This administration claims to promote nuclear power; yet it closed the Yucca repository for long term storage of nuclear waste.
Secretary Chu said, for the administration, “Nuclear energy is an important contributor to our nation’s energy security, and promotes clean-energy jobs.”
Then why did the administration close Yucca Mountain after all the time, money, and effort spent on designating it as the best location for long-term storage of nuclear waste?
The government spent, over roughly 30 years after passing the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, an estimated $15 billion to select, designate, and prepare Yucca Mountain for long-term storage of waste. Utilities paid the government approximately $32 billion for developing Yucca Mountain. Should they get their money back? The current balance is $28 billion.
Now, the Department of Energy has the temerity to present a new proposal that will almost assuredly achieve nothing.
If it took thirty years to select Yucca Mountain, with opposition from many communities identified as potential sites, why will it now be possible to select a new site in ten or fifteen years? Initially, DOE will select an interim site, design, obtain licenses, and build a pilot interim storage facility by 2021.
For a long-term site in a satisfactory geologic location, DOE will select a site by 2026 and have it completed, ready to accept waste by 2048.
DOE is developing a “consent based process” for selecting the site.
Imagine the thousands of screaming people who will object to any location being suggested for long-term storage.
Powerful environmental organizations are against nuclear power, and one approach to killing nuclear power is to prevent storage of waste.
Hanford may be a suitable interim storage site, since it is a government facility and the people of Washington State won’t have very much to say about using it for interim storage. There already are large amounts of nuclear waste, primarily from weapons, at the site.
The new proposal is the outgrowth of a Blue Ribbon Commission established after closing Yucca Mountain. The composition of the commission was impressive; and they also discussed reprocessing nuclear waste, but that went nowhere.
But, before anything can happen, Congress must agree to the strategy and appropriate the necessary funds.
On one hand, the administration says it supports nuclear power; on the other, it killed Yucca Mountain.
Thirty years and $15 billion wasted.
Read more of Donn’s columns at his blog, Power for USA.
Photo credit: Paul J Everett (Creative Commons)