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Government Power Hardware Science

As Nuclear Reactors Age, the Money To Close Them Lags 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-go-wrong dept.
Harperdog writes "A worrying bit of news about nuclear reactors in the U.S. from the NYT: 'The operators of 20 of the nation's aging nuclear reactors, including some whose licenses expire soon, have not saved nearly enough money for prompt and proper dismantling. If it turns out that they must close, the owners intend to let them sit like industrial relics for 20 to 60 years or even longer while interest accrues in the reactors' retirement accounts.'"
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As Nuclear Reactors Age, the Money To Close Them Lags

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  • Two sides (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sav1or (2600417)
    Part of me thinks we need to take risks in order to learn about and understand this powerful technology, and part of me doesn't want to mutate...
    • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dch24 (904899) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:08PM (#39447225) Journal
      No risk necessary. Just take the spent fuel and burn it in a newer-gen reactor.

      Ok, ok, transporting radioactive waste is hazardous. So be careful about that.
      • by mug funky (910186)

        no need to transport it - build a new gen reactor in situ. might as well use that land for something.

      • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fluffy99 (870997) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @11:52PM (#39447977)

        No risk necessary. Just take the spent fuel and burn it in a newer-gen reactor.

        What about the other large quantity of low-level stuff like the containment chamber, piping, etc. Really the fuel itself is the least of the cleanup problem.

      • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K (682162) on Friday March 23, 2012 @12:18AM (#39448071) Homepage

        You forget the contaminated structure in the reactors. The fuel is a minor issue but the containment is more of a problem.

        I suspect that the owners will end up going bankrupt and leave the problem to the government.

        • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Friday March 23, 2012 @05:00AM (#39448889) Homepage

          The owners don't go bankrupt, just think psychopath corporate executives. When a nuclear power station is nearing end of life, they simply split if off as an independent company and sell it to the public based on current income and buried in debt with not of zero money left in the budget but in fact negative tens of millions left in the budget for shutdown.

          Reality is the only safe way to do a nuclear power station is to have them totally under government control. Taxpayers pay the bill and taxpayers get the benefit of any positive returns during the life of the nuclear power station because at the end of the day it is taxpayers who will always get lumbered with the loses, while psychopath corporate executives wander of with multi-million dollar bonuses and golden parachutes.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            not quite;

            Taxpayers' get the benefit, and taxpayers' children, grandchildren and great grandchildren get the expense of decommissioning and handling the waste.

            This is the big problem with nuclear - it's broadly equivalent to taking out a huge loan which will be paid down over the next few thousand years.

          • Re:Two sides (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Friday March 23, 2012 @05:39AM (#39449023)

            Government ownership didn't work out too well in the Ukraine.

            Like socialism, nuclear is a great idea on paper. But once you get greedy and/or incompetent people involved, and it is pretty inevitable you will, you don't want to be living down wind of one.

            If the companies building and profiting from nuclear had to pay the full costs of insurance and decommissioning they would never be built. Come to that, if open cast coal miners or oil shale producers had to pay the full costs of restoring the land solar would probably be cheaper than all alternatives.

            • by DarkOx (621550)

              Government ownership in the USA won't work either for the same reasons private ownership does not. Politicians will want to buy votes of individuals and industrial concerns a like under billing(taxing) for the true costs. They may even push rate reductions as 'economic stimulus' or other such nonsense. The end result will be the same. Through the life of the plant their will be maintenance problems due to budget deficiency and near the end of the plants life we will discover the trust fund for its clean

            • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Friday March 23, 2012 @06:37AM (#39449317) Journal

              Solar just passed the $1 per watt milestone so in fact it is now cost competitive with oil which is fully subsidized. And since the new cells can be deposited on a flexible plastic substrate, we can now cover all kinds of artifacts and structures with these new inexpensive solar cells. We live in a fantasy. The presumptions upon which our economy functions include infinite natural resources, infinite capacity to recover from prolific environmental abuse, and infinite capacity for the middle class to take the brunt of the fiscal misconduct of the wealthy and powerful.

              There is a human tendency when raiding the cookie jar to just keep taking until nothing is left. This week the Cal State University Regents this week voted themselves a 10% increase in pay. This in a time where Universities across the state are being crushed by lack of state funding, teachers are being let go, classes eliminated from the curriculum and students everywhere are crumpling under draconian increases of tuition. Some of the top state CSU executives received raises as large as 22%. They had to close down several campuses for fear of violent protest. This is just one example of people who should be leading by example, instead using their position to take advantage of the public. These people all have salaries in excess of $250,000. You can't tell me that they were so underpaid that they couldn't keep a roof over their heads. I don't have a problem with people getting fair remuneration. Just not on the backs of the rest of society, and please stop at a fair share. Leave a couple cookies for the rest of us.

