Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Earth Power Science

New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-I-leave-this-here? dept.
mdsolar writes in with news about a NRC rule on how long nuclear waste can be stored on-site after a reactor has shut down. The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses. The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country. In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule. "The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined that spent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste

Comments Filter:
  • Ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phil Karn (14620) <karn&ka9q,net> on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @06:18PM (#47770427) Homepage
    I agree that waste in casks at nuclear power plants is reasonably safe but it would still be better to move it to Yucca Mountain. If nothing else, security would be a lot cheaper. It's utterly ridiculous that all that money was spent on a waste repository that, thanks to NIMBYism on the part of Nevada politicians, doesn't look like it'll be used any time soon. At least nuclear waste is the one form of toxic waste that will eventually go away on its own. Arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium and other chemical poisons remain toxic forever.
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @06:45PM (#47770601) Homepage

      Let's blame the people responsible- Nevada voters. The politicians are just representing their constituents. I supported the Yucca Mountain project before I moved to Nevada and I would be an asshole to change my opinion afterward.

      The proposed site is over 100 miles from Vegas in the absolute middle of nowhere. Even if they stored the waste in a big open pit above ground, it still wouldn't affect anyone.

      But people here are terrified about transporting the waste along the rail lines through town. There is a freight train that goes literally 100 feet from my office every day with tanker cars full of ammonia and sodium hydroxide. Nobody bats an eye.

      • Let's blame the people responsible- Nevada voters. The politicians are just representing their constituents.

        ... and one of those politicians is Harry Reid [wikipedia.org], the most powerful man in the Senate. But after the election on November 4th, he likely won't be the majority leader anymore.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Mr D from 63 (3395377)
          Reid singlehandedly tried to undermine the NRC from the top by appointing (via BO) Jaszko as NRC chair. Putting an incompetent political appointee in charge of an agency as important as the NRC is its own form of willful negligence. Thankfully he was driven out when it became clear he was not fit to hold such a position.
          • Did the right thing to pull the plug on Yucca. Fabrication of data pretty much made proceeding impossible. He was handing out license extensions like candy and won't be missed on that account, but I think he would not have pulled this bozo move. Indefinite above ground storage in flood plains? What can they be thinking?
            • They're thinking that this Congress can't even get with the decades old plan that was already in motion, and can't do anything besides name post offices and bicker about how the other party is the problem.

              The clock is winding down on this Congress, they're hoping the next one might actually get their shit together. It's stupendously unlikely, but they're gonna hope anyway.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Even if they stored the waste in a big open pit above ground, it still wouldn't affect anyone.

        We actually tried that in the UK, at places like Sellafield, and it didn't work out very well. Stuff started to grow in the ponds, rain water mixed in, birds picked it up and flew off with it, it evaporated into rainwater...

        • The state of Nevada is larger than the entire UK. You can't really grasp what real "empty space" looks like until you drive through the desert out here.

      • That's because sodium hydroxide and ammonia don't use the scary word "nuclear".

        Never mind that nuclear waste has been shipped around all over the place for decades - does anyone think the US Navy just lets that shit sit on the dock after it's removed from aircraft carriers and submarines?

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      I agree that waste in casks at nuclear power plants is reasonably safe but it would still be better to move it to Yucca Mountain. If nothing else, security would be a lot cheaper. It's utterly ridiculous that all that money was spent on a waste repository that, thanks to NIMBYism on the part of Nevada politicians, doesn't look like it'll be used any time soon. At least nuclear waste is the one form of toxic waste that will eventually go away on its own. Arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium and other chemical poisons remain toxic forever.

