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Why there’s no permanent nuclear waste dump in U.S.


This undated image taken February 22, 2004 shows Yucca Mountain’s entrance, which is located approximately 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

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The federal government is a fund of $44.3 billionThis money will be used to build a nuclear waste disposal site in the United States.

In the 1980s it began collecting money for the fund from energy customers. Today, the money earns about $5.5 billion. $1.4 billion in interest each year.

Plans to construct a Yucca Mountain site, Nevada were stopped by federal and state politics. There has been little political will to come up with other options. The U.S. doesn’t have the infrastructure necessary to safely dispose of radioactive nuclear waste. deep geologic repositoryThis is where radioactivity can be slowly lost over thousands of decades without causing damage.

With the growing concern about climate change, some investors as well as political activists are reviving their interest in nuclear power, which is a renewable source of energy and does not produce climate-warming CO2. This is forcing nuclear proponents again to face the difficult problem of waste.

Nevada was the center of the trash story.

Congress created the Nuclear Waste Fund in 1982Everybody who got some of their power from nuclear energy had to pay small sums to get rid of it.

The Department of Energy investigated nine locations for permanent waste disposal from 1982 to 1987 and finally narrowed it down to just three. Yucca Mountain, Nevada was chosen as the first site. Sites in Washington and Texas were next. A few members of Congress worried that it would be too costly to examine multiple sites. Congress therefore amended its 1982 law so that all its focus was on Yucca Mountain.

“Some would say Congress made a prudent choice, but other would say that Yucca was prematurely down-selected because the Nevada delegation had the least political clout on the Hill,” Rod McCullum, the senior director of decommissioning and used fuel at the Nuclear Energy Institute, told CNBC.

McCullum stated that “Over time, the latter view tend to have prevailed and that the 1987 Amendment is commonly referred to by the’screw Nevada’ bill.”

A program was established in 1987 to provide interim storage solutions. Steve NesbitCNBC was informed by a statement made by Jeremy Nesbit, President of American Nuclear Society. Nesbit stated that some of the Nuclear Waste Fund funds were used for that purpose, but it was not working in 1994.

George W. Bush was President in 2002. signed a resolutionBarack Obama established the Yucca Mountain repository campaigned against itYucca Mountain funding was cut in the 2010 budget by Mr.

Nesbit stated that Nevada’s political opposition “probably would not have made any difference if Senator Reid hadn’t become such a powerful figure in politics, but he did. He used his influence and stopped the project,” Nesbit said to CNBC. Yucca Mountain has, unfortunately, become a political issue like many other things. This makes it harder to do anything.

The federal government stopped collecting money from the Nuclear Waste Fund after 2014. legal ruling. Electricity plant owners and operators had objected to the Department of Energy collecting fees. They argued that ratepayers shouldn’t pay into a fund when there were no other viable alternatives for permanent disposal of the fuel.

Frank Rusco, Government Accountability Office, says that the Nuclear Waste Fund money has been returned to the general fund after all of its delays and beginnings. He said that Congress would need to authorize and appropriate the funds again for their original purposes.

Rusco explained that “this could potentially lead to a problem in getting a repositorie built.”

Jim Geary (WARP facility manager) inspects a shipment of TRUPACT containers that was delivered to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, June 30, 2005, near Richland. Each container contains 14 55-gallon drums full of transuranic (TRU), waste. These have been processed and will now be sent to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP in New Mexico.

Jeff T. Green | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Reasons to feel optimistic

The federal government doesn’t have a permanent place to keep radioactive nuclear waste. Therefore, they must pay utilities companies for storage. Nuclear waste is currently stored mainly in. dry casksThe locations of all the nation’s nuclear power plants, both current and ex-. It appears that the system works so far. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the leading oversight body of the sector. current storage technology would be sufficient for 100 years.

We’ve loaded more than 3000 of these systems in total since 1986. We haven’t experienced any problems. Nothing has gone wrong. McCullum stated to CNBC that no radiation had been released.

