Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository: Shut Down

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Darth_Yuthura, Mar 27, 2010.

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  1. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Ever since the dawn of the atomic era, the US has since needed the procurement of a repository by which to secure nuclear waste products indefinitely. For over two decades, that location was to be Yucca Mountain.

    After decades of planning and construction, and billions of dollars later; all that has amounted to nothing. Yucca Mountain remains far from completed, but the congress had pulled the plug on the project as of March 10th of this year. Now we're exactly where we were decades ago, with no alternative sight to store nuclear waste, billions of dollars short, and decades behind for the construction of a new sight... if there will be a new one planned.

    How did this happen? I know that the sight had so many legal barriers to overcome, budget shortcomings, and whiny Nevada citizens protesting the repository; but I still believe it was more important to continue the project than to give in and throw it all away. It's not as though Yucca Mountain was just a pile of sunk costs, but any new construction sight will inevitably face the same problems as this one.

    Thoughts? Comments? Ideas?
  2. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    They just need to keep the materials on-site at each location or maybe have a more regional approach than one single location for all of it.

    But it is crazy that after all this time they were still trying to do it.

  3. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Do you have any idea how expensive and potentially dangerous that would be? For the first decade or two, the idea was to suspend spent fuel in decontamination pools until they were safe enough to be removed from the sight. The problem was that there had never been such a sight built. When these pools were being loaded beyond their capacity, they short term solution was to build more and more of these expensive facilities. Once that became out of the option, they removed the oldest spent fuel rods into temporary storage. Most of the dry caskets used to encase the radioactive materials on sight were only another short term solution which were never intended for permanent storage.

    As these dry caskets pile up, they pose a much greater hazard than the power plant itself. People at such locations don't want these dangerous materials sitting outside the reactor dome indefinitely. Nevada citizens complain as well, but they're not the ones who's safety would be compromised by allowing the repository to be built. I don't know how significantly they slowed down Yucca Mountain's progress, but they shouldn't be allowed to stand in the way of the repository if it means compromising the safety of millions who live around nuclear plants.
  4. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Yeah but how is transporting these materials all across the U.S. to a single location not potentially hazardous as well?
  5. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Yeah. For every one of those trucks that leaks and creates a superhero, there are TEN leaky trucks each creating a superVILLAIN!

    Assuming, of course, that comics and cartoons have given me a solid understanding of nuclear waste and its biological effects on humans...
  6. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Transporting nuclear material requires the highest level of safety measures you can imagine. The containers which house the hazardous cargo are put through the most intense testing procedures for any expected and unexpected dangers associated with transportation. A truck can withstand an impact from a train, thousands of degrees of temperature, acids, sabotage, the works.

    And that's assuming a worst-case scenario. Unless someone should attempt to cause such an accident to happen, it's highly unlikely that any one shipment would be compromised.
  7. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    You can't just point at one state and say "tag you're it!" and then call the people who live there "whiny." Yucca Mountain failed because the Federal government didn't bother to get the citizens of Nevada on their side.

    I was listening to NPR talk about this, and dry storage casks pose no immediate problem, and can be safely stored on site for 100 years. Yes eventually they will need to be moved, but what's the rush? The storage of nuclear waste is a VERY long term issue and you can't just force us low population density states to accept your trash when we didn't even make it.
  8. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    [/quote]

    Not in my back yard. Is that it?

    What of those who seriously have nuclear waste only a few miles from where they live? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. And I'd hardly call Yucca Mountain to be in anyone's back yard. It's over a hundred miles away from any major settlements, on the edge of a former nuclear test sight, and is the ideal location for such a facility. For anyone to complain about it is just being paranoid.

    And it really doesn't matter whether they get the support of Nevada citizens or not. The state would have been given compensation for supporting the sight, so it's not just something imposed unfairly. If it's in the interest of national security, then there should be nothing wrong with construction of the sight in an area where no one's lives are affected in any event.
  9. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    It's nice you are so generous with others backyards.