      Yucca mountain is not a suitable site because it is made of pumice and geologically active evidenced by recent aftershocks of 5.6 within ten miles of a repository that is supposed to be geologically stable for at least 500000 years. The DOE's own 1982 Nuclear Waste policy Act reported that Yucca Mountain's geology is inappropriate to contain nuclear waste, and long term corrosion data on C22 (the material to contain the Pu-239 and mitigate the ingress of water revealed by Studies of the Yucca mountain hydr [sciencedirect.com]

      • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Phil Karn (14620) <karn&ka9q,net> on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @09:25PM (#47771537) Homepage
        Not far from Yucca Mountain you will find hundreds if not thousands of craters under which are buried the fission and activation products of decades of US nuclear testing. They're not reprocessed and contained in silica glass, they were simply mixed (quite violently) with the soil and rock. And yet they don't seem to go anywhere. There is no need for Yucca Mountain to contain reactor waste for even a hundred years because it will surely be removed and burned as fuel in fast reactors. Once people wake up to the fact that global warming is a vastly greater threat than nuclear power, and that nuclear power is just as essential as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro in combating it, people will realize that "spent" fuel from light water reactors is far too valuable to just throw away.
  • by bobbied (2522392) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @06:43PM (#47770587)

    Yucca mountain is a no go for political reasons, not scientific ones, so what else can we do?

    The really sad thing is that there still is a lot of useable fuel in all that if we here allowed to reprocess it. Not to mention that reprocessing would greatly reduce the size of the high level waste. Carter really messed up with that decision...

    So, for now, it's store in place and guard the stuff. But this is only really a problem until it cools enough to not require being under water anymore. After that guarding it isn't that hard or expensive. It can be packaged in such a way that getting into it would take hours and industrial equipment. Guarding it just means walking by every day or so and making sure nobody is messing with the containers.

    • by brambus (3457531)
      Carter's ban was reversed a few years later. The true problem is the lack of a national policy on the way forward with this. The original nuclear pioneers envisioned us burning up the spent fuel in fast reactors. That was pretty much put on hold indefinitely when 20 years the Clinton administration cut the funding for the project just short of producing the first commercially viable fast reactor power plant designs. This could have been solved problem were it not for the environmentalist policy of stalling
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        It's pretty pathetic that the pro-nuclear crowd have to blame unnamed eco-hippies for all their woes. A bunch of apparently quite dumb, reactionary and fearful people somehow dictate policy for multi billion dollar industry with armies of lawyers and wads of cash to throw at lobbying.

        The simple reality is that all this wonderful new technology just isn't economically viable. The cost of development and the risk that after spending tens of billions it won't work or make any money is just too high. There are

        • by brambus (3457531)
          I admit I was oversimplifying a bit when I said the environmentalists caused nuclear R&D in this country to get all but killed outright. Of course it's a bit more complicated and you need to follow the money to find out who's really behind the push. Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club [time.com] and campaigns like Solar not nuclear [atomicinsights.com] have often been financed by fossil fuel industries, the reason being that these industries knew damn well that while solar & wind might pose a threat down the line b
          • > Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club [time.com] and campaigns like Solar not
            > nuclear [atomicinsights.com] have often been financed by fossil fuel industries

            And was the financing of attacks greater or less than the amount the same fossil fuel industries spent denigrating these same people that you say are the problem? I'd like to see the numbers, because it's relatively easy to find that millions of dollars have been spent on the anti-solar campaign:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/o

            • by brambus (3457531)
              I was talking about how they all but shut down the nuclear industry 20-30 years ago, not what they're doing today.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          A bunch of apparently quite dumb, reactionary and fearful people somehow dictate policy for multi billion dollar industry with armies of lawyers and wads of cash to throw at lobbying.

          That's the dark side of democracy. Everyone can see there's something very wrong with the world, and no one wants to look into their own soul to see what it is. So any demagogue who comes out and blames it on someone else never lacks followers. Fear sells, but beyond fear it's the good old "the world will become a paradise jus

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Carter really messed up with that decision...

      We can change that any time. Don't blame Carter. It's being done deliberately. Ask yourself who stands to gain if the status quo is maintained.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Carter really messed up with that decision...

