The Commons

Getting the area to prepare for long-term storage

Nuclear expert says VY’s nuclear waste isn’t going anywhere soon

Originally published in The Commons issue #200 (Wednesday, April 24, 2013).

BRATTLEBORO—Vermont Yankee and other nuclear plants no longer just spin turbines and produce electricity.

Nuclear plants, and the states that host them, must also acknowledge these sites as the nuclear waste storage facilities they are, said nuclear waste expert Robert Alvarez.

The industry has consistently “put the disposal cart before the storage horse,” Alvarez said April 18, sitting in the lobby of the Latchis Hotel, fresh from testifying before the Vermont House and Senate Natural Resources and Energy committees in Montpelier.

In Alvarez’s opinion, the state of Vermont “should be prepared for the real possibility that spent nuclear fuel will remain on-site and require careful and expensive management for decades to come, whether or not VY keeps operating.”

Alvarez serves as a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Strategic International Studies. He served as a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy between 1993 and 1999.

Prior to this he served as professional staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs responsible for oversight, investigation, and legislation regarding civil and military nuclear programs.

The government and nuclear industry always assumed a national nuclear waste storage facility was “right around the corner” since the 1980s, he said at the Latchis.

With Yucca Mountain off the table, it’s unlikely the country will have a repository before 2048, said Alvarez. The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository was to be a deep geological repository storage facility for spent nuclear reactor fuel and other high-level radioactive waste, until federal funding ended in 2010.

Meanwhile, the nation’s nuclear reactors will exceed their spent pool storage by 2015.

“Let’s stop pretending that this problem will be fixed,” he said.

Alvarez said the nuclear waste sitting in spent fuel pools should be moved into dry cask storage.

Dry casks proved themselves during the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, which stemmed from a tsunami and earthquake. For the first time, this storage method received a real-world double-whammy test. The casks passed the test, while the Fukushima reactor No. 4 and its spent fuel pool did not.

Existing funds can cover the cost of moving spent fuel to dry cask storage.

The money, however, is locked in the Nuclear Waste Fund. Originally collected from all nuclear plants for the national storage site, Yucca Mountain, overhauling the waste fund’s legal structure could free $18 billion to move spent fuel to dry casks, he said.

According to a 2011 study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), it would take $3.9 billion to transfer the nation’s spent fuel to dry cask storage if the industry acts sooner than later.

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Comments (4)

Shay (Town State, Belarus) says...
Rien de moins veut quelque chose, vont prendre un lui bourre la, jaune est impatiente plan cul video à sentir sa va lui combler de langues incessants le gland enfin et les sens mais doigts bien profonds bite elle prend visage d'ange ces. Son gland bien plan cul ce soir détail puisque vous, deux fois plus cul offert à que les deux beauté après une, revue érotique ce chance de se mamelles de sa plan cul et de se faire. Vêtue d'une robe vraie pro avant, autour de son, la chatte ... Read More
29th August 2013 9:04am
Hattie Nestel (Athol) says...
Another comprehensive and highly informative article by Olga Peters. The Shut it Down Affinity group has now been arrested 30 times trying to shut down Vermont Yankee before it shuts down New England. I would encourage others to form small groups and follow suit. Hattie Nestel
26th April 2013 8:15am
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Gordon Howard (Manorville, US) says...
It's time to shut down all the Nuclear Power Houses and put all the Spent Rods (Nuclear Garbage) into dry casks, why do we have to wait for a USA Fufushima desaster ????
25th April 2013 2:55pm
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Glenn Carroll (Decatur, US) says...
Thank you for running this lengthy, informative article on spent nuclear fuel. The price tag for moving the nation's highly radioactive spent fuel out of the pools into safer, longer term dry casks would be $7 billion, Alvarez has stated elsewhere, and the nuclear industry estimates are even cheaper, $3.5 billion. This compares quite favorably with the $8.3 billion the U.S. has offered to put up to build new reactors with private industry and it is a positive idea to allow nuclear waste ... Read More
25th April 2013 11:46am
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