    I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but we live in a democracy and since the people who were trying to push through Yucca Mountain didn't think about that and pay attention to the needs of the few, you lost. You are the one whining about Yucca Mountain being shut down, when really what killed the project wasn't the citizens of Nevada as the attitude you just displayed for us.

    And it isn't my backyard either, as Yucca Mountain would have kept the waste away from Utah. But despite how much Nevada wants to steal our water, we do have to work together on these issues because people like you want to just force us to accept whatever you decide is a "fair" price and what you think is a good location.

    You can keep going on pretending that you can mandate and force whatever you want for what you think is the good of the many, but it hasn't worked for you so far, so you might want to reevaluate.
  10. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    You mean other people's deserts, don't you?

    May I suggest you take a few courses in basic geography? You'd find some interesting facts about the states directly west of the Rocky Mountains offer the most favorable sights because the majority of the landscape is desert. Air Force test ranges, ammo dumps, and other such operations are favored because they are far from the reach of civilization.

    Would people be more satisfied if the US government decided to buy the Yucca Mountain landscape from Nevada instead? That way, the repository wouldn't be any state's burden.

    If it threatened the well being of anyone, then I would respect the rights of any who were opposed to the project. As it stands, the location had been thoroughly evaluated and even if ground water is contaminated by radioactivity, no one within a hundred miles would have any reason for concern. Any that are afraid that their safety is being endangered should be assured that their fears are unfounded. Then after learning they have nothing to be concerned about, they can just let the construction crews and contractors do their job without any further problems.

    Oh you seem to be under the impression I expect the situation to be rectified. I'm very well aware of just how inefficient this so-called republic is when it comes to accomplishing projects that get bogged down with petty legal squabbles. Regional land planning? It could go a long way, provided that you don't have to abide by irrational demands by those few who seek to undermine major projects at great expense to everyone.

    If one asks if I would have such a facility in my state, here's my answer: I wouldn't have chosen to live in a state that's such an ecological menace as Nevada.

    Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Southern California... All of those states have vast wastelands equally suitable for a repository.
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The quest for deep geological disposal of high level radioactive waste has been going on for a lot longer than any of us who are posting here has been alive. It's been 30 years since the DoE officially latched on to deep geological disposal. The Yucca site is unique.

    The good news is that both Yucca Mountain, and the high level radioactive waste will still be around long after any politician now living is long dead.
  12. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That's a very cheery thought. Still I'd feel a lot better knowing that all that deadly radiation is buried deep underground for the next 10,000 years. Humans will have long died out by that time.
  13. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    My ancestors came to the west before the US government did. When the US government owns land, it isn't the government that is owning it but the PEOPLE. There is nothing wrong with waiting another 100 years to make a 10,000 to 100,000 year decision. Later we might decide we want to reuse the fuel.

    And you are under the impression that the government can do whatever it pleases with the land it has, and do you believe the same of private lands?

    You may have some good arguments as to why it should be centrally located in Yucca Mountain. But telling the people who live in that state to go **** themselves for disagreeing is a large part of the problem. I'm gathering that you think those of us who live in the west have no right to do so because you don't find it "ecologically sound." You can't equate an entire region to an extreme example such as Las Vegas, and even then their problems consist more of bad water management.
  14. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    How is building a nuclear waste repository in the middle of a DESERT disrupting anyone's lives? The problem is with people making unreasonable demands for something that doesn't even affect them. It's not like that piece of land was of any worth to anyone in the first place. Telling people their concerns are unfounded (and if indeed, they are unfounded) isn't telling them to go **** themselves.

    Taken from wikipedia. I think this explains that Nevada already has its own nuke problems as it is. To place a sight for nuclear waste in an area which already serves as an Air Force test range will result in no comparative loss to the state of Nevada.

