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Yucca Mountain, Open For Business 366

Posted by chrisd
from the but-I-didn't-know-I-was-moving-next-door-to-the-test-site dept.
John Galt writes: "It seems the Feds have finally decided that Nevada will host the government's nuclear waste repository." The Yucca Mountain project has been in the works for a while. Here is a cutaway diagram.
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Yucca Mountain, Open For Business

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  • by crayz (1056) on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:13AM (#2822360) Homepage
    one nuclear power plant makes 30,000lbs of waste per year. sending one pound of something into space costs $10,000.

    now multiply those two numbers together to determine the cost of waste disposal using your plan. for one plant. for one year. then ask yourself who is going to pay for that
  • by zesnark (167803) <[zsn] [at] [fastfin.net]> on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:13AM (#2822361)
    "He said increased unease about terrorist attacks makes it even more important that the nation's radioactive waste be consolidated."

    Eggs. Basket. z
  • by zbuffered (125292) on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:16AM (#2822371)
    How much money could you squeeze out of the US govt. if you live next door, and turn up with cancer or lose your hair or go impotent or whatever? Enough to make the remainder of your life and your kids' lives comfortable, I would assume.
    And if you don't suffer any adverse effects, then what does it matter that there's nuclear waste next door?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:23AM (#2822398)
    If this waste is supposed to be generating temperatures of 400 degrees, why can't it be used to generate power? Not even anti-nuclear people could argue against it; its already nuclear waste.
  • Problems.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ishark (245915) on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:32AM (#2822411)
    From the link:

    Energy Department scientists contend those issues either have been resolved or can be dealt with as a final design for the facility goes through the licensing process.

    I don't understand: if there still are issues which are not resolved, how can the decision to put the dump there be taken? What if the issues CANNOT be dealt with during the final phase? Does anyone believe that they will they be able to admit and back out?
    I'm not surprised that the local politicians (and I suppose also the population) are NOT happy about it....

    Also, in the post-9/11 world it'll be much harder to keep en eye on what's happening as "for security reasons" lots of stuff has been pulled from the Internet. For example, in France we have a recycling site at La Hague [cogemalahague.fr] which used to give access to many webcams inside the installation (the new director's policy was "absolute transparency" to reassure citizens), but now they are offline....
  • by pgpckt (312866) on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:44AM (#2822445) Homepage Journal
    SECURITY NOTICE

    The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management promotes the open review of documents by the public during the Yucca Mountain site recommendation consideration process. However, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, we have removed certain content from our Internet site to minimize the risk of providing potentially sensitive information that could result in adverse impacts to National security. The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management apologizes for any inconvenience that this action may cause. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these difficult times.

    Translation:
    We support open disclosure. Except to you. Or anyone else that might care about the safety of radioactive waste. I mean, not providing this info on the internet is to prevent terrorism! So that's good!

    (sigh)
    Will Sept 11th be the excuse for the de facto revoking of sunshine laws and intrusions on liberties? I think maybe.
  • by baptiste (256004) <mike.baptiste@us> on Friday January 11, 2002 @07:14AM (#2822508) Homepage Journal
    Yes, in an ideal world we'd produce electricity without producing hazardous waste, etc. But the bottom line is we're building up loads of waste. Its got to be stored somewhere and somewhere secure. Like a previous poster said, talk about an ideal target for a terrorist. Many of these power companies have the waste stored outside on cemet pads surrounded by motion sensors, razor wire fence, armed guards and such, but a determined terrorist could still get to it if he wanted. This stuff needs to be stored in a secure location. Here in NC, our local power co, CP&L stores its waste in holding pools, allowing for denser storage of the fuel rods. There was a huge fight with a nearby county about the expansion of those pools (Currently only one is in use and CP&L wanted to bring another online) Both sides spent millions claiming the other was wrong. But in the end? Its an easy target. One well placed technician who knows his stuff could find a way to empty that pool or disable the cooling system and you've got three mile island all over again as teh rods boil off the water and start a reaction - remember, these things aren't inside a cement surrounded reactor vessel - they're open on top for access.

    What kills me is millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in non stop fights over this site. Yes, nobody wats it in their backyard and if I lived near the site (like within a few hundred miles) I'd probably think about moving. But in this world if its not a nuclear dump, its a real dump, a highway going through your house, high tension utility wires, etc. I'm currently in teh study area for a divided highway, with oone of the routes going straight through our house. Sucks huge not knowin if you'll still be allowed to own your house X years from now - nice to know that none of us realyl OWN our land :)

  • by morbid (4258) on Friday January 11, 2002 @07:19AM (#2822516) Journal
    Much better idea:

    Put the plutonium in a fast reactor and generate electricity while reducing the quantity of plutonium and creating shorter-lived daugter products. So, that's (1) reducing the amount of plutonium (2) getting electricity out of it (3) reducing the waste storage cost.
    The problem is getting the screaming hedgemonkies in Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to let you do it since it impinges on their superstitious beliefs.
  • Re:Problems.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mike Connell (81274) on Friday January 11, 2002 @07:53AM (#2822577) Homepage
    Perhaps they have in the back of their minds the fact that at the moment the waste is being stored all over the country in various temporary containment facilities.

    I don't know for a fact, but perhaps even with the known problems for the new site, they still think it's better than the current situation.