      • Re:Two sides (Score:4, Informative)

        by Stellian (673475) on Friday March 23, 2012 @02:10AM (#39448363)

        Just take the spent fuel and burn it in a newer-gen reactor.

        Can you name a single such site ? Could you possibly refer to the generation IV breeder reactors of which no commercial plant was yet built, or is even in the approval phase ?
        Most importantly, the authors of generation IV projects planned a 20 years period of basic science research before their projects could become reality, starting with the year 2002. Since little of that research was actually accomplished [arxiv.org], it's prudent to say commercial gen IV breeder reactors are decades away.

        The Generation IV Roadmap document can be summarized with the statement that the known technological gaps to construct even prototype breeder reactors were enormous at the time when the document was written. These unknowns are addressed with a detailed planning for the required research projects and the associated cost. Only after these problems have been solved a design and construction of expensive prototype breeder reactors can start.
        We are now at the end of the year 2009 and almost half the originally planned R&D period is over. Essentially no progress results have been presented and the absence of large funding during the past 8 years gives little condence that even the most basic questions for the entire Generation IV reactors program can be answered during the next few years. Thus, it seems that the Generation IV roadmap is already totally outdated and unrealistic.

      • by necro81 (917438)
        Unfortunately, there's a lot more radioactive waste at an old plant than just the spent fuel. Spent fuel is relatively straightforward and, as you say, could eventually have some value in a new reactor architecture. But what do you do with 10,000 tons of broken concrete that's been sprinkled with radioactive isotopes over the years, or rusting pipes and valves that have had radioactive steam flowing through them for decades? Can't convert that to nuclear fuel. This has always been a point the nuclear in
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)

      Not sure there need be any risks. I see nothing inherently dangerous about nuclear reactors. We know sodium reactors don't go critical even when there's a total coolant failure. The only danger is that sodium and water shouldn't mix, so avoid using water in the reactor if you're using sodium.

      Radioactive dust is a major hazard, but since there's no reason to expose the fuel rods to air, there's no reason for there to be radioactive dust.

      Radioactive waste is another hazard, but if you reprocess the rods and s

      • Re:Two sides (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Friday March 23, 2012 @12:24AM (#39448093) Journal

        I see nothing inherently dangerous about nuclear reactors. We know sodium reactors don't go critical even when there's a total coolant failure.

        Fukushima had a total coolant failure, and didn't go critical, but it was certainly dangerous. And there they had (and used) the option to pump cold water into the primary coolant loop and vent steam from it - an option which wouldn't be available with sodium.

        Reprocessing fuel is in itself dangerous: the third worst nuclear accident [wikipedia.org] was at a reprocessing plant. I suspect your analysis of waste reduction through reprocessing is highly optimistic, but I lack the expertise to say for sure.

        • by sjames (1099)

          In newer sodium designs, the core is in part regulated by it's own thermal expansion. The sodium pool has sufficient area to radiate the heat away safely even if active cooling stops completely.

          Fast reactors are fine running on mixed actinides, so the reprocessing is simpler and safer. A side benefit is that the mixed actinide fuel is harder to refine into weapons grade material than it is to produce it from scratch.

        • by meerling (1487879)
          Don't forget that one of the factors that made things worse were the hydrogen explosions that occurred because the water was separating into it's component parts (gaseous hydrogen and oxygen). That's just not going to happen to a sodium reactor.
      • You are forgetting you essentially have a very large radioactive building, even if you take the fuel rods out and (re)use them somewhere else. Either encapsulate the building in a thick layer of concrete where it is now, or take it apart with extreme costs to prevent dust escaping. You then have an enormous mount of radioactive building waste. Yes, most of the radioactivity levels will be relatively low, but they would be too high to just dispose of the rubble in a normal way.

        The cost would be in either d
    • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        .... were the last words uttered by the person who successfully opened a sustained black hole on earth.
  • Unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:06PM (#39447219) Journal
    They'll just use corrupt business laws and politics to rape the "retirement accounts" for their own benefit. Then they'll leave the dangerous corpses of their businesses as a warning to future generations on the stupidity of trusting your future to lowest-common-denominator businessmen.
    • Re:Unlikely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Formalin (1945560) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:46PM (#39447415)

      Of course, why pay for clean-up?