    'Other proponents of the site argue that Nevadans' objections constitute little more than not-in-my-backyardism. In addition, the Nevada Test Site (NTS), which borders Yucca Mountain to the east, is the location where over 900 nuclear weapons have been detonated and continues to serve as primary location for any future nuclear weapons tests if needed. The NTS currently hosts a variety of research activities, both nuclear and otherwise, and is the host to two low-level radioactive waste sites.'

    So are you volunteering to take one of those dry caskets filled with spent nuclear fuel into your backyard until that happens?

    100 years only means until the elements of nature rupture those caskets and allow the radioactive byproducts to escape. Until then, those caskets will be sitting outside and posing a hazard until the day they're buried forever. And a hundred years may not be accurate. If those caskets are housed outside in temperate climates, the threat of frost wedging could greatly increase the risk of hiving one of those things rupture prematurely. A long term solution is needed. And it's not like we can't later decide to go back to Yucca Mountain and remove the spent nuclear fuel if we should decide to reprocess it later.

    I'll admit that the citizens of Nevada have been ignored when the decision was made to thoroughly evaluate Yucca Mountain and skip that process for three other potential sights. This is where the source of the frustration came from. That's why everyone in Nevada have been so outraged; because they felt the problem was just dumped on them. It wasn't.
  15. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    The dry caskets can stay where they were created. You can monitor their status and they will be fine for the next 100 years, despite your fearmongering to the contrary. Even if one cask did break, it wouldn't be a huge deal because they'd know about it right away and they'd be able to handle it. There is no rush to move them except by political forces that wanted to foist the problem onto others without properly consulting those people.
  16. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    I was under the impression that the Yucca Mountain location was geologically ideal for nuclear waste disposal. I mean, if the government wanted to put a waste dump several miles out from where I live, yeah I suppose I'd raise my eyebrows at that....but I do think people should look at the bigger picture as well.
  17. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That's what I've been leaning towards, but it doesn't mean it can just be done without respecting the concerns of those who's state it affects. If the site poses a serious risk to life or real issues that disrupt American lives, I would be more respectful to their feelings. As it is, there would be no such disruption or danger to anyone's lives near Yucca Mountain. Any who oppose it are really just 'not in my backyard' complaints without any valid concerns.

    If that wasn't enough, those that weren't happy with the situation didn't have to live in Nevada. Nothing was keeping them there. And Yucca Mountain had been under construction for a long time, so those people have had plenty of time to relocate before it would have ever started accepting containers of radioactive waste.

    The problem that Nevadans had with the selection of Yucca Mountain was really because it was the only location seriously considered for the repository. Out of the ~10 locations around the US that would have been suitable, only Yucca was seriously considered. That wasn't done simply to dump it on Nevada; it was done because it was the most ideal location. If there were people around, seismic hazards not anticipated, or other unforeseen problems; they would have gone to the next best site and evaluated it.
  18. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    If that wasn't enough, those that weren't happy with the situation didn't have to live in Nevada. Nothing was keeping them there. And Yucca Mountain had been under construction for a long time, so those people have had plenty of time to relocate before it would have ever started accepting containers of radioactive waste.

    I'm sorry but right here is exactly where the problem lies. Nothing except their lives and their homes, and since it isn't your life or your home you don't care much about them. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but people were living in the West long before you and the federal government decided that is where we needed to put the nuclear waste dump, and you can't just keep up with this move out or shut up argument. I don't even need to explain why, just look at where it has brought you.

    Nuclear power is a great energy source, and we don't need to worry about what exactly to do with the waste, dry on site storage works fine and you have a long time to win people over with your ideas rather than just ignoring people or telling them they don't deserve or need a voice in the process.
  19. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Okay. Since I've seemed to overlook the fact that there are people living there, I'll take a look at the site for myself to see who's lives and homes are being ruined by this project. I want to see for myself what is being destroyed before advocating one way or another.

    [After spending half an hour evaluating a thorough map with GIS software, D_Y comes to a remarkable conclusion]

    I see open desert around where the repository is being built. Which lives? Who's homes are you referring to?