McCullum explained that NRC had assumed storage systems would be obsolete in 100 years. However, McCullum noted. NRC’s analysis would need to be reexamined if utilities apply for licenses to use storage facilities beyond 100 year. “Thankfully, we still have 2086 to do that. It is my hope that the disposal option will become available soon.

The government paid out $2.5 billion as of September 30, $9 billionUtility companies will pay for interim storage charges. The Department of Energy’s Agency Finance Report estimated that it would cost $30.9 billion more to dispose of permanent waste in the United States.

Rusco stated that this estimate might be too low.

The tide could be shifting back towards finding long-term solutions.

November 30, was the date that the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy released a document entitled “An Overview of Nuclear Energy.” formal “request for information” for a temporary, but consolidatedStorage of nuclear waste in the U.S.

Instead of digging in the ground to create a permanent storage area, a temporary location would keep the empty casks in one spot and not spread around the country. In some cases, the local nuclear plants have been completely disassembled — but the waste is still stored on site. The consolidation of it could save you money.

Nesbit explained to CNBC that it only takes one security officer, one maintenance team and one operations staff. “It would then be much more efficient,” Nesbit said. What they are doing is that they want to take small bites and enjoy the elephant slowly, rather than consuming it all at once.

McCullum, of the NEI, says that McCullum’s slow pace in developing a permanent storage solution for his company isn’t a problem. It’s important to design something that can be stored for thousands of years. He said that it’s fine if it takes decades to find the right solution.

The rise in climate-related concerns has given way to new energy. advanced nuclear reactorsThese designs are safer and more effective than traditional ones. There is renewed interest to solve the waste problem.

These things take a lot longer than what we are used to, which is instant gratification. But in general, I’m optimistic,” says Rob HowardIntegrated Waste Management’s national technical director, based at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Two decades of his professional career he spent on Yucca Mountain’s technical side, where he was the most prominent potential site for permanent disposing.

Nesbit also stated that some extreme antipathy towards nuclear power appears to be dissipating.

Nesbit explained that the visceral fear associated with nuclear weapons is a result of those who were raised in Cold War times and 1970s when anti-nuclear activists really felt their oats. People younger than 40 are more open to innovative and new ideas.

At a Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project Hearing, Sen. John Ensign, R.Nev. and Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, were left.

Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call, Inc.| CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Yucca Mountain: More Stalking?

Experts believe DOE’s request of information regarding an interim solution to Yucca Mountain’s geologic hazardous waste disposal problem is nothing but bureaucratic showboating.

“It’s all politics. You can do it. If it wasn’t for Nevada’s 6 electoral votes and Harry Reid we would be building the repository now,” said Andrew KadakBoston Institute of Technology professor of nuclear science, engineering, and consultant in decommissioning nuclear power stations.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility CommissionersThe non-profit group representing state commissions that regulate utilities brought Yucca Mountain’s stalled investigation to court. DOE and NRC needed to completeThey had already begun the formal assessment, however political machinations were not a factor. August 2013 saw a U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit decision The NRC should be directed to restart the Yucca Mountain licensing process.

The NRC released a final supplement report on Yucca mountain in May 2016. It found that there were risks related to the proposed fear of Yucca Mountain. groundwater contamination, one of Reid’s points of contention, would be “small.”

According to the DOE, their recent request for feedback in order to find a new site is an example of a delay tactic. Kadak.

Kadak claimed that “even if the consent based-siting process started, I don’t see any state volunteer.”

Kadak believes Yucca Mountain is the most practical and effective solution.

Kadak stated, “If I were the President, I would recommend that Yucca Mountain be restarted because it is an acceptable site and it has had technical reviews done by the NRC. It’s available for licensing hearing.”

Department of Energy insists that Yucca Mountain remains a no-go for the moment.

“The Administration made it clear that Yucca Mountain was not an option. CNBC spoke with a spokesperson representing the Office of Nuclear Energy, who said that Congress hasn’t provided Yucca Mountain funding in 10 years.

Nesbit doesn’t expect that to change: “No telling what a Yucca Mountain vote would be today, but it’s a moot point — the political leadership would never allow such a vote.”