      Much better to ride that "retirement fund" as a golden parachute for yourself, and externalise the actual costs onto the backs of taxpayers (and become the next superfund site).

    • Re:Unlikely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inviolet (797804) <slashdot AT ideasmatter DOT org> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @10:51PM (#39447743) Journal

      They'll just use corrupt business laws and politics to rape the "retirement accounts" for their own benefit. Then they'll leave the dangerous corpses of their businesses as a warning to future generations on the stupidity of trusting your future to lowest-common-denominator businessmen.

      Yep.

      It's situations like this, and the revelation of how costs were cut on Fukushima's seawall by omitting the datapoint of the big tsunami in the 1800s, that made me realize something that shocked me:

      Nuclear power is perfectly safe, ideal, and awesome... but nuclear power built by humans is NOT. As a species we are short-sighted venal lying scammers, so there are many glorious technologies (nanotech anyone?) that become liabilities in our hands.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I don't think that the kind of species we are is the problem here. Capitalism prides itself on setting good incentives, but some of the real incentives that are created are just destructive and wicked, as is demonstrated nicely in this story. You can't just assume that people using massive amounts of tech and labor for their own self-interest is going to be just fine for everyone, as long as we put a bunch of regulations in place. I'd really like to see more research into alternative economic systems, I f
    • Re:Unlikely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @11:08PM (#39447803) Journal

      Or they'll just do what the NG wildcatters do in my state which is "the shell game' and goes like this: Set up a corp to own ALL the things you find valuable, mineral rights, hell even the office furniture and then LEASE them to yourself through a shell corp, will call them shitcorp or shitc for short. then when you get in trouble for dumping or causing a quake or what have you and people and the businesses you screwed come looking to sue you burn shitc and then simple make a NEW shell corp called...oh we'll say shitd. Since all the things worth having were never owned by shitc in the first place there is nothing to sue for, unless you want some shitc office stationary or something, and they walk away with the profits and just do the same shell game all over again.

      If you want proof why the entire corporate system is just fucking evil now its shit like the above, they have screwed countless people in my home state by doing that trick which lets them have ZERO responsibilities folks, they don't have to worry about pollution or tearing shit up or destroying the land because its all 100% consequence free! No how many do you think are gonna care about what they do to the environment if it costs them absolutely nothing if they ignore the rules and hundreds of thousands if not millions to follow them?

  • Like a wife (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:09PM (#39447233)

    They might be expensive to keep around. Until you price a divorce.

    • by linatux (63153) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:22PM (#39447313)

      Where's "+1 Sad" when you need it?

    • by KalvinB (205500)

      My ex-wife's student loan debt was around $65,000 and I never "made enough" for her and she had no real ambition really to ever work to pay off her debt herself. Which I wouldn't have had much of an issue with if she actually respected how hard I worked and the money I was able to bring in. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with being a highly educated stay at home mom. The divorce cost $30K. The way I look at it, I saved $35K plus life long pain and suffering.

      I also walked away with 50/50 custody of

  • Gee, the Public Utility Commissions setting rates wouldn't have anything to do with inadequate money saved, would it?
  • by steelscalp (1383757) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:16PM (#39447273)
    It seems unlikely that interest will grow faster than the cost of dismantling increases. But, letting the shortest half-life stuff decay will make the task a little less challenging.
    • by nojayuk (567177) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:48PM (#39447427)

      The UK's older reactors like the Magnox units are being decommissioned on a long-term basis, about 80 years from shutdown to final clearing of the reactor site. The delay is to allow the radioactivity in the core components such as the reactor vessel and primary steam piping to decay to virtually nothing which makes future dismantling easier.

      After shutdown the spent fuel is removed and a start is made demolishing non-radioactive parts of the reactor complex such as the turbine halls, control rooms etc. What is left is no real danger to anyone; the reactor containment is sealed off and left to sit with a simple wire fence around it for the next fifty or sixty years before final demolishing of the rest of the reactor is carried out.

