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(Wall Street Journal)   US high-level nuclear waste continues to be stored in temporary above-ground casks, which are temporary much the way your brother-in-law sleeping in the guest room is temporary   (online.wsj.com ) divider line
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2905 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Jun 2010 at 4:34 AM (6 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-06-01 09:27:13 PM  
A little too close to home, subby.

/a little too close to home.
 
2010-06-01 09:29:49 PM  
Oh good, I'm SOOOO glad we abandoned Yucca Mountain.
 
2010-06-01 10:29:23 PM  
Yes, because a permanent solution is out of the question for the econuts.
 
2010-06-01 11:04:04 PM  
Asa Phelps: Yes, because a permanent solution is out of the question for the econuts.

Actually it's out of the question mostly due to crazy anti-nuke activists. They're mostly old hippies and will die soon.

\I should know
\\My parents are both anti-nuclear-waste-recycling
 
2010-06-01 11:08:46 PM  

Asa Phelps: Yes, because a permanent solution is out of the question for the econuts.


They want to use it as a wedge to stop nuke plants altogether.
 
2010-06-01 11:16:57 PM  
Here's the really stupid part.

Most of our reactors were constructed for the purpose of producing fissile material for the nuclear arms race. This was no secret, but at the time, information didn't get around as easily as it does now.

If you were anti-nuclear-war, that meant that you were anti-nuclear-power. There were no two ways about it - all of our commercial nuclear power plants in the early days were designed and built to make material for bombs.

England, France, South Africa, and North Korea all did the same thing, and we accuse Iran of having the same idea.

But arguing against national defense is always a weak position in political debate in the US.

So, much the same way that tree-huggers pretend to want to save the spotted owls when what they really want to save is the wilderness, the anti-nuclear-bombs movement had to shape their argument as an anti-nuclear-pollution argument.

The accidents at 3 mile island and chernobyl cemented the situation, and many of the current followers of the anti-nuclear-power line are unaware that it started out as an anti-nuclear-bombs ruse.

We can build better nuclear power reactors than the ones we built 40 years ago. But nobody will let that happen.
 
2010-06-01 11:39:37 PM  
One part of the solution, reprocess the waste. Get all the useful stuff, uranium, plutonium and thorium out of it. Then use that for nuclear fuel. You'll also get some other useful stuff out of it. All told, you won't have that much waste.
 
2010-06-02 12:03:49 AM  

Asa Phelps: Here's the really stupid part.

Most of our reactors were constructed for the purpose of producing fissile material for the nuclear arms race. This was no secret, but at the time, information didn't get around as easily as it does now.

If you were anti-nuclear-war, that meant that you were anti-nuclear-power. There were no two ways about it - all of our commercial nuclear power plants in the early days were designed and built to make material for bombs.

England, France, South Africa, and North Korea all did the same thing, and we accuse Iran of having the same idea.

But arguing against national defense is always a weak position in political debate in the US.

So, much the same way that tree-huggers pretend to want to save the spotted owls when what they really want to save is the wilderness, the anti-nuclear-bombs movement had to shape their argument as an anti-nuclear-pollution argument.

The accidents at 3 mile island and chernobyl cemented the situation, and many of the current followers of the anti-nuclear-power line are unaware that it started out as an anti-nuclear-bombs ruse.

We can build better nuclear power reactors than the ones we built 40 years ago. But nobody will let that happen.


Wow, I sorta thought every one knew it was mostly about the weapons side of the equation. Of course there is the anti corporate side coming up such as with BP. It becomes not can Nuke plants be run safely but will they be, and for how long?
Also what happens when they need to be decommissioned due to age?

I know we need to us this source for our future and am not against it. I would like us to do it right though.

/Sorry TL/DR
 
2010-06-02 01:36:39 AM  
High level nuclear wastes exists. There is a lot of it. Tons and tons. There is no way of disposing of it in a safe way. High level nuclear waste has a half life of about 2 million years. Or something like that.

