Friday, December 10, 2004

Nuclear Fuel Waste Problem

Technology Review this month has an article on what should be done with the stored Nuclear Waste that is in storage around the country. Mark Wald pretty much states that Yucca Mountain is a write off. Their solution is cask storage at a single repository. Strange though that he won’t put the logic together and suggest the cask storage being done at Yucca Mountain. Hell, the holes in the ground are already there and it shouldn’t be hugely difficult to set up the area for cask storage. Considering the huge amount of money already spent for the facility, wouldn’t it just be a better idea to retrofit the mess and use it rather than abandon it.

Though they state Wald has been writing on nuclear issues for 25 years he still doesn’t seem to know that a fire would release radioactive material and not radiation. Fire doesn’t make radiation radioactive material does. Like many journalists, he shows a limited understanding of the topic that he is writing and this leads those of us that know a topic to distrust what is written.

The article makes some good points on the benefits of extended storage. They fail to tell you that its dry storage, and at that point the fuel assemblies have reached the ability to be stored indefinitely in a dry container. The storage though would allow for time to let the fuel waste cool radiation wise with the decay of short-lived isotopes. This would allow for processing of the fuel to separate out the short-lived waste from the long-lived wastes. The long-lived wastes would also contain much reusable fuel that could then be utilized.

Unfortunately, Wald only speaks of processing the final wastes by the ceramic matrix method. There isn’t any discussion of vitrification or other methods being presently used in Europe. Then suddenly he pops up with launching the waste into space. Now there is a brilliant idea. [Yes, I’m being very sarcastic.] Launching into space has some very large inherent risks just getting it there. And what happens in the future when someone comes across one of these lethal nuclear bundles in space and doesn’t know what it is. For some reason they think that once in space it will never be a danger again. I shot an arrow in the air….

Of course, the article is limited to discussion on disposal of fuel waste and nothing on other forms of high-level radioactive wastes that are out there. Not to mention the mixed hazardous wastes that is mainly lying around in government storage.

Well read the comments forum that is with the site. There is actually better information there than there is in the article.

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