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[cdn-nucl-l] Re: Yucca Mountain and Recycle spent fuel
I've been musing about the spent fuel/nuclear "waste" problem for a while
now, and I can't, for the life of me, understand why we NEED Yucca Mountain.
We are already storing "spent" fuel rods in water-filled cooling tanks for
extended periods of time (I think 30 years in some cases...). At a few
NPP's "cold" rods have been shifted to "dry" storage silos. It would seem
that the fuel rods in dry storage are already in a condition to be recycled:
i.e. all the "hot" isotopes have decayed to a very low level.
What if, instead of digging YM, we simply built on the National Fuel
Recycling Plant Reservation - or whatever we call it - a sufficient of
number of dry storage silos to house the incoming fuel rods, and then some
more, as needed, of course, to hold the "waste"? Don't bother sticking it
underground - its hard to retrieve there, and we can always bury the
now-even-colder "waste" if we ever decide that we REALLY don't need the
I saw some details of the dry storage silos: really heavy structures made of
steel-reinforced and heavily borated concrete. With a nice heavy concrete
lid on top. The sort of thing you need a REALLY heavy-duty crane to pick
up, never mind the crane you need to move the fuel rods around.
If the National Fuel Recycling Plant Reservation (NFRPR) were situated in a
mountainous location - say in a narrow winding valley that a bird has
trouble flying through, much less a 767, then that eliminates one problem:
that some idiot is going to try to meet Allah after flying a plane into the
storage structures. They could, of course, be built partially sunk into the
ground so as to reduce the height exposed to such traffic, and also the
crane(s) need not be so tall, but I don't think that precaution is really
necessary. And a mountainous area is easier to guard: look where they
located Los Alamos National Laboratory.
And such an area would be far from populations who would be "exposed to that
I'm sure that in the American and Canadian West there must be some
mountainous area with narrow, steep-sided valleys and a fair-sized river
(for process cooling water) not too far away. Preferably located in a
sparsely inhabited area, maybe one with nothing much else to do to as far as
making a living goes: it ought to be quite a shot in the arm economically.
What is the staffing of a reprocessing/"waste" storage area going to be? 500
to 1000, guard force and administrative dead weight included? Drop 500 to
1000 new consumers, complete with wives and children down in an economically
depressed area and watch the locals SMILE. There goes the local opposition,
About the only major improvement(s) that would have to be made, aside from
the plant itself and housing, etc., for the staff, would be a heavy-duty
rail link and/or road link for the shipment of spent fuel rods in and new
rods out. Also any additional low-level waste that we decide to drop into a
dry storage silo - if it is safe for the "hot" stuff it should be safe for
the "not-so-hot" stuff too. Add a small airport for "executive" traffic and
The hospital that you are going to build for the staff can serve the locals
too. Ditto the schools.
The locals will take care of shopping, entertainment, etc., if you don't
piss them off with a snotty attitude.
And if Canada can be convinced to overlook the absolutely SHITTY attitude my
(shudder) government can assume some times (most of the time, I admit), and
we two nations can build ONE plant to handle the requirements of BOTH of us,
then that is a further savings.
And we have some place to store all that stuff we have stored at PanTex and
Hanford and West Valley and where-ever-else they dumped the "waste" for all
And eliminates the problem(s) with Yucca Mountain. It becomes just another
hole in the ground that the Dept. of Energy dug in the ground but couldn't
Kills several birds with one stone - always a good idea as far as I can see.
----- ed oleen -----
It is one thing to have an open mind. It is quite another to have one so
empty that the wind blows thru it...