Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nuclear Waste Solution?

[Excerpted] The bad news is that she considers the industry’s evaluation of earthquake vulnerability — an issue that was once believed to be settled when a nuclear power plant was licensed — to be inadequate.

Allison M. Macfarlane, the first geologist to serve on the commission, which regulates power plants and the civilian use of radioactive materials, arrives at a time when geology has moved to the center of the industry’s concerns...

Majia here: The article states that the "good news" is that she sees the problem of nuclear waste as resolvable.

Apparently she is not well educated on the scope or costs associated with this problem. She should read this essay by Robert Alvarez:

Fixing America's Nuclear Waste Storage Problem by Robert Alvarez June 20, 2011. The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/161500/fixing-americas-nuclear-waste-storage-problem#

[Excerpted] American reactors have generated about 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, of which 75 percent is stored in pools, according to Nuclear Energy Institute data. No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production.

Nearly 40 percent of the radioactivity in US spent fuel is cesium-137. The 4.5 billion curies of radioactive cesium-137 in US spent reactor fuel is roughly twenty times more than what was released by all worldwide atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. 

American spent fuel pools hold about fifteen to thirty times more cesium-137 than the 1986 Chernobyl accident released....

Even though they contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet, US spent nuclear fuel pools are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to merely protect them against the elements. Some are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships.... 

...The United States has thirty-one boiling water reactors with pools elevated several stories above ground, similar to those at Dai-Ichi. As in Japan, all spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants do not have steel-lined, concrete barriers that cover reactor vessels to prevent the escape of radioactivity. They are not required to have back-up generators to keep used fuel rods cool if offsite power is lost....

...In other words, storing the entire nation’s spent fuel in one place would be a mistake....

After more than fifty years, the quest for permanent nuclear waste disposal remains illusory. One thing, however, is clear, whether we like it or not: the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain in storage at US reactor sites for the indefinite future. In protecting America from nuclear catastrophe, safely securing the spent fuel by eliminating highly radioactive, crowded pools should be a public safety priority of the highest degree....
Majia here: I strong recommend reading the entire essay. If you read it previously, I suggest re-reading it. The essay includes some interesting tidbits about Fukushima. For example, Alvarez writes of Fukushima:

"Spent fuel in one pool is believed to have caught fire and exploded"

Nuclear waste is one of the two major reasons nuclear can never work as a practical, efficient, and safe energy source. The second reason is the problem of delayed heat and the consequential dangers of nuclear reactors.

Nuclear is the poison apple.

Unfortunately, we've eaten so much of it that we no longer are capable of seeing clearly.

We are dying as we continue to suck on its poison pulp.


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