This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 11, 2010 2:07 AM. The previous post in this blog was Old Town, new address. The next post in this blog is Now, this guy would make it interesting. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can you dig it? Well, don't.

Folks in these parts who have been following the tragic saga of nuclear waste disposal in the United States -- including at Hanford, Washington -- might be interested in this article about what's going on in Finland.

Comments (7)

The author doesn't seem to be paying any attention to the Times.

He writes about the next Ice Age.

Obviously, he hasn't gotten the message taht there will only be global warming, all caosed bu humans, and never again another Ice Age.

Burying this stuff for all time is the worst possible thing we can do with it. If it's still highly radioactive, then it's still viable for use as a fuel. Use it for something good - burning up in an Integral Fast Reactor for electricity production.

Spent fuel rods have only spent 1% or so of the fuel, and that's been transmuted into "transuranic waste" which acts as a neutron poison - it captures neutrons that are bouncing around inside the reactor rather than letting them bombard additional Uranium atoms which split and continue the criticality. By reprocessing the rods, we can remove the 1% and load them right back into the reactor.

It's estimated that we have enough fuel for hundreds of years of operation, already above ground, sitting in casks.

Reasons why this isn't done in the US today:
• cost. This seems rather silly in comparison to tunneling out a giant hole to put it all in, and then never actually put it there due to political NIMBY-ism. Spend lots of money to build a facility, and then never use it for anything other than a political punching bag.

• a Carter-era executive order which prohibits reprocessing for "proliferation concerns", when the vast majority of the Plutonium that would be separated during reprocessing is not viable for weapons production (weapons-grade Plutonium is >93% Pu-239, and isotopic separation is not possible between Pu-239 and Pu-240 like it is with U-235 and U-238). Besides, it would be a Government-operated facility such as Oak Ridge / Y-12 that would be doing the reprocessing, since they were already doing that for the last 50 years.

• a Clinton-era decision to kill funding for the IFR project which would burn up all this stuff, because foreign oil was cheap, and they didn't like the Nuclear boogey-man.

Oh, and the waste that comes out of the closed-loop nuclear fuel cycle? Measured in pounds rather than tons, and has a half-life measured in the low hundreds of years, rather than thousands. That stuff, you vitrify ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste#Vitrification ) into a glass that won't corrode if exposed to water like the current dry casks do, and either keep it on-site, or shove *that* into a big hole in the middle of nowhere, which doesn't have to be as big as the hole you'd need to dig for unprocessed waste, and doesn't have to be secured for the remainder of civilization as we know it.

At least, it's a better plan than letting it all sit where it currently is for the next 50 years while the argument goes on... this stuff will go away by itself in a couple hundred thousand years, I guess - can Congress argue about it that long?

Our idealism and refusal to deal with anything unpleasant is still working against us.If we don't think about it, if we keep the problem at a distance, it won't bother us.

My thanks to MachineShedFred for his insights. If we and Congress would let them, I suspect engineers and scientists could deal quite well with nuclear waste.

(disclaimer: I just bought stock in Energy Services Inc, which deals with nuclear waste and does decontamination.)

So right, Fred! The retarded political population answers everything with the kick the can down the road, philosophy. They fuel up on bad science that can be spun for big bucks and a dumbed down population that has no concept of peer review. Real science is public, especially if it impacts the public. Studying civics doesn't qualify a person for much of anything in the real world. much yet decisions such as this. Barcelona Model, doesn't work there but we will make it work here.

I hope the blowtards who dug a mile into the Gulf of Mexico for oil without an accident plan aren't digging this hell hole.

This maneuver raises an interesting question about international law and how far down a country can or should be allowed to claim our common Earth as theirs.

Although the Finland operation will store higher level waste, we're using the same general principle with WIPP down in New Mexico.


All things considered, I'd bet on Finland's idea of burying this stuff in geologicaly stable bedrock over a subterranian salt pile.

So is there any comprehensive information source that tells us what all the other countries with nuclear waste are doing with it?

Clicky Web Analytics