And there is a good solution for storage, but the allies of the fossil fuel industry have combined with the anti nuclear folks to block Yucca mountain from opening.
The DOE's own 1982 Nuclear Waste policy Act reported that the Yucca Mountain's geology is inappropriate to contain nuclear waste.
Specifically the Yucca mountain failed to meet the criteria for the DOE's original policy using the 'Defense in Depth' approach to the specification for building a spent fuel containment facility. The reason to choose that specific geology (in addition to being stable) was also to have the geologic chemistry of the rock able to mitigate the effect of ground water traveling through the facility and carrying radioactive isotopes into the water table. The half lives of the actinides would be dependent on the reactor and I've heard of figures around 600 years but it would also have to contain the daughter products before they were inert. So they would be shorter lived but also much more radioactive placing an even greater emphasis on having the geology mitigate the ground water migration to contain the isotopes.
The CSIRO found that this geology should be granite, Yucca mountian is pumice. There is also the fact that the area is geologically unstable, where the original specificaion is looking for somewhere that would be stable for 500,000 years, IIRC.
I haven't heard about any evidence about the lobby groups you are refering to, however if you can refer me to something specific I will gladly check it out.
Bury the nuclear waste deep in the earth, because that is where it came from in the first place.
Absolutely, specifically in a granite mountain would be good. The Swiss have a world leading project
but it hasn't caused any deaths.
I get it that a lot of people don't understand how bio-accumulation occurs in the environment and how long it takes for cancer to gestate. You only have to look to Chernobyl to understand that the consequences of a Nuclear accident is very long, slow and permanent.
What we have learned is that it took about 6-8 years for the consequences to begin manifesting in children as Thyroid cancer. The funding was cut on this vital research work so not data is being collected anymore to understand what the impact is.
It's more reasonable to say "there is no data being collected to establish how many deaths have been caused at Chernobyl". We can only hope that the science is being done this time around.
As for "Such a fire will render the U.S "virtually" uninhabitable.".... a hundred nuclear weapons were detonated on the US mainland as part of above ground nuclear weapons tests. While I think that was incredibly stupid and irresponsible and there have certainly been health effects and increased cancer deaths in the decades afterwards, the radiation leaks at nuclear power plants pale in comparison to the radiation released by those above ground tests and as far as I can tell the US is still inhabitable.
First of all, I'm talking about radioactive isotopes, not about the radiation that they emit.
Second, a nuclear weapon may contain 1 kilo of pu-239. I think there was about 50 tests, but lets double that and call it an even 100kilos of pu-239, which was also converted to a lot of energy all at once and spread over the country.
A single core of a GE Mk1 reactor is roughly 150 tons. 4 reactors x 50 tons every 10 years for 40 years makes about 800 tons of transuranic material, but let's be conservative and say half that, is about 40 times the amount of raw material of all all the testing over the entire country country, just not converted into energy all at once like the tests.
A micro gram of pu-239 is a fatal dose [oppenhiemer] causing leukemia and lung cancer and whilst not all of them will be ingested the sheer volume of material that would be released during the course of such a fire as clorides and oxides leaves little doubt that the US would be the main land mass, due to the course of the jet stream, to receive the brunt of the fallout.
Not that you would notice immediately, it might take a while and is unlikely to be pleasant or swift, that is why all the effort at Fukushima is to control the spent fuel pool for reactor 4.
I for one hope it never happens. As it stands the consequences of Fukushima (and Chernobyl) will more than likely manifest in a reduced birth rate and increased complications is more than enough. Transgenic diseases will probably become more prominent for those who are born. So the sooner everything is brought back under control at Fukushima the better for us all.