The Yucca Mountain project has been canceled. But some ideas were proposed about how to warn people to stay the hell away from a place which is extremely radioactive.

Here's one. http://www.mosaicsphere.com/proposals_images/yucca/
 
2010-06-02 03:00:01 AM  
Why don't we just make bombs?
 
2010-06-02 03:59:18 AM  
Sun God: But some ideas were proposed about how to warn people to stay the hell away from a place which is extremely radioactive.

I remember reading about that. I thought it was counter-intuitive to make big elaborate warnings because that's exactly what would make people curious. There's a reason that people have been digging inside the pyramids of Egypt for millenia and it's because they're basically signs saying look under here!

My warning sign for the radioactive vault would be a simple weathered "sewage overflow containment area" because nobody would want to fark with that.
 
2010-06-02 04:41:27 AM  
The Capitol building gives off more radiation than these nuclear dumps.
 
2010-06-02 04:41:56 AM  
Yucca
 
2010-06-02 04:44:31 AM  
I'm still not sure why we don't build one big secret breeder reactor somewhere and consume all this stuff as we produce it. Drop the half life to thousands of years from millions.
 
2010-06-02 04:50:28 AM  
Hey, my brother-in-law is just going through a hard time. He's gonna get back on his feet any day now. It's only been 10 months.
 
2010-06-02 04:56:13 AM  

eddyatwork: Sun God: But some ideas were proposed about how to warn people to stay the hell away from a place which is extremely radioactive.

I remember reading about that. I thought it was counter-intuitive to make big elaborate warnings because that's exactly what would make people curious. There's a reason that people have been digging inside the pyramids of Egypt for millenia and it's because they're basically signs saying look under here!

My warning sign for the radioactive vault would be a simple weathered "sewage overflow containment area" because nobody would want to fark with that.


The question is how to you leave a notice like that when we don't know what that group of individuals (assuming there are any) will utilize. Written words or symbols may not be understood or missinterpreted. The idea of multiple languages saying the same thing is probably the best one so hopefully they can use them to interpret what is being said much like the Rosetta Stone did for our understanding of the Egyptians.

It is a very difficult issue, especially given whatever waste site is adopted will probably look very enticing to future individuals. A very sturdy structure deep underground and heavily fortified to last a long time has to protect something valuable in the minds of most people. I mean if you saw something like that today, don't you think scientists would be digging away to find out what an artificial structure like that was doing deep underground?

Ultimately we need a secure storage site for our waste. It is a shame Yucca Mountian was torpedoed as that appeared to be the best suited site we are going to find in the US (low water table, seismically and volcanically stable, far from population but close to transportaion). We can reduce the levels with a breeder reactor, but even that has unusable byproducts that must be delt with. The sooner we become serious about a solution, the better so nuclear power can become more of a provider of our electrical needs to reduce CO2 (regardless if your feelings on global warming, transitioning from the fossil fuels will need to happen).
 
2010-06-02 04:59:13 AM  
Why can't we all just roll around in it a 'lil bit so everybody gets super powers?
 
2010-06-02 04:59:31 AM  
I don't like NIMBYs. I am an IMBY. Not only would I not mind if nuclear power plants were built in my area, I insist that should be.
 
2010-06-02 04:59:37 AM  
Why can't we just send it all to New Jersey?
 
2010-06-02 05:01:00 AM  
I am not advocating shipping this junk off into space just any old where but, and please tell me if I am way off base here, why cant we pull a Superman IV and toss the stuff into the Sun?

Not a scientist so there is more than likely a very valid reason. I just don't know what it is and would like to.
 
2010-06-02 05:02:42 AM  
I still can't believe we're not allowed to use this stuff to generate more electricity because Jimmy Carter said so. Come on, I was born during his administration, there's been multiple two term presidents since then, there's been plenty of time to undo this.
 
2010-06-02 05:03:37 AM  
images.nymag.com
/hot, like MLP
 
2010-06-02 05:03:52 AM  

draaga: I am not advocating shipping this junk off into space just any old where but, and please tell me if I am way off base here, why cant we pull a Superman IV and toss the stuff into the Sun?

