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Power United States Science

Former Governor On Holding the Department of Energy Accountable In Idaho (thebulletin.org) 120

Lasrick writes: "I have been involved in government at the state and federal level for a long time and have had my share of political and legal run-ins with government agencies, but rarely in more than 50 years in politics have I encountered a government agency more committed to secrecy—perhaps even deception—than the US Department of Energy." So writes former governor of Idaho Cecil D. Andrus in this account of the U.S. government's plan to ship commercial spent fuel to the Idaho National Lab for what the feds call "research" but what the Andrus (and his predecessor) feel is an attempt to store high level nuclear waste in Idaho. According to him, despite Freedom of Information Act requests, the federal government is not sharing its plan for the waste once it gets to Idaho. This is a disturbing tale of government secrecy and stonewalling, and the problem with nuclear waste: no one wants it in their backyard.
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Former Governor On Holding the Department of Energy Accountable In Idaho

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  • This so-called nuclear "waste" will be worth a fortune in the future. Folks in a couple of hundreds of years on will be wondering why the "ancients" simply just buried this valuable fuel.

    Forget oil in Texas . . . nuclear fuel in Idaho will be where it's at!

  • There you go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TaleSpinner ( 96034 )

    Democrats just looooooove Obama when he's making up new laws and forcing them down people's throats, but this is the kind of shit that sort of government attitude leads to. "We get to do whatever we want because we're the Government - and you are not." He's created a culture of secrecy and stonewalling unprecedented in American government, he got away with it thanks to Democrats and the compliant media - and now you're surprised the government thinks it can do whatever it can get away with and lie about?

    Oba

    • This is why is it going to ID: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2... [nytimes.com]

      Sen. Rubber Band Reid got bought...
    • "culture of secrecy and stonewalling unprecedented '''
      The government is more transparent today than at any time in it's history. The people who can't see this are those who think US government history only goes back 20 years. It doesn't mean people should stop trying to ferret out government secrets but changes in how the government changes are incremental and government transparency is getting better and not worse. It may not be as transparent as some would like but it is not something that happens overnig

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Just because we generally support the prez doesn't mean we agree with everything he does. That's an unrealistic expectation: we vote for a representative, not individual initiatives.

      Maybe there is a legitimate security reason to keep the details of this stuff secret: it's obviously dangerous in the wrong hands. Unfortunately we cannot directly tell if the secrecy is justified because it's still secret.

      Let's hope our system of checks and balances works to ensure there is a reasonable review and consensus on

    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      Yes, Republicans never force their own ideology "down people's throats", right?

      This culture you speak of has been building for decades and was most certainly heavily contributed to during the Bush years. This is not a partisan issue

    • My favorite question for hard right asshats:

      Do you keep your KKK robes in hung in the closet where they won't get wrinkled but they might be seen, or do you keep them folded in a drawer where they get wrinkled but are less likely to be discovered?

      Please respond, I really want to know.

      • Funny, it seems that the DNC is much more racist than the RNC. I saw many people who voted for Obama BECAUSE he was black, not for any of his positions on anything. This is racist, you guys got exactly the person you voted for, after all he backstabbed the people while still a Senator during the election when he voted for the FISA amendments bill. He claimed he would never vote for it while it contained telecom immunity, then as soon as it came up, he voted for it, and changed his web site to reflect tha

    • by Ramze ( 640788 )

      unprecedented... that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

      Let's see... when has the US government hidden nefarious motives from the unsuspecting public in the past?
      Oh yes! The many, many chemical, biological, radioactive, and psychological experiments it did on its own people in secret during the last couple centuries.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      The federal government does what it wants when it wants and doesn't care what you think about it. You aren't wrong to blame Obama for thi

  • Allow reprocessing of spent fuel. France, UK, India, and Russia manage to do it. Might be more expensive but it gets rid of long term storage issues and drastically reduces long term environmental risk.
    • Allow reprocessing of spent fuel. France, UK, India, and Russia manage to do it. Might be more expensive but it gets rid of long term storage issues and drastically reduces long term environmental risk.

      And we already have a mothballed plant to do it.

      We're just not doing it because of an executive order by Jimmy Carter, who was convinced that reprocessed fuel would all be weapons grade (depends on how much reprocessing you do, actually; you can stop before you reach that point), and that as a result, it would contribute to nuclear proliferation.

      Seems to have worked with North Korea. Oh. Snap. It *didn't* work with North Korea. Jimmy Carter's "bad"...

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @08:17PM (#50762511)

    Idaho would be a perfect place to get rid of mountains of nuclear waste.

    Just pile it up, throw a tarp over it, and the local yokels will come and steal it, carting it away by the pickup truck load.

    Seriously, these goobers would steal dog shit if you put a sign up saying "PLEASE DON'T STEAL THE DOG SHIT".

    True story: A friend of mine crushed his old, broken refrigerator flat with his tractor and left it in the yard (he was going to take it to the dump in a few days). It was stolen the next night.

