USA’s continuing turmoil over nuclear waste
Lessons of Fukushima remain unknown……..critical details of what happened to the spent fuel held in elevated water pools in reactor buildings remain a mystery to U.S. regulators and the Blue Ribbon Commission members.
Fukushima Disaster Deepens U.S. Turmoil Over Nuclear Waste Storage, NYTimes.com, By PETER BEHR of ClimateWire May 16, 2011 Japan’s nuclear disaster and the abandoned Yucca Mountain repository are combining to create a more complex puzzle for U.S. policymakers wrestling with the future of nuclear power in the United States.
On Friday, a Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) of experts appointed by the Obama administration presented subcommittee reports calling for the “expedited” creation of one or more consolidated interim sites for storing spent fuel from commercial U.S. reactors.
More than 70,000 tons of spent fuel with varying levels of remaining radioactivity are currently in “wet” or “dry” storage at the reactor sites, with nowhere else to go.
The subcommittee also recommended that the United States develop one or more permanent underground repositories for spent fuel in place of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository that has been shelved by the Obama administration. Both interim and permanent sites should only be located where local communities welcome them, and not imposed on a location, as Yucca Mountain was in Nevada, commissioners said. A new federal agency should be created to manage both interim and permanent site development, commissioners said.
A consolidated interim storage facility could take 20 years to locate, fund, license and build, according to the Government Accountability Office. A future permanent repository is even further in the future, the GAO said…..
Lessons of Fukushima remain unknown
More than two months after the start of the Fukushima crisis, critical details of what happened to the spent fuel held in elevated water pools in reactor buildings remain a mystery to U.S. regulators and the Blue Ribbon Commission members. Technicians had to wait several years after the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island before it was safe enough to directly assess the damage to the reactor. Crews at the Fukushima plant are in a daily struggle to control damaged reactors, and there is no guarantee that the accident details will become clear by the time the commission is planning to publish its draft final report, in July…….
In another two decades, many of the first U.S. commercial reactors will be coming to the end of an extended 60-year license term. It far from settled whether they could qualify for a new relicensing for another 20 years, or whether their owners would choose that course, experts say. That could mean that a growing line of reactors will be headed for decommissioning and more reactor sites will be closed with only their legacy of spent fuel containers, expanding the case for centralized storage, Meserve said…..
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