Not a scientist so there is more than likely a very valid reason. I just don't know what it is and would like to.


If the rocket accidentally detonates in the atmosphere, you spread a cloud of nuclear fallout over the whole eastern seaboard. Which, granted, big whoop...but there are voters there, so no one will go for it.
 
2010-06-02 05:08:04 AM  

yarnothuntin: Why can't we all just roll around in it a 'lil bit so everybody gets super powers?


What in God's name were you trying to prove?

I was trying to gain superpowers.

That's just silly.

Silly, yes. Idiotic, yes.

...
 
2010-06-02 05:08:50 AM  

Daedalus27: eddyatwork: Sun God: But some ideas were proposed about how to warn people to stay the hell away from a place which is extremely radioactive.


They worry way too much about that and I think it is mostly a smoke screen from the people who oppose it. After all, the only way it becomes problematic is if more or less all humans die off. So long as humans are around, communication isn't a problem. Ok well if humans do die off then still probably not a problem, as advanced organic life is unlikely to evolve in that short a time.

Just post warnings in multiple languages and pictorial warnings and call it good. In the highly, highly, unlikely event it gets encountered by someone in the distant future that doesn't know what it means and doesn't take the time to find out, well the explorers will die. The species will presumably then figure out it is dangerous and either avoid it, or figure out now to deal with it.

The anti-nuke types need to just STFU. We need to finish YM, move our waste there, and start replacing the reactors with newer, better, cleaner ones.
 
2010-06-02 05:08:53 AM  

draaga: I am not advocating shipping this junk off into space just any old where but, and please tell me if I am way off base here, why cant we pull a Superman IV and toss the stuff into the Sun?

Not a scientist so there is more than likely a very valid reason. I just don't know what it is and would like to.


If we get an absolutely safe method to lift it to orbit, sure, thats a solution. Maybe when we get a space elevator, we can use that to get it up. However as was said earlier, strapping a dirty bomb to a large explosive device and hoping it works is not a safe and reliable disposal method.
 
2010-06-02 05:22:07 AM  
There is a better place to put all that waste, and it's deep in the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario. You can't really go wrong with one of the oldest, most seismically stable parts of the planet when it comes to this sh*t.

Politically impossible, but as far as keeping the waste contained, gold f*cking star.
 
2010-06-02 05:23:23 AM  
Ok, you both had a very valid point thank you. I wasn't even thinking of the damn spacecraft blowing up as an issue I was concentrating on once it was out in space if there were any drawbacks, but yeah that could suck if it pulled a Challenger.
 
2010-06-02 05:24:59 AM  
Yucca Mountain was a stupid idea from the start. The DOE knew it wouldn't be big enough for all the waste, and it would end up an environmental disaster.

Yes, I know someone who worked the project for the DOE. He even said it wouldn't work, years before they officially abandoned it.
 
2010-06-02 06:00:55 AM  
It's still better then the waste living in a van down by the river.
 
2010-06-02 06:03:53 AM  
Set up a reprocessing plant in Texas. If anything goes wrong, it wont really matter. It should be an easy sell. The star-shaped radioactive crater could serve as a buffer against immigrants that all the xenophones hate, and we are out one problematic state.

Oh yea, and it's in the middle of everything. For security purposes, something farther inland would make better sense, but I'm kinda hoping for the crater.
 
2010-06-02 06:22:28 AM  
Here in Chicagoland, we have a disused reactor sitting on the lake. They used to run it a coupla days a year, to avoid its mandated removal. Its reactor vessel was made from pieces of hardened steel welded together. The hardeners in the steel are now really radioactive, and nobody knows how to get rid of these things.
People who want to build more reactors before answering the issues posed by the prior ones seem to all be of the same bent. They presume all (engineering) problems have solutions, which only need to be uncovered. Hydroelectric is awful, as is the usual answer, burning coal. There is a rarely used coal-fired peaker plant that is used on really hot days in (the neighborhood of) Pilsen. Can't be good for people.

