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Nuclear Waste Disposal: Exit Yucca Mountain, Enter Illinois?

Storage Options Limited as National Geologic Repository Is Withdrawn

By Dave Levitan

Mar 18, 2010

Another option with spent fuel is reprocessing, where the fuel’s components are separated and can be reused, or, as is the major point of contention with this technology, used in nuclear weapons. Several attempts have been made with reprocessing technologies in the US in the past without success. In Europe, several sites are operating, but sites in France and the United Kingdom have been plagued by problems including radioactive discharges that .

“Reprocessing is a filthy technology, despite what anybody says,” Kraft said. He also hypothesized that the Illinois Senate vote could be a “backdoor attempt” to let General Electric build an experimental type of reprocessing reactor called a pyroprocessing plant. Under the 1987 moratorium, construction of such a plant would not be allowed.

“Illinois has got enough nuclear plants and enough nuclear waste, and we don’t need any more,” Kraft said.

If the Yucca Mountain shutdown goes as planned, nuclear waste will stay on-site for the foreseeable future. And at least for the moment, Kraft doesn’t think any push to use Illinois as a dumping ground will gain traction. He said the bill that passed 40-1 in the state Senate will likely stall in the House, or at worst with the Governor.

O’Connell stressed that there was no good reason given to shutter Yucca Mountain. “In the request to withdraw there was very skimpy reference to why,” he said. “It was only that the Secretary of Energy has decided that a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain is not a workable option.” Instead of closing it for good, he said, continuing to evaluate the 8,000-plus-page application submitted regarding Yucca Mountain in 2008 provides the best road forward.

“We want that process to continue, we think it is worth doing,” he said. Kraft, along with nuclear opponents around the country, thinks otherwise: the best solution to dealing with nuclear waste is to not produce any.


See also:

Where Is Nuclear Power Really Heading?

Nuclear Energy – White Knight or Dangerous Fantasy?

Uranium in the Grand Canyon: USGS Report Examines Impacts of Mining


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Reason for DOE License Application

The DOE does not own Yucca Mountain. The Western Shoshone paople do. See the Nevada Organizing Act provision: "no portion of Indian country to be included in the boundaries or jurisdiction of any state or territory..." See the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Western Shoshone allied itself with the North and thereby preserved the Union. That is our contention at the NRCASLBPCAB.

My country is not, and has never been part of the US. We do not consent and object to to the use or inclusion of any part of our country to be included into the boundaries of the US.


Letter to the Editor
On February 23rd and 26th, 2010, the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects website reported the following: Hanford, Washington area businesses, Aiken County, South Carolina, and the Tri-City State of Washington leaders officially filed lawsuits against President Obama and Secretary of Energy Chu for scrapping plans to build the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) Nuclear Waste Facility in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C. The S.C. the lawsuit is seeking to stay the removal of the Yucca Mountain License Application. The Aiken County lawsuit alleged that withdrawal of the license application violated the Nuclear Waste Act of 1982 and its Amendments. Additionally, it may also violate the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969.
The Tri-city lawsuit stated that the termination of the YMP license application could pose health risks to their community. My contention is that the Department of Energy - Yucca Mountain Project license application is incomplete since it failed to address health and safety risk issues associated with metals and radionuclide exposure through groundwater as is mandated under the NEPA Act and its subsequent regulations. The NEPA Act clearly mandated regulatory agencies to prepare a detailed statement on significant environmental impact (EIS) of major federal actions, and to include reasonable alternative actions.
Next, a YMP official in the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2004 stated that “to calculate health risks from the combined effects of heavy metals and radioactive materials when there is no requirement to do so would be ‘like challenging the speed limit.’”
The DOE position is in conflict with the NEPA Acts of 1969 since DOE failed to properly discuss the potential/probable significant environmental impact of radionuclide and heavy metals on the human environment in the EIS. In addition, the 40 Code of Federal Regulation 1502.22, “Cumulative Effects,” stated that “when an agency is evaluating reasonably and foreseeable significant adverse effects on the human environment in the environmental impact statement and there is incomplete information, the agency shall always make it clear that such information is lacking.”
Furthermore, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a letter dated March 30, 2009 stated that with regards to my concerns about interaction between chemicals and radionuclides at Yucca Mountain, “the DOE’s EIS the NRC staff agree that analysis did not provide an adequate discussion of the cumulative amounts of radiological and non-radiological contaminated that may enter groundwater over time, this contaminated would behave in the aquifer and related environment. We have found that this failure to adequately characterize potential contaminates releases to the groundwater and surface discharge renders that the portion of the EIS is inadequate. DOE’s discussion of these impacts in the EIS’s is not consistence with the NRC’s regulations for completeness and adequacy of discussion of environmental consequences of proposed action.” The importance of this letter that is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission directed the YMP to submit a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement “to ensure that the 2002 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Supplement EIS are adequate.”
The DOE is required to comply with regulations, Section 10 CFR 63.10 (a) and (b), which require the DOE to submit a complete and accurate license application; and Section 63.10 b) which requires the DOE to report any significant implications for public health and safety. The DOE license application failed to notify the Commission of information that the applicant or licensee has identified as having a significant implication for public safety.
Therefore, it is my opinion that the President of United States and the Secretary of Energy are within their rights to withdraw the license application as incomplete.

Dr. Jacob D Paz

Nuclear waste win/win/win

The problems of spent nuclear fuel (SNF); heat, ionizing radiation and radiolysis, which breaks down water into ions corrosive to fuel bundles and their containers are all facilitators of unconventional oil production.

Hydrogen released by the process of radiolysis and the heat generated by SNF within an oil sands formation overturn the equilibrium of the system and contribute both to the in situ cracking and mobilization of the resource, while the high-energy flux of SNF ionizes and fractures (upgrades) a portion of the long chain bitumen in the ground.

Then energy return on investment for the SAGD method to produce Alberta's oil sands. is 5.2/1. Therefore it costs about $15 to produce a barrel of oil burning natural gas to produce the steam required and significant quantities of CO2 are produced in the process.

SNF can produce the temperatures required to lower the viscosity of the bitumen sufficiently to allow it to flow to a producing well without producing CO2. The use of SNF in this manner is not less than any other geothermal energy process.

The global inventory of SNF could produce close to 6 billion barrels of bitumen a year and once this resource was depleted there is nothing to stop the recovery of the SNF for recycling. In fact it can be burned again in a CANDU as is.

Capitalizing on the back end of the fuel cycle in this manner addresses both of the other drawbacks to nuclear power. It offsets the high front end cost of reactors and prevents access to the plutonium contained in SNF. It other words the Nuclear Assisted Hydrocarbon Production Method is a win/win/win.

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