      I imagine the US reactors are up for similar custodial treatment and the newspaper reports are sensationalistic garbage as they usually are. Some decommissioning is carried out more rapidly here and there in the world but usually because the site is going to be quickly reused to build a new reactor complex on it -- for example the Japanese are in the final stages of decommissioning and dismantling a small Magnox reactor at Tokai about ten years after it shut down but it is on the site of one of their nuclear research and development centres.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That tends to be exactly what happens. In addition, replacement reactors are built on the same site next to decommissioned reactors making any security monitoring costs basically nil.

        While it is quite possible to completely dismantle a reactor within 1 year, it is about 100x cheaper to wait 10 years and 1000x cheaper to simply wait 50 years. Unlike with conventional pollutants, nuclear stuff simply ceases to be the problem as a function of time.

    • by jd (1658)

      The short half-life stuff tends to be the isotopes with market value in industrial applications. Cleaning these places up might recover enough material to cover the cost of the cleaning plus a bit extra.

    • It seems unlikely that interest will grow faster than the cost of dismantling increases.

      It seems to me that the cost of dismantling will decrease. The core will become less radioactive with time, and 20 or 30 years from now we should be smarter about the process. Robotics should be much more advanced. There will be a larger market for more of the isotopes. Heck, 30 years from now most of the "waste" may be considered a valuable resource.

      What is the hurry? It seems like waiting at least a few decades is a good idea.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:25PM (#39447321)

    It's easy to forget that when these reactors were set up the world was a different place. The "retirement" accounts for these reactors probably assumed a MUCH lower retirement cost. So it's not the fault of the utility if there isn't enough money in the accounts if the rules changed between point A and point B.

    Something that is irritating about many regulations is that they're very casually passed sometimes without really considering what the rule actually costs. If these fellows didn't save enough by the standards of the old cost projections then I see no fault with them. This is a situation where the government should probably take responsibility for the costs IF they are in fact responsible for making them go up.

    If they never were going to save enough even by the old rules then these utilities are at fault for mismanagement and I'd be fine with squeezing them to pony up the difference.

    Regardless, the money required to dismantle these reactors is probably in excess of what the utilities are themselves liable. So the government should probably pay that difference.

    I know a lot of people don't like this idea because budgets are getting tight. But when you pass regulations they cost someone money. If the government doesn't want to pay it can always relax the regulation in some circumstances. But short of that it isn't reasonable to change the rules on the utilities and then expect them to make up the difference.

    Short of that, the utilities will do what they're already doing... just leaving the money in an account to mature until such time as it can cover dismantling costs.

    So those are the options on the ground. Maybe I'm being unfair to someone... this is my impression of the matter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seems to me that the business plan for the building and operating the reactors should have included dismantling. It might have been, but maybe several corporate take overs and mergers raided the fund to fiance the acquisition. Or it was assumed from the beginning that the taxpayers would subsidize the clean up. That would mean just another case of corporate welfare at huge cost to the average American.

      • Who can say. I'm sure that did happen in at least one case. If there is fraud or looting or mismanagement then I would of course agree the company is liable for that.

        However, it is also very likely that they did plan for dismantling costs it's just that the costs have gone up radically in recent years because the rules have changed. Do you think the new regulations don't have a price? Who's paying for it? It has to come out of that dismantling fund and if they set it up assuming the old rules then they prob

    • by FishTankX (1539069) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @10:06PM (#39447513)

      One thing that was noted in the article is that a lot of the power companies HAD sufficient retirement funds, but a large portion of the value of their funds were wiped out in the economic crash of 2008. They mentioned one reactor's retirement fund crashing from $592m to somewhere north of 200m and even now not breaking 300m.

      Thus, it's the economic turbulence weathering the vulnerable investments made on the retirement funds. This is not too far from a bunch of seniors who just had their retirement income wiped out, continuing to work after retirement to make up for the shortfall in their supposedly secure retirement funds.

      • ah, in that case they're not at fault. They put their money into AAA investments considered equal to treasury bonds.

        If this is the case then no one is at fault besides possibly the rating agencies. And that means the reactors will sit there for years until their funds recover unless someone can figure out a way to finance it that doesn't punish people who ultimately are not at fault.

      • Yep, same kind of thing happened to my employer's retirement account. I work for a state university so we are all manditorily enrolled in a classic pension plan. The money we pay in is invested, of course. Well since the market went to shit we are short on what we need to cover obligations, so our contributions have gone up. When it recovers, they'll go down. Just how it works. I guess we could invest in nothing but AAA bonds or the like, but of course even with the volatility in general the investment fund

      • by swalve (1980968)
        They need to fire their investment bankers then, because even in my basically untouched 401k, I was back to even within 6-9 months of the bottom of the 2008 crash.
      • by rmstar (114746)

        One thing that was noted in the article is that a lot of the power companies HAD sufficient retirement funds, but a large portion of the value of their funds were wiped out in the economic crash of 2008. They mentioned one reactor's retirement fund crashing from $592m to somewhere north of 200m and even now not breaking 300m.

