entirely on the technical merits.” [Editor] Read on for the rest of the press release [/Editor]




Finland’s Nuclear Waste Storage Plans

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)  


Geologic Hazards

USDOE Problems With [Not] Storing Nuclear Waste

More problems for the US Department of Energy related to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. The New York Times is reporting that the DOE is already 10 years behind in a commitment made to Power Companies to store their nuclear waste, and according to the DOE, it will likely be at least another 10 years before they are able to begin accepting waste for permanent storage. Who cares you ask? Well, the US has already payed out $342 million in 60 lawsuits filed by utility companies, and that total could reach $11 billion according to government estimates or $35 billion according to industry estimates before Yucca Mountain finaly opens and begins accepting waste. Source: New York Times by way of Ontario-geofish.



Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Case Versus DOE Thrown Out

The State of Nevada lost a major battle in their attempt to block the US Department of Energy’s attempt at licensing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The panel of judges in the case threw it out after a week of oral arguments by the State. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Judge’s  ruling stated "Nevada’s legal position is incorrect."