The Soviets have pioneered a method of waste disposal called 'putting the crap on a boat and dumping it in the North Sea.' Sorta works, but not as well as originally hoped. The only way we have to produce macroscopic amounts of electrical energy somewhat cleanly is to use methane as a fuel, but this is only used for peaking, due to supply issues.

Perhaps, we need to discourage population growth until some sort of solution arises. I wouldn't hold my breath for clean boron-boron fusion plants to come on line.
 
2010-06-02 06:25:34 AM  

FredPhelp'slovechild: Hey, my brother-in-law is just going through a hard time. He's gonna get back on his feet any day now. It's only been 10 months.


Mine left after a couple years. Subby's analogy is flawed.
 
2010-06-02 06:29:47 AM  
As a glow worm working at one of the plants with this problem, I'm really getting a kick...
 
2010-06-02 06:29:51 AM  

mentaluproar: Set up a reprocessing plant in Texas. If anything goes wrong, it wont really matter. It should be an easy sell. The star-shaped radioactive crater could serve as a buffer against immigrants that all the xenophones hate, and we are out one problematic state.

Oh yea, and it's in the middle of everything. For security purposes, something farther inland would make better sense, but I'm kinda hoping for the crater.


A xenophone is probably someone who talks like an alien. I expect those wouldn't be popular with non-immigrants either.
 
2010-06-02 07:00:19 AM  
Some good storage options developing in the Gulf of Mexico..
 
2010-06-02 07:06:06 AM  

signaljammer: Here in Chicagoland, we have a disused reactor sitting on the lake. They used to run it a coupla days a year, to avoid its mandated removal. Its reactor vessel was made from pieces of hardened steel welded together. The hardeners in the steel are now really radioactive, and nobody knows how to get rid of these things.


The one in Zion? They're waiting until after the 2nd unit's license expires in 2013 to start tearing it down and decontaminating it. It's only been closed for 12 years or so, have a little patience LOL.
 
2010-06-02 07:11:28 AM  

signaljammer:
Perhaps, we need to discourage population growth until some sort of solution arises. I wouldn't hold my breath for clean boron-boron fusion plants to come on line.


Agreed. However, the logistics of such an operation would be mind boggling. We could politely ask people to stop popping out kids (would never happen) or we could try to put a law on the books limiting every couple to 1 kid (like in China, where it doesn't work well at all). The other options include "crimes against humanity" such as infanticide, genocide (actually I don't know the proper term, genocide is directed at specific genes this would be random [in theory] population reduction of the violent sort), or mass forced sterilization.

To be honest when the world population gets to a certain point we will be producing too much waste and pollutants to recover from and we will make the planet uninhabitable for us as well as most other higher life forms. Of course there will be wars for land and resources too as there is only so much to go around.

/Not that any of this matters. I'll be dead by then.
//Amiright?
 
2010-06-02 07:47:53 AM  

Animatronik: mentaluproar: Set up a reprocessing plant in Texas. If anything goes wrong, it wont really matter. It should be an easy sell. The star-shaped radioactive crater could serve as a buffer against immigrants that all the xenophones hate, and we are out one problematic state.

Oh yea, and it's in the middle of everything. For security purposes, something farther inland would make better sense, but I'm kinda hoping for the crater.

A xenophone is probably someone who talks like an alien. I expect those wouldn't be popular with non-immigrants either.


I thought that was a xenuphone?

/Window seat, please, preferably first-class if it's available.

That aside, I feel like quite honestly people really don't understand the nature of Chernobyl as well as they should. The reason Chernobyl failed was because the reactor was not built up to proper code and had corners cut. History tells us what happens when you cut corners, I'm looking at you Transocean.

I like the idea of nuclear energy, it's cheap and efficient, plus the sterilization from fallout is an added bonus in keeping the population in check. Quite honestly, it's like a win-win situation. Also, around Yucca mountain, I'd let Darwinism play it's role, once again, population control.