        We can change that any time. Don't blame Carter. It's being done deliberately. Ask yourself who stands to gain if the status quo is maintained.

        Bush was going down that road, but Obama reversed course. The On and Off nature of political support for this makes it impossible to actually do here in the US. The facilities that are used for this are complicated, expensive and take years to build and are dangerous for years after they are shutdown. Until the environmentalists loose control of the left, the democratic position will be "no" on reprocessing.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          OK, so this is an assertion that the reps are for reprocessing, and the dems against. So is this a deliberately static situation, in which both sides are benefiting from the status quo, or is this a case of the democrats being the ones profiting the most? Because even environmentalists overwhelmingly believe what they're told.

    • The key problem with Yucca is scientific misconduct with data fabrication that taints the site beyond recall. Once the USGS scientists engaged in that, there is no clear way to understand what else may have been compromised. http://www.senaahq.bravehost.c... [bravehost.com]
      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Still, it would have been better just to bury this stuff in Yucca mountain. Given the situation, it would be safer. Of course, my personal feelings are that we should reprocess this fuel, bury the really bad stuff in Yucca and use the rest. Lather, rinse and repeat until all the fuel is used, or just store reprocessed fuel it until nuclear becomes cost effective again.

        Yucca is/was safe, questions about the data not withstanding.

        • Nuclear power is on the way out. It just can't get costs down and alternatives are getting cheaper and they will remain cheaper. The money to deal with the waste needs to be stockpiled now while there is still some revenue to tap. Just the opposite is happening however.
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @07:54PM (#47771031) Homepage Journal
    A portable accelerator could transmute the waste at each reactor site. The places are already well connected to the grid so bringing power to transmute the waste to stable isotopes would not be a problem. Just think of nuclear power as something that must be repaid.
    • by brambus (3457531)
      Accelerators produce minuscule amounts of particles, so huge amounts of energy are be needed to produce enough spallation neutrons to fission the spent fuel. It takes about 50 MeV [wikipedia.org] to produce a spallation neutron, assuming almost every neutron eventually produces a fission, it'll still produce >200 MeV per fission. What you're proposing is essentially a deeply subcritical power reactor that just dumps all the power produced over board. Just to give you a sense of scale involved here, to fission down 1 kg
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        Reactors cause accidents. Accelerators won't. It is expensive because of all the prior improper risk taking.
        • by brambus (3457531)

          Reactors cause accidents. Accelerators won't.

          I don't know which Amory Lovins lie tract you got this information from, but it is quite false, I assure you. Accelerator driven systems are *still* nuclear reactors, just subcritical ones, i.e. the reaction is non-self-sustaining. They still require heavy shielding and containment, they still require fuel fabrication, they still require high-power cooling systems while operating, they still require decay heat removal after shutdown and they still make fission product waste. The only meaningful difference i

          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            An accelerator can disrupt the fission products directly. You are thinking of the transuranics with your spallation target. http://large.stanford.edu/cour... [stanford.edu] But, the fission products can themselves be proton targets and be disrupted right down to hydrogen.

            I understand that you have a strange love for nuclear power. But for those of us who see it realistically, your love of power is a classic of mythology which always ends badly. Nuclear power has its place in naval propulsion, but in a civilian conte
            • by brambus (3457531)
              Gosh, mdsolar, you know just enough to confuse yourself into thinking you know it all. The page you cited talks about exactly what I talked about, an accelerator-driven power reactor that still produces fission product waste and notably doesn't destroy fission product nuclei by splitting them. You don't even have an idea of the energy required to do so. Below Fe56, fission is a net energy loss [wikimedia.org], even assuming you could somehow get the nucleus to fission (FP cross sections are tiny compared to TRUs). Essentia
              • by mdsolar (1045926)
                That is precisely what I am suggesting. Your proposal still risks meltdown while the accelerator controlled system may avoid that. But it does not get all the fission products. For those, further fission through proton collision will do the trick. And yes, that costs energy. Notice we are not looking at neutron cross sections here. Heck, we could accelerate the fission products themselves and have them as both bullet and target. There's a smashing solution to the nuclear waste problem.
                • by brambus (3457531)

                  Your proposal still risks meltdown while the accelerator controlled system may avoid that.