  • by FrozenGeek ( 1219968 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:30PM (#50763051)
    that spent nuclear waste ought to be stored in the same state in which it was originally used. If you don't want to deal with the waste, don't burn the fuel in the first place.
    • Sounds morally right, but in fact economies of scale and security considerations make it much more sensible to have one or two specialised facilities.
      Of course "sensible" debate about nuclear waste ended a long time ago...

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @04:57AM (#50764093)

      The problem is that the two scenarios (storage and processing) have different ideal geological requirements.

      This is no different than any other activities humans have ever undertaken. Building a house is typically done in a different place than the landfill used to put the waste products. People are just as usual applying different standards to nuclear vs the rest of the industry which stores its waste in the air.

      The best company to deal with one part of a process is not necessarily the best to deal with another. This applies to basically the production / manufacturing of everything humans have ever done except for small hunter / gatherer villages.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @12:06AM (#50763465)
    Doesn't anyone in Idaho understand the DOE EULA?

    Once you agree to any nuclear installation, they can change the rules and do whatever the hell they want. This is what has happened at pretty much every nuclear power reactor: the nuclear waste ends up being stored on site indefinitely. It makes no difference that this is the worst possible scenario because it makes security a nightmare and the sites were never designed for long term storage in the first place.

    The DOE's job is to make nuclear technology happen. They don't really give a rat's ass about the environment or security. It wasn't like they wanted the EPA Superfund. They didn't start it and it's mostly paid for by taxes on other polluters, like the fossil fuel and chemical industries. All they do is spend the money when enough political pressure is brought to bear.

    Take Hanford [koin.com]. They are cleaning up things they know how to deal with. Unfortunately that's not where the real trouble is. The most horrible problem are these huge tanks full of various toxic and radioactive waste. They don't know exactly what's in them and they are so old that they all leak. It is possible that moving the material around could cause either a chemical or nuclear explosion because critical mass could be reached. (Not nuclear weapon bomb level explosion, but enough heat to cause a vapor explosion.)

    So they don't know how to empty the tanks and they don't know how to deal with the material when it gets out of the tanks. They had a plan to build an automated facility to make glass logs that would physically contain the radioactive material and it has failed. They are over budget and behind schedule. Their timetable is a fantasy.

    So why does anyone in Idaho expect anything to be different?

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2015 @10:00AM (#50765237) Journal

    One of the most major criticisms of Yucca Mountain was that the DOE's original policy using the 'Defense in Depth' approach to the specification for building a spent fuel containment facility could not be applied to Yucca's geology. The reason to choose a specific geology (in addition to being seisemically stable) was also to have the geologic chemistry of the rock able to control the the amount of time ground water took to travel through the facility carrying radioactive isotopes, eventually, into the water table. If the amount of time it takes exceeds the decay rate of the longest lived radio-isotopes then the facility was providing defense in depth.

    In addition, as a site like that would be containing pu-239, whose half life is around 25000 years, after considering the daughter products you need a geology capable of containing it for 500,000 years, which is what the original specification called for.

    Studies of the Yucca mountain hydrology (pdf) [wiley.com] revealed that the passage cl-36 from atmospheric nuclear testing took less that 50 years in ground water through Yucca mountain so the reality of Yucca is it is inappropriate to contain *any* kind of radioactive products. The reason is Yucca is pumice and volcanic ash.

    Feild [sciencemag.org] studies [sciencedirect.com] have established that crystaline rocks [sciencedirect.com] like granite and bentonite clays can acheive this control. So far Finland [geoprac.net] is on track to be the first with an active facility with a Swedish facility [geoprac.net] also in the works.

    Curiously, getting this right should be the one thing pro and anti nuclear folk should be able to agree on, if only for their own reasons. For Nuclear power to continue operating such a storage facility is essential so that new reactors can be deployed and materials removed from reactor sites. For people against Nuclear power such a facility would improve the safety of the industry as a whole by providing a place to store the materials permanently where there ingress into the environment can be controlled.

    The DOE have got to build a facility somewhere. The right location has to be chosen because of all the rail and other infrastructure required to move the spent fuel has to be funded and built. This should not be a difficult thing for America to achieve by applying a scientific approach to selecting the site and building it instead of the politics used to select Yucca Mountain.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Curiously, getting this right should be the one thing pro and anti nuclear folk should be able to agree on, if only for their own reasons. For Nuclear power to continue operating such a storage facility is essential so that new reactors can be deployed and materials removed from reactor sites. For people against Nuclear power such a facility would improve the safety of the industry as a whole by providing a place to store the materials permanently where there ingress into the environment can be controlled.

      I

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        If the anti-nuclear folk can prevent safe storage, then it makes nuclear power more dangerous. In the same way they push low capacity factor "green" power which makes high capacity factor nuclear power more expensive.

        I think you will find it has more to do with budgetary and political wrangling more than anti-nuclear people. In many countries there are laws to stop any entity lower than a state government interfering with the placement of nuclear facilities.

  • Seriously, better to burn this 'waste' at the location where it was generated with new molten salt reactors. These can do it safely and cheaply.

You can not get anything worthwhile done without raising a sweat. -- The First Law Of Thermodynamics

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