Maybe I'm just that cynical...
Nah!
 
2010-06-02 07:52:39 AM  

draaga: I am not advocating shipping this junk off into space just any old where but, and please tell me if I am way off base here, why cant we pull a Superman IV and toss the stuff into the Sun?

Not a scientist so there is more than likely a very valid reason. I just don't know what it is and would like to.


With LEO launch costs from $2K-14K/pound (sorry but I couldn't find the solar orbit figures), that's an expensive proposition. Plus, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near a failed launch.
 
2010-06-02 08:07:28 AM  
YAY for closing Yucca mountain! Thanks Reid, thanks special interests.
 
2010-06-02 08:34:10 AM  

Dianetics for Dummies: That aside, I feel like quite honestly people really don't understand the nature of Chernobyl as well as they should. The reason Chernobyl failed was because the reactor was not built up to proper code and had corners cut. History tells us what happens when you cut corners, I'm looking at you Transocean.


I would think Transocean and Chernobyl would teach you another lesson from history:

People cut corners. Even when it seems foolishly and staggeringly dangerous to do so.

Asa Phelps: We can build better nuclear power reactors than the ones we built 40 years ago. But nobody will let that happen.


Sure. But that doesn't really address the issues brought out in this article.

Daedalus27: Ultimately we need a secure storage site for our waste. It is a shame Yucca Mountian was torpedoed as that appeared to be the best suited site we are going to find in the US (low water table, seismically and volcanically stable, far from population but close to transportaion). We can reduce the levels with a breeder reactor, but even that has unusable byproducts that must be delt with. The sooner we become serious about a solution, the better so nuclear power can become more of a provider of our electrical needs to reduce CO2 (regardless if your feelings on global warming, transitioning from the fossil fuels will need to happen).


Nuclear power is just about one of the least effective means we have to reduce CO2 emissions, on a cost per avoided ton basis.

i47.tinypic.com
 
2010-06-02 08:56:59 AM  
Nuke! Baby! Nuke!
 
2010-06-02 09:17:59 AM  
Why dont they just put all of it in old 1950s refrigerators ?
 
2010-06-02 09:31:54 AM  
At least it's not temporary the way copyright is temporary (life of the author + 75 years).

Asa Phelps: Here's the really stupid part.

Most of our reactors were constructed for the purpose of producing fissile material for the nuclear arms race. This was no secret, but at the time, information didn't get around as easily as it does now.

We can build better nuclear power reactors than the ones we built 40 years ago. But nobody will let that happen.


Power reactors do convert uranium into plutonium. But because the fuel pellets get left in the reactor for so long, nearly all of the usable uranium and plutonium gets burned up. There is supposed to be work going on to design Generation 4 reactors so maybe we'll get something nice like walk-away-safe, thorium reactors that environmentalists will allow to be built without too big a fight.

WhyteRaven74: One part of the solution, reprocess the waste.


Two problems: 1. You end up with lots more atomic bomb making material which the US agreed not to make more of. 2. The toxic chemicals used to process waste now become insanely radioactive, toxic chemicals, making more radioactive waste.

Incontinent_dog_and_monkey_rodeo: I'm still not sure why we don't build one big secret breeder reactor somewhere and consume all this stuff as we produce it.


We tried to built a breeder reactor 30 miles from Los Angeles, CA it melted down. We tried to build a breeder reactor half way between Toledo, OH and Detroit, MI, it melted down. We tried to build a breeder reactor in Hanford, WA and it worked really well but didn't do anything other than cost $30,000,000 a year to just sit there with the engine idling. The foundation for a brand new breeder reactor was laid at Oak Ridge, TN and construction was all ready to go when the price of fossil fuels fell, the budget needed to be cut and Congress got pissed off that since the 1940s the breeder reactor program had apparently gone nowhere. Japan has a breeder reactor that lost coolant and caught fire in 1994. Four weeks ago they finally got it running again.
 