        Oh, the poor, poor things. Fortunately there is the government, who will step in and pay for decommissioning now with tax money. If we also privatize schooling and kill off social secur

    • Something that is irritating about many regulations is that they're very casually passed sometimes without really considering what the rule actually costs. If these fellows didn't save enough by the standards of the old cost projections then I see no fault with them.

      That might be an irritating factor with many regulations but suppose the reason for the new regulation is well justified by science? For example if a factory was built several decades ago using asbestos and then decommissioned today the costs would be significantly higher than the original projections because, in the interim, we have discovered that asbestos is dangerous. So should a government be expected to pay the increased costs because they passed regulations to require asbestos to be safely removed?

      • When a company sets up and agrees to follow all regulations including providing a fund for dismantling the reactor at the end of it's life they have to make assumptions about what that will cost.

        if those assumptions are unreasonable and due to things outside of their control the costs are not sufficient to meet dismantling costs then that isn't their fault.

        It's a question of determining responsibility and fault.

        Is their liability for the reactor unlimited? No. It clearly isn't. I mean, that isn't a controve

        • Is their liability for the reactor unlimited? No. It clearly isn't. I mean, that isn't a controversial point. It's a matter of contract that their liability has an exact dollar figure.

          Contract? Did the US government ask them to build and operate a reactor? If so then I agree with you - you follow the terms of the contract. I was operating under the assumption that they US government had simply permitted a company which wanted to build and run a reactor to do so in much the same way that it would permit a company to build a factory i.e. the company chose to do this because they think they can make money from it not that the government contracted with them to do it.

    • by jgdobak (119142)

      Regulation is almost always written by industry representatives to be as beneficial as possible to that industry, see healthcare,mortgage, and automotive industry regulation.

      We're willing to yell at some poor uneducated asshole who is homeless because he took on an investment he couldn't afford (apparently he is omniscient)

      BUT

      When industrialists fuck up in a fashion that may directly impact the health and safety of millions (let alone their finances), you "see no fault with them."

      You're a horrible human bei

      • Not true actually. It's written instead by whichever interest group is most interested in that industry and has the most power.

        That is USUALLY the industry's own lobby. However, the anti nuclear lobby is stronger then the pro nuclear lobby. As evidence, how many nuclear power plants have we built in the last 20 years? Exactly. Anti nuclear lobby is MUCH stronger. And because that lobby is stronger it writes the regulation and not the nuclear industry.

        As to being a horrible human being, I don't think you're

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      so what your saying is, that I the consumer can pay for this because someone made a financial plan and didn't bother to fucking update it since 1958, or I as a taxpayer can pay for this because someone made a financial plan and didn't bother to fucking update it since 1958?

      how about the shit for brains that ran the places, pay for their incompetence out of their own? Like I would if I set a retirement plan in stone and expected the entire world to not change a single bit in 50 years?

      • A question might be why they would be required to update it?

        Look... if you change the rules. that is if you change the terms of the contract EX POST FACTO then you're responsible for those extra costs. They held up their end of the bargain. They didn't change the rules. The government did. So who's responsible? The party that changed the rules... eg the government.

        Don't like that? Don't change the rules.

        That's why contracts are written down. So everyone can remember what everyone agreed to in black and whit

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It's just the old British Nuclear Fuels (and many others) policy of privitising the profits and socialising the expenses. Without very strict oversight and very strict rules about lobbying/bribing those that do the oversight it's the expected course, whether it's nuclear or not.
      • if that's true then I'm all with sticking it to the pigs. Though that blade cuts both ways and if you're honest you'll have to admit the government does sometimes change the rules on people and someone else to pay for it out of their own pockets.

        Neither policy should be tolerated. If they're scamming the government then by all means nail them. If the government screwed them then stick it to them instead. Someone else pointed out that "we" pay for the government's mistakes. That's true. Doesn't change who's

    • It's easy to forget that when these reactors were set up the world was a different place. The "retirement" accounts for these reactors probably assumed a MUCH lower retirement cost. So it's not the fault of the utility if there isn't enough money in the accounts if the rules changed between point A and point B.