    0.02
  • by mirko (198274) on Friday January 11, 2002 @08:06AM (#2822605) Journal
    The price estimation you gave is the current one.
    Now, if everybody consider doing this, won't the cost dramatically decrease to some more reasonable level ?
    We should start thinking about mass-space-travelling so that price won't mater as much anymore.
    Maybe our grand-children will be able to spend their honeymoon on the moon.
    I know I sound a bit optimistic but if somebody had told our parents some people would walk on the moon, they wouldn't have believed it.
  • Wait, how do we trust this guy at all? They have a *huge* political agenda. Quote:

    "SOCIAL ACTIVISTS, such as the "food police," environmental extremists, and gun-control advocates, may use junk science to achieve social and political change."

    But polluting corporations and gun-control foes aren't mentioned... hmm...

    If you look at the papers this dude writes for, it's pretty clear where his politics lie. Ooh, look, here's even something attacking evolution:
    http://www.junkscience.com/aug99/darwin.htm
    Yes, I know it's not by the site's main dude, but he printed it.

    Notice that first paragraph. Do you want to talk about fucking junk science? There's no reference there! Maybe this "chinese scientist" is a total crackpot. Maybe the bones are really planted. Who knows? The only way to find out is to examine her research -- preferably, in a peer-reviewed jounal. Anyway, it ignores punctuated equilibrium.
  • by NearlyHeadless (110901) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:27AM (#2823029)
    Another question is how do you keep the site marked, and perceived as dangerous, for 10K years? What message will last through whatever potential societal chaos/collapse/evolution is a'comin?

    You don't, but it doesn't really matter. The stuff that is most radioactive decays very rapidly, so it's not really all that dangerous.

    Anyway, it's bogus to assume that future civilizations are going to be more ignorant than we are. We can't avoid all possible dangers to the future citizens of the world. If civilization collapses and people are unable to read English or use Geiger counters, I think they have bigger problems than worrying about one dangerous site.


    People lose their perspective when it comes to nuclear energy. Over 1,000 people a year die because of the relatively mild CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards, yet we're supposed to worry about one reckless miner 10,000 years from now?


    By the way, the 1,000 people per year is a conservative estimate, it is NOT auto-industry hype and it is NOT because large cars plow into small cars. The last time I mentioned this on slashdot, somebody ignorantly said it was and he was, of course, moderated up as insightful. Here's a good article from USA Today [serve.com] about this issue.

  • Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:33AM (#2823053) Homepage
    NPR is reporting this morning that the plan cannot go forward until Nevada has agreed to it. Their Congressional delegation is strongly opposing it, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) is also against it. Until Nevada agrees to it, nothing will happen until Congress votes on it. And they won't vote for it while Daschle is in the driver's seat.

    Nevada and Congress are aware of the issues involved in keeping this stuff in temporary locations, but there is a big NIMBY issue as well.

    IMO, it can't hurt to be very, very, very sure this will be safely stored. A couple more years of study are not all that much when you consider this crap will still be radioactive 10,000 years from now.
  • by jamie (78724) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:46AM (#2823103) Journal
    Here's Robert Heinlein on nuclear waste. Expanded Universe, 1980, pp. 566-7. The President of the United States is speaking to one of her advisors:
    She touched a switch. "Get me the head of the U.S. Engineers. How would you dispose of nuclear power plant wastes? Rocket them onto the Moon as someone urged last week? Why wouldn't the Sun be better? We may want to go back to the Moon someday."

    "Oh, my, no! Neither one, Ma'am."

    "Why not? Some of those byproducts are poisonous for hundreds of years, so I've heard. No?"

    "You heard correctly. But the really rough ones have short half-lives. The ones with long half-lives -- hundreds, even thousands of years, or longer -- are simple to handle. But don't throw away any of it, Ma'am. Not where you can't recover it easily."

    "Why not? We're speaking of wastes. I assume that we have extracted anything we can use."

    "Yes, Ma'am, anything we can use. But our great grandchildren are going to hate you. Do you know the only use the ancient Romans had for petroleum? Medicine, that's all. I don't know how those isotopic wastes will be used next century ... any more than those old Romans could guess how very important oil would become. But I certainly wouldn't throw those so-called wastes into the Sun!

  • Re:Problems.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ender81b (520454) <billd@inebraskNETBSDa.com minus bsd> on Friday January 11, 2002 @11:51AM (#2823428) Homepage Journal
    Of course they haven't answered the questions of saftey - they're is no way they can. No place on earth is *designed* to hold nuclear waste or, really, suitable. However the U.S. has a 50 year stockpile of the stuff sitting around in temporary containters that are a hell of a lot less safe than Yucca mountain.

    What you should be saying is that you are glad that after 80 billion dollars (if that is the real amount) and 20 years of study Yucca still looks like the best choice. For us to *not* spend every possible resource to dispose of radioactive waste which will be harmful for 10,000 years would be a criminal affront to future generations. You should be glad that your government is doing it's best to look ahead for future generations, hell future governments, and making sure that this waste is disposed of probably.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2002 @01:21PM (#2823972)
    Abosolute nonsense. What about the towns of Beatty and Amaragosa Valley? Consider the groundwater movement of radionuclides when the containers corrode towards Amargosa Valley. Would you like to live there and drink the water?
  • Re:Sub-Seabed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2002 @01:48PM (#2824214)
    Under the seabed, you just have silt. I don't know if you've ever messed with stuff from the bottom of a body water, but it doesn't exactly lend itself to diffusion. Plus, a lot of these materials are solids, which diffuse even slower.

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