June 6, 2012 UPDATE: The House of Representatives “voted 326-81 to give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an additional $10 million for its 2013 appropriation, to ensure the commission can complete a review of the permitting process to use Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a nuclear waste storage site.”
Yesterday, Pete Kasperowicz reported at The Hill that the House was “expected to approve an amendment … aimed at forcing” the NRC to “complete its review of the Department of Energy’s application for a permit to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site.”
The amendment to H.R. 5325, the Energy and Water bill, would “move $10 million from the Department of Energy’s administrative account to NRC salaries and expenses, to ensure the NRC can finish the review,” Kasperowicz stated, “will be approved with the support of both parties, going against the Obama administration’s desire to close the site.”
The amendment, Kasperowicz continued, is “a reaction to the NRC’s decision not to follow U.S. law that calls for an assessment of the facility within three years.”
Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration “opposes the Yucca Mountain project and has stopped the review.” Meanwhile, House Republicans and Democrats have “indicated they will push for the NRC assessment to take place.”
This brings us to some old news.
In a February 1, 2010 post, Michelle Malkin wrote that the Obama budget exposed a nuclear lie:
- In his State of the Union Address, President Obama purported to reach across the aisle by endorsing a “new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants” … before pushing cap and trade.
The nearly $4 trillion budget he released today exposes his nuclear lie.
It zeroes out funds for the besieged Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility in Nevada — one of the few, prominent Obama campaign pledges that he looks like he’s actually fulfilling.
This was the perfect opportunity to insert a vintage RBO post from September 2009, my “Factchecking Friedman on France’s Radioactive Waste Issues”:
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman — he of Friedman unit notoriety — spewed forth with more
wisdom stupidity September 20, 2009, in “Real Men Tax Gas” — on nuclear power plants:
- … France today generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and it has managed to deal with all the radioactive waste issues without any problems or panics. And us? We get about 20 percent and have not been able or willing to build one new nuclear plant since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, even though that accident led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or neighbors. We’re too afraid to store nuclear waste deep in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain — totally safe — at a time when French mayors clamor to have reactors in their towns to create jobs. In short, the French stayed the course on clean nuclear power, despite Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and we ran for cover.
It’s not bad enough Friedman thinks we’re all wimps when it comes to the thought of paying taxes on gas. He thinks France has everything figured out: “[France] has managed to deal with all the radioactive waste issues without any problems or panics.”
Sorry, Tommy boy, wrong. Denis Du Bois wrote March 19, 2005 at EnergyPriorities.com:
- France gets the majority of its power from nuclear reactors. In the mid 1950s, over feeble public dissent, the country’s leadership made that commitment.
Today, France is dealing with the legacy of its nuclear programs. Waste is stored in large facilities, while scientists search for ways to make it less deadly.
Parliament issued a report in March, 2005, on the issue of France’s nuclear waste. Its recommendations confirm the status quo: waste storage and decontamination research.
The cost of waste disposal — hundreds of billions of euros — is being passed along to ratepayers. High rates aren’t the only legacy of 50 years of nuclear power. Citizens and scientists alike are concerned about security, groundwater contamination, and storage.
And Du Bois describes the scope of the problem — in 2005:
- Highly radioactive materials, such as spent fuel rods, are stored in The Hague and at the Marcoule nuclear facility, on the Rhone River near the southern city of Orange.
The director of the Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA) at the Marcoule facility, Loic Martin-Deidier, recalls the enthusiasm for quickly launching civil and military nuclear programs. At the time, he says, “they weren’t thinking 40 years ahead.”
Half a century later, nuclear waste continues to grow. Rods from atomic reactors aren’t the only waste France has to deal with.
Nuclear reactors and laboratories built during the nuclear boom times are being dismantled. Everything from contaminated parts to rubber gloves must be disposed of. Workers meticulously examine each item using remote-controlled cameras. Color-coded images reveal spots of radioactive contamination on items such as bolts, tools, conveyor belts, clothing, and medical equipment.
Some items can be cleaned. Robots stuff the rest into special barrels for eternal storage.
Every day, about ten shipping containers arrive on trucks at the Soulaines-Dhuys storage facility outside Troyes, in the province of Ardennes, 180 kilometers east of Paris. On board are barrels of waste that isn’t radioactive enough to be stored at Marcoule. Every year, 15,000 cubic meters of waste contaminated with uranium, plutonium and tritium arrive here.
The 350-acre site is like an above-ground Yucca Mountain. Construction cranes hover above a hundred bunker-like cement blocks already filled with barrels encased in concrete. In 60 years, the cranes’ job will be done, the 400-bunker facility will be full, and the entire facility will be covered with a concrete lid. What then?
Amen. What then?
- The Soulaines-Dhuys site will enter a 300-year surveillance phase. After that, the plan is to observe the site until the stored waste loses its radioactivity.
The initial 300 years is just the beginning. Even moderately radioactive plutonium retains hazardous for 24,000 years. Skeptics wonder if future generations will follow the plan — or even remember where the site is located.
Americans are wimps, Tom? Show us who’s the stupid one in this scenario, please.
- In the end, locals may have little say in the matter. In 2002, France stored 978,000 cubic meters of waste. In 2020, the annual amount is expected to be 1.9 million cubic meters.
The country is far behind most of its European neighbors in renewable energy development. It has meager fossil fuel resources, such as coal or gas. The country is, for the foreseeable future, dependent on nuclear power.
Meanwhile, keeping the lights on means the waste keeps coming.
Choice? Lady or the Tiger. Pick one: gas/oil or coal — or hundreds, yea thousands, of years of nuclear waste.
Oh. What’s the “Friedman unit” you ask? Since 2003 Friedman repeatedly stated “the next six months” was the time period in which “we’re going to find out…whether a decent outcome is possible” in the Iraq War. Well, how many “Friedmans” has it been?
Just what we thought.