                  No, they don't avoid that. Meltdowns at both TMI and Fukushima occurred hours after the system had been completely shut down (Chernobyl wasn't a meltdown, they had a power excursion due to a prompt criticality situation in a faulty reactor design which was known to have this problem from the outset). This is caused due to decay heat from short-lived fission products which accumulated in the nuclear fuel as a result of fission. This is the same irrespective of whether fission was initiated by a neutron from

                  • by mdsolar (1045926)
                    Heavy ion colliders are built to much higher energy than this would require. Your sense of scale may be off. And, keeping a lid on the rate of transmutation keeps away from a meltdown. Seems like 30 years in better than 100,000 years.
                    • by brambus (3457531)
                      I'm talking about particle intensities (measured in amps), not particle energies (measured in eV). My sense of scale is not off, these are just basic back of the envelope calculations. These machines simply do not exist. The 30 years was using an accelerator which is hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than anything that exists today (so in fact using real accelerators it would take more like thousands to millions of years). I think I've made my case quite clear:
                      1) Accelerator-driven systems are s
                    • by mdsolar (1045926)
                      Come on, the Bevatron could do this. You are getting all worked up over nothing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]
                    • by brambus (3457531)
                      The Bevatron could only muster beam currents of less than 100 microamps, so even assuming every proton disintegrated a target nucleus (which is highly optimistic! I'm ignoring collision cross sections here completely), 1kg of 100-atom mass material contains about 6x10^24 particles, so it would take... over 300 years to completely obliterate. Or 300000 years if we're talking about 1 ton of material. Oh and the Bevatron needed ~100 MW of electrical power to operate, so the cost of operating it for 300 years t
                    • by mdsolar (1045926)
                      Beam luminosity increases in response to detector capability. No big issue there. The Bevatron power draw has something to do with not using super conducting magnets as well. The main thing is that it is not big and can be run by a single graduate assistant on the night shift. Recall also that wind power sells for $0.025 per kWh and solar will come in below that soon. Don't forget also that the nuke nuts (oops fanbois) are always going on about how much the first step will reduce the mass of the waste.
                    • by brambus (3457531)
                      Before I start addressing your new claims (and there's plenty wrong with even your last post), I want you to admit that you were wrong when you said "the Bevatron could do this", as I clearly showed you it couldn't. If you're not even capable of doing that, then there's no sense in talking to you.
                    • by mdsolar (1045926)
                      The BEVALAC, which I linked to, obviously could to the requires heavy ion acceleration in a compact configuration, So, it was your error, which you seem not to have realized, which is still misleading you.
        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          More to the point: It essentially takes more energy and money to eliminate the waste that way then what you got out of it in the first place.

          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            Yes, nuclear power was a mistake that must be paid for. Luckily, much cheaper energy will be available to do the repayment than was generated originally and it will continue to be available after the clean up job is done for fun things like space catapults, another kind of accelerator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
        • by ultranova (717540)

          It is expensive because of all the prior improper risk taking.

          It is expensive because you're deliberately trying to artificially inflate the cost of nuclear power in order to make renewables look better in comparison, just like the enviromentalists have been doing for decades. Unfortunately, that tactic won't work, since renewables aren't capable of providing reliable baseload power, so all you'll end up doing is shifting to gas and, once it runs out, coal.

  • Even the 60 year time frame is subject to risk that civil unrest in the environs of the waste would breach security. In the indefinite time frame, that becomes a dead certainty.
    • by Phil Karn (14620)
      And civil unrest becomes vastly more likely in a future with runaway global warming and the climatic changes, floods, draughts, food shortages, rising sea levels, mass extinctions, habitat destruction, economic upheavals and the like it will bring. Nuclear power, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are ALL essential to combat it.

