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Nuclear Trashmen Profit From Unprecedented US Reactor Shutdowns 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-radioactive-benjamins dept.
mdsolar sends this quote from Bloomberg: "More than 50 years into the age of nuclear energy, one of the biggest growth opportunities may be junking old reactors. Entergy Corp. (ETR) said Aug. 27 it will close its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, making the reactor the fifth unit in the U.S. marked for decommissioning within the past 12 months, a record annual total. Companies that specialize in razing nuclear plants and hauling away radioactive waste are poised to benefit. Disposal work is 'where companies are going to make their fortune,' Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear-industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in an phone interview. Contractors that are usually involved in building reactors ... 'are going to be looking very hard at the decommissioning side of it.' [T]he U.S. nuclear fleet of 104 units is shrinking, even as Southern Co. and Scana Corp. build two units each. ... During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King. 'You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,' she said. 'That typically is hired out.'"
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Nuclear Trashmen Profit From Unprecedented US Reactor Shutdowns

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  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @05:05PM (#44760665) Homepage Journal

    ... to the lowest bidder.

  • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @05:12PM (#44760735)
    If only there was a central geologically stable and dry place where we could store the waste while we work things out.
  • by cnaumann (466328) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @05:40PM (#44760995)

    There will always be something left. There are a few isotopes of caesium, iodine and a few other elements that have a medium half life (10-100 years), that are biologically active, and have a TINY neutron cross section. The medium half life means they will be around a long time (thousands of years) and will be quite dangerous for that time. Biologically active means that your body will absorb them and concentrate them. The small neutron cross section means that you CANNOT burn them up in a reactor. Long term storage is the only (safe) option for getting rid of materials. Every nuclear fuel cycle produces these, even the much-hyped liquid salt reactors.

    Safe long-term storage of waste is not technically difficult. It is politically difficult and distracts from the real danger of nuclear power. The real danger of nuclear power is the almost unfathomable cost of a reactor accident. Not in terms of lives lost, but in terms of property damage. Imagine for a minute the implications of a Fukishima type accident at a US site on a major river. Every city downstream of the accident would have to be evacuated.

  • Re:Well, good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by olau (314197) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:44PM (#44761499) Homepage

    The natural gas boom is putting these older-gen reactors out of business. When the cost goes back up and nuclear becomes profitable again, we'll get the chance to actually implement the newer designs.

    That's true, but it will probably only happen if the capital costs of new reactors falls - a lot. Meanwhile, various renewables are falling in price. And while those generally have high capital expenditures too, the marginal costs are usually really low. So it's going to be a tough market for new reactors.

  • by fnj (64210) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:30PM (#44761833)

    Ah... Electrical power too cheap to meter, offices on the Moon, colonies on Mars... How's the dream working out for ya?

    Not too well, since it was abandoned due to dipshit obstructionists obsessed with pushing agendas like mathematically PERFECT safety EVERYWHERE at ANY expense, nothing but pretty flowers and butterflies anywhere near MY backyard, out of control religious environmentalism, demonizing the population at large as potential terrorists, and so on and so on, ad nauseum. Oh, and continuous warfare as a way of life, funded by diverting vast sums which could otherwise go toward making that dream come true.

  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:30PM (#44762163) Homepage

    We don't *need* to "work things out." We already *have* them worked out. You burn your actinides in a breeder reactor until all that's left is negligibly dangerous. You get more power out of a given unit of fuel and you end up with far less waste. What's not to like? Oh, I forgot...the Carter Era put an end to that due to "proliferation concerns." Yeah, we can't have nasty dictators in places like Iran, North Korea, or Pakistan getting nuclear weapons... ...oh, wait...

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:39PM (#44762511) Homepage Journal
    Or, maybe the dreamers just had a hard time keeping a positive attitude and started getting blamey when the technology turned out to be clumsy, dangerous and unworkable.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near