BUT WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE WASTE?
Nuclear energy does not emit climate change-inducing greenhouse gases and is not intermittent. On the other hand, it has enormous costs and radioactive waste problems that won’t go away for generations. About nuclear, it is really important to ask one simple question: Is this the infrastructure you want to build for your children and your children’s children?
Starting right now and using the same resources, it is possible to construct another kind of infrastructure. Yes, there are still problems to be solved in New Energy, wind and solar and waves and biomass and geothermal. But there are problems to solve with any kind of energy. Especially, as this article proves, with nuclear.
So, once again: What kind of infrastructure do you want to build for your children and your children’s children?
Panel Urges End to Nuke Waste Proposal
H. Josef Hebert, October 30, 2007 (AP)
A 17-member panel of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council
Sticking it in a hole in the ground under a mountain in Nevada is what to do because somebody's got to do something with it. But is that the kind of energy infrastructure to go on building when there is a better choice? (click to enlarge)
The panel recommended the Bush administration abandon its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) which would expand the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity. The panel concluded there were too many potential dangers in the GNEP plan.
- The GNEP was signed by the Bush administration in early 2006.
- The Panel’s recommendations were announced October 29.
- The US has not involved itself in nuclear fuel reprocessing since the 1970s due to the risk of the plutonium being used for weapons proliferation.
- The GNEP proposed that a small number of nuclear nations, including the US and Russia, reprocess spent fuel and supply it to other nuclear nations for reactor fuel.
- Nuclear reprocessing continues in Europe and Japan.
- Reprocessing would partially solve the problem of what to do with massive amounts of nuclear waste that have accumulated in the last half century and will continue to accumulate from the use of nuclear energy for generating electricity. The waste will remain dangerously radioactive for decades, centuries and even thousands of centuries.
- The panel found the GNEP depends on plans not adequately peer reviewed, reprocessing technology not yet proven or not yet ready for use (UREX). It also found GNEP was draining funds necessary for other areas of nuclear research as it rushed the creation of new nuclear power generation.
- The panel expressed doubt the waste disposal issue in the US can be successfully resolved.
- Congress has been reluctant to fully fund GNEP. The Bush administration asked for $395 million but only got $167 million. Long term costs: $20 billion to $40 billion.
- DOE claims UREX will resolve costs and problems with waste disposal. The panel disagreed and urged DOE to take up "Nuclear Power 2010" to identify new nuclear plant sites and ready a new generation of light water reactors.
Even when the fuel cycle is closed, there is waste to dispose of.
- Panel: "All committee members agree that the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program…[If GNEP proceeds as planned there will be] significant technical and financial risks."
- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: “[GNEP] represents the future of global nuclear power cooperation…[and will] allow for a greater global reliance on civilian nuclear power to produce the electricity needed…"
- Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary for nuclear energy, DOE: “[Most panel members accept the need to] close the fuel cycle…[though conclusions were] a misconception of the (GNEP) program…[DOE] fully recognizes the complexity and time needed. ... We are talking about something that will, in fact, take decades to develop."