2010-06-02 09:43:19 AM  

leegalizit: signaljammer:
Perhaps, we need to discourage population growth until some sort of solution arises. I wouldn't hold my breath for clean boron-boron fusion plants to come on line.

Agreed. However, the logistics of such an operation would be mind boggling. We could politely ask people to stop popping out kids (would never happen) or we could try to put a law on the books limiting every couple to 1 kid (like in China, where it doesn't work well at all). The other options include "crimes against humanity" such as infanticide, genocide (actually I don't know the proper term, genocide is directed at specific genes this would be random [in theory] population reduction of the violent sort)


The word you are looking for is 'democide'.

You couldn't impliment a "one child" policy in the United States without starting a shooting war, because it would involve going significantly against public opinion, not to mention you'll have to perform forced abortions to enforce it.

People in the US don't take kindly to those who try to kill their kids.
 
2010-06-02 10:07:19 AM  
Asa Phelps [TotalFark] 2010-06-01 11:16:57 PM
Here's the really stupid part.

Most of our reactors were constructed for the purpose of producing fissile material for the nuclear arms race. This was no secret, but at the time, information didn't get around as easily as it does now.


I have to attribute the above to drugs.
 
2010-06-02 10:09:16 AM  

turtleking: Why dont they just put all of it in old 1950s refrigerators ?


too soon...
Why!? Why did they do that to Indy? Why?!
 
2010-06-02 10:12:02 AM  
Years ago I was talking about nuclear waste with my dad - I forget how it came up: just go with it. He went to the corner of the living room where there was a large globe. He pulled it off its base, turned Antarctica to the view, and pointed to the big hole where the South Pole should be. "Why not just put it there?"

/Now, who could argue with that?
//You're welcome. Glad I could help.
 
2010-06-02 10:17:40 AM  

draaga: I am not advocating shipping this junk off into space just any old where but, and please tell me if I am way off base here, why cant we pull a Superman IV and toss the stuff into the Sun?


I wish it were that easy but even if the rocket didn't blow up it costs tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per pound to send something into space and we've got who knows how many hundreds of tons of waste to get rid of.

SandmanEatsYourBrain: There is a better place to put all that waste, and it's deep in the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario. You can't really go wrong with one of the oldest, most seismically stable parts of the planet when it comes to this sh*t.


They were going to put the waste in a salt mine in New Mexico where the salt hadn't been disturbed by water or earthquakes for thirty million years. Then someone started saying how they didn't want their state (NM) to be America's nuclear landfill and the project was canceled.

TheFarkinEmpress: Yucca Mountain was a stupid idea from the start. The DOE knew it wouldn't be big enough for all the waste, and it would end up an environmental disaster.


What Yucca Mountain had going for it was it's part of what used to be called the Nevada Test Site were they blew up all those atomic bombs in the 1950s. Lots of atomic bombs were blown up inside Yucca Mountain so as long as it was isolated and full of radioactivity anyway no one could complain, right?

mentaluproar: Set up a reprocessing plant in Texas.
[...]
The star-shaped radioactive crater...


Funny you should mention that. There's a atomic bomb reprocessing plant in Texas called Pantex. Working there must be terrifying. Each atomic bomb disassembly room is in a basement with a giant hill of sand above it and a fairly weak roof. If the conventional, high explosives in the bomb go off while you're taking it apart, the roof is designed to collapse and bury what's left of you under tons of sand.

Arcturus72: As a glow worm working at one of the plants with this problem, I'm really getting a kick...


Want to tell us which plant or what your job involves or any crazy nuclear stories you've heard? I'd love to hear it!!

leegalizit: To be honest when the world population gets to a certain point we will be producing too much waste and pollutants to recover from and we will make the planet uninhabitable for us as well as most other higher life forms.


I wouldn't worry about that too much. We should run out of oil and uranium at just about the same time, 70 or 80 years from now. Even better, without oil we won't have plastics or the fertilizer we need to make our food grow. Good luck sleeping tonight.
 
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