Australian news, and some related international items

70,000 tons of high level nuclear waste already in USA

the country’s political leaders are no closer to a safe, permanent disposal plan for nuclear waste than they were a generation ago,

Nuclear waste piles up with no disposal plan, | Asbury Park Press, By RAJU CHEBIUM • WASHINGTON BUREAU • September 15, 2010 — Tens of thousands of tons of potentially lethal radioactive waste have been piling up across the nation for more than a generation, but the federal government has yet to decide how to get rid of it permanently.

After axing a multibillion-dollar plan to bury the waste beneath Yucca Mountain, Nev., President Barack Obama has asked an expert panel to recommend alternatives.

But the panel’s report isn’t due until January 2012. And the group’s recommendations aren’t binding on the White House or Congress.

In short, the country’s political leaders are no closer to a safe, permanent disposal plan for nuclear waste than they were a generation ago, when nuclear power became widespread and the Cold War was in full swing.

The nation’s accumulated 70,000 tons of extremely radioactive, “high level” waste — uranium and plutonium — has sat in “temporary” storage in 35 states since at least the 1950s.
“The country at large is beset by a whole host of problems, so it’s not surprising that they aren’t paying attention to this,” said nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “Everybody realizes that the collapse of the Yucca Mountain program means many years of on-site storage with no end in sight. Even the people who want nuclear power don’t want waste in their backyards.”The waste will continue to pile up as the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants win license renewals from federal regulators. It’s expected to reach 153,000 tons by 2055, according to a November report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative agency.

Commercial nuclear waste, which is solid, is stored in deep pools of water at many power plants. Some of it also is stored in huge steel-and-concrete containers called dry casks, which cost about $1 million apiece, according to Rod McCullum, a waste expert at the power industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute.

Jim Riccio, a nuclear energy analyst at the environmental group Greenpeace, said the Obama administration should tell the industry to move more of the fuel rods from pools, where they’re more vulnerable to terrorist attack, to dry casks.

Nuclear waste piles up with no disposal plan | | Asbury Park Press

September 20, 2010 - Posted by | uranium | , , , , , ,

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