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US Nuclear Plants Expanding Long-Term Waste Storage Facilities 187

mdsolar (1045926) writes with news of nuclear plants across the U.S. dealing with the consequences of the failure of Yucca Mountain. From the article: "The steel and concrete containers used to store the waste on-site were envisioned as only a short-term solution when introduced in the 1980s. Now they are the subject of reviews by industry and government to determine how they might hold up — if needed — for decades or longer. With nowhere else to put its nuclear waste, the Millstone Power Station overlooking Long Island Sound is sealing it up in massive steel canisters on what used to be a parking lot. The storage pad, first built in 2005, was recently expanded to make room for seven times as many canisters filled with spent fuel. ... The government is pursuing a new plan for nuclear waste storage, hoping to break an impasse left by the collapse of a proposal for Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The Energy Department says it expects other states will compete for a repository ... But the plan faces hurdles including a need for new legislation that has stalled in Congress." There's always recycling or transmutation.
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US Nuclear Plants Expanding Long-Term Waste Storage Facilities

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  • by ghack ( 454608 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @12:18AM (#47097095)

    The link goes to information about proposed accelerator driven subcritical reactors, but you can transmute plutonium, minor actinides, and fission products in sodium fast reactors (SFRs) or light water reactors with inert matrix fuel (LWRs). SFRs have nearly the same spectrum neutron energy spectrum as most proposed ADS blankets, and the technology readiness level is much higher. Basically anything you can do in an ADS you can do in an SFR, but you don't have the added cost of an accelerator. Moderated targets would be required for fission product transmutation.

    Passive decay heat removal is necessary whether you are talking about an ADS or an SFR. Other than the worst reactivity insertion accidents (which can be mitigated by negative reactivity coefficients) I do not see serious benefits to an ADS over an SFR.

  • Re:what a waste (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @03:11AM (#47097579)
    The nuclear industry killed off the molten thorium salt reactor by lobbying against it due to fears of it's success cutting back on the lifetime of their investment in Uranium reactors and infrastructure. They drove the head of that project out of the nuclear industry for daring to suggest that thorium designs would be safer than existing plants. Unless something changes to prevent their opposition or to prevent them getting money into the right pockets your thorium dream is not going to happen in the USA.
    However there is some hope in India, although some of their earlier thorium stuff was partly smokescreen for a weapon program. Molten stuff is potentially vastly cheaper than conventional reprocessing.
  • Politics of Yucca (Score:3, Informative)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @05:47AM (#47097965) Homepage Journal
    The link on the failure of Yucca Mountain misses the key issue: [] Scientists at USGS falsified Quality Assurance reports. Doing this meant that no confidence could be placed in the work. There was no way to know if Yucca was suitable and every reason to think it was not.
  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2014 @07:04AM (#47098187)

    > The above-ground casks can easily last that long.

    Really, no. Between simple exposure and the fascinating chemical interactions with the low level radio-active material of numerous kinds, there's no evidence that the inexpensive containers will last that long. It's much like a start-up companies sales chart: a few early bits of information are extrapolated into a hopelessly optimistic long term graph that is unlikely to be relevent even for the next six months, much less the next 50 years.

    There's a reasonable Scientific American article about this at http://www.scientificamerican.... []. They're apparently only rated for 100 years, and I consider that _extremely_ optimistic.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"