    Within a radius of twenty miles, there are only about two dozen residents scattered across the landscape. Those people are not exactly in danger from such distances, but it's what I would call 'in their back yards.' Aside from that, it's pretty remote. Am I missing something? Are there unregistered residents living right on top of the mountain that we don't know of?

    Their homes are not being invaded. The closest urban neighbor is North Los Vegas, 80 miles SE of Yucca Mountain. It doesn't pose a threat to anyone's lives, so it's not like it diminishes the value of their homes or anything. It doesn't significantly disrupt their ways of life. The land it sits on isn't in anyone's way. It sits on a plot of land which is not of much value to anyone. Perhaps the most significant issue I could see is with frequent shipments of spent nuclear material through Los Vegas before being rerouted to the site.

    Actually, I respectfully ask that you do. I don't see the logic in your argument. You talk about people not wanting it there, disrupting lives, impinging on people's rights... how exactly? Now if this site were only ~10 miles away from Los Vegas, then everything changes. As it stands, it's in the middle of a desert, far from the lives of ANYONE. It lays within a restricted area from before the site was chosen.

    And what of those who don't want dry caskets near them? They didn't have any say in whether it was acceptable to store nearby or not. Are you saying their rights don't matter?




    Rather than keep ranting, I'll instead respectfully ask what others would suggest if not for Yucca Mountain. I'll be open to their ideas./>
  20. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    But Yuthura, if transporting the materials clear across the U.S. is so safe, then wouldn't leaving it right where it's at be even safer? Why not just use those highest level of safety containers you mentioned to store it on site?

    I agree with Espy on this. Being from a neighboring state to Nevada, I don't want that crap going through my state because politicians decided that worked best.

    But it is unfortunate they spent all that money for nothing.
  21. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Safer for whom?

    And to answer your question, no. Your suggestion doesn't work because the process of transportation is a one-time thing. You can afford to spend big for a one-time process by which to bury the waste forever. Once safe from the reach of anyone, you just have to fortify a single location... rather than fortifying over a hundred different sites in heavily populated areas.

    People don't want them on site. At least I know I wouldn't want those containers just sitting out in the elements for anyone to steal. Or I would rather see all that poison concentrated in a single area away from any life.

    Yeah, just as those millions who live near a nuclear reactor don't want its waste products just sitting around.

    This is a matter of national security. That nuclear material has to be secured somewhere. If not Yucca Mountain, then where? I'm open to other people's ideas, but anything which goes about leaving the hazardous materials exactly where they sit is unacceptable.
  22. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    Typical of the 'government' to waste millions and millions of taxpayers' money.

    If the site is already mostly done, we should finish it. Those caskets can't lie around forever waiting for long-term disposal, especially since we don't have any "Nuke-away" handy, you know, the stuff that gets rid of tell-tale nuclear waste.

    Just had to lighten up the conversation a bit here.

  23. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Does that Nuke-Away come in a spray bottle or dispenser? :p
  24. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Greatly appreciate it.

    This isn't something which can just be slapped together and you got a working elliot. We need to establish a well-fortified location which also happens to be as far away from civilization as possible. Yucca Mountain is such a location.

    The problems associated with delays in construction and going overbudget are mostly the result of legal issues. It's not technical or inefficient use of taxpayer money as it is in dealing with all the legal issues and the slow process of acquiring the permits they need to build the facility. It's not just something of which can be done to house ~10% of the waste while the rest of the facility is being completed. Only when it's 100% constructed would it be ready to start accepting waste products.

    If it should be cancelled, I would rather see what space is available be filled. Even filling 10% of the planned capacity is better than none at all.
  25. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Yeah but there is more than one remote location to store it. I would favour splitting the storage into 2 or 3 areas to handle regional waste.

    That way the more you use, the more you have to live with albeit safely. It would be internalizing an negative externality.
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