      On the contrary, the utility is/should be very much responsible for this contingency. This is just like a margin call. When prices and regulations change, it's up to the utility to replenish

      • So you believe the utility has UNLIMITED liability?

        *laughs*

        Have fun enforcing that, sport. The buck will be passed. So while you're at it try to make it as expensive as possible.

        Enjoy the tax hike. ;-)

        • If you break it, you pay for it.

          If you pollute it, you clean it up.

          Do you really think it's ok to grab the profits now, and leave a mess for the next 50 years? Who are these business people who think they're owed special treatment? How about we break the corporate veil, post their names and addresses, and see if the public at large really wants to give them special treatment?

  • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:37PM (#39447369) Journal

    Hell yeah! Nuclear power plants going for cheap. I'll take one! Surplus ICBM silos are interesting, but have far too many drawbacks. But nuclear power plants? Those things are bigger than a city block, above ground, extremely stable, etc. I'd love to buy one.

    For starters, I think I'd start cutting up one of the cooling towers, until it looked like a giant medieval castle, just smooth and round instead of 4 stone walls. Re-enactments of Monty Python's & the Holy Grail are, of course, obligatory.

    After that, I'd have to buy as much flesh-tone paint as I can afford. It would take some time, but just think of it... http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_omMU_7Vv1us/S7aqBJUCP_I/AAAAAAAAAIE/HMaftmCYRGM/s1600/san-onofre_songs.jpg [slashdot.org]">Giant nuclear boobies!

    As an added bonus, nuclear power plants always need ample water, so you're guaranteed to get a private lake, river, or beachfront property, no matter which one you buy. They're also universally pretty close to mega population centers, so, while it's likely a nice quiet location, you won't be too far from a major city, unlike many of those silos.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:53PM (#39447455)
    Do it the way 1st world countries deal with e-waste and other heavy metal contaminated waste. Ship it off to a 3rd world country!
  • by Troggie87 (1579051) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @10:30PM (#39447651)

    This happens with many places that work with at least moderately radioactive material (not just reactors). What you do is tape the building/site in question off and allow it to sit for 1-2 decades. In that time the radioactivity typically decreases by orders of magnitude from decay. I can't speak to the cost savings, but so long as the site is properly fenced the safety concerns from handling all that waste go down by a lot. It isn't a bad decision in theory, but many small outfits just go "woops, can't pay to clean this up" and stick the EPA with the bill. Which is ackward, because you can't very well require the funds for cleanup up front because it would make buisnesses that use radiation in any significant way (radiopharmaceutical companies, as an example) impossibly expensive to start.

    But I suppose the point of this is to attack "evil nuclear," so I'm probably wasting my time even expaining the reality. That seems to be in fashion nowadays, reality be damned.

  • Pardon my ignorance on the subject, but why exactly must they be closed? I did some googling on this very question and couldn't find any straightforward answer.

  • let them sit like industrial relics for 20 to 60 years or even longer while interest accrues

    Wow, it's a good thing that interest rates are so high now that they will greatly outpace inflation and make the a reality. Time for the power companies to give themselves another round of bonuses for coming up with this one and making it someone else's problem. Oh, wait ....

  • Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @11:11PM (#39447811) Homepage

    Their plan is to get the government, and by association the taxpayer, to pay for the shutdown.

    There is, however, a flipside to this: should the need for energy suddenly sky-rocket, they will, no doubt, be recommissioned, with special permits to allow their continued operation (to the horror of the people who understand just how badly these reactors need to be replaced). The fun part is that we will then be continuing to run dangerously out of date nuclear power-plants, with all of the original design flaws; the government, with all of its spin, will play up the fact that they are saving the taxpayers billions of dollars in doing so.

    Those of us who are proponents of nuclear technology will, of course, facepalm with the force of thousand Arnold Schwarzeneggers at this development. The green lobby, of course, will scream at this continued injustice.

  • As Nuclear Reactors Age, the Money To Close Them Lags

    For many Slashdotters, money is usually what's needed to open lags, not close them.

  • "...including some whose licenses expire soon..."

    Of course, just because they are up for renewal doesn't mean they are at the end of their useful life, just that a bunch of luddites are fearful of them continuing to supply electricity.

    Guess it's time to renew those licenses instead of retiring the reactors, on the condition that all profits go to the retirement fund for the reactor in question?

    -- Terry

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