      CO2's atmospheric lifetime is something like 1,000 years. How come those who fret about the longevity of nuclear waste never seem to talk about this? With fast reactors that burn th

  • How about a rule that after n years, they must either hand it over to the proper storage facility, or grind it up and airdrop it over the idiots who keep preventing anyone from building a proper storage facility.

  • I'll probably be modded down for expressing my opinion however this is a disappointing outcome for the Nuclear Industry.

    When Dixie Lee Ray was the head of the Atomic Energy Commission he proclaimed that the disposal of nuclear fuel would be “the greatest non-problem in history” and would be accomplished by 1985, yet here we are in 2014, almost thirty years past that date and still there is no acceptable high level waste disposal site anywhere. The closest anyone has come is the Swiss and eve

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      How ironic that this dodge is an expedient to try to license new plants.
      • by MrKaos (858439)

        How ironic that this dodge is an expedient to try to license new plants.

        It will appear that way but it won't be the result. The 2005 energy act disassembled the PUCHA put in place after the depression. Companies are now free to come in and make plans for locating pre-approved reactors and despite the claims of NIMBYism the same 2005 act denies local residents the right to have any involvement in the considerations for placing those reactors.

        Not that it matters. Only oil and coal companies have the financial clout to pay for reactors and this is a clear way for those companies

        • > Not that it matters. Only oil and coal companies have the financial clout to pay for reactors

          If an oil and gas company could do it, so could Apple or Google. But they're installing solar.

          Why? PV is $1.79/W in 2013, and nukes were around $8 to $10 depending on pre- or post-price-rise numbers (ie, Flamanville).

          There is exactly one reason nukes are in the dumps now: CAPEX. When someone figures out how to get that back down to the $4 range, they'll start building them again. As long as it remains north of

  • The DoE is responsible for dealing with the nuclear waste. The NRC is responsible for nuclear safety. This regulation indicates that they do not want to do their part of the job. A freeze on new plants should remain in place until DoE gets its act together. This claim that indefinite storage of nuclear waste out in the open is safe is obviously wrong. Now that the NRC has made it, then all their claims to be pursuing nuclear safety are suspect as well. The NRC is out to promote nuclear power at any co
  • Why am I not seeing much more discussion of the "Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor" (WAMSR)?

    http://news.discovery.com/tech... [discovery.com]

    According to the description, the WAMSR produces power like any other nuclear power station - but it is fuelled by "nuclear waste", which is essentially just fuel that has been 5% consumed and then discarded as no longer viable. Its proponents say that the WAMSR could provide all the power the human race needs until 2080, while using up all the nuclear waste that people are so up

  • Great. I guess that means the waste stored in metal shed buildings here at Indian Point can just stay there forever....a pile of dead radioactive waste, forty miles north of NYC, with a river that runs in two directions.... What could go wrong ? If the Roman Empire had nuclear power, we'd still be dealing with the waste. I'm for nuclear power, but allowing the waste to just sit there....well, you don't mess where you eat.....
  • and the storage problem would go away in a day. Hopefully the day of Reid's departure, natural or otherwise, comes soon. Then again Byrd lingered on for nearly a century...

    • Get rid of the far right and left, and fund new reactors. And yes, it is the far right that is blocking this as well.
  • lets get mPower from B&W, TransAtomic, and Flibe funded and building new reactors.
    In particular, mPower can have their first reactor ready in under 5 years. We should provide them a contract for 10 reactors which are then put in place in CA for water distillation, along with electricity.
    Then Transatomic and Flibe will take a while to get ready, but they are IDEAL for putting on-site at the old reactors, and burning up the 'waste' fuel. And it would allow the old reactors to be taken down slowly, with

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

Working...