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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the put-that-anywhere dept.

United States 258

mdsolar writes with news of a plan to move radioactive waste from nuclear plants. The U.S. government is looking for trains to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to disposal sites. Too bad those trains have nowhere to go. Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Department of Energy recently asked companies for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel. They won't be moving anytime soon. The latest government plans call for having an interim test storage site in 2021 and a long-term geologic depository in 2048. No one knows where those sites will be, but the Obama administration is already thinking about contracts to develop, test and certify the necessary rail equipment.

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And it's going to be called... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796213)

The Obama Train. Full of waste and going nowhere fast.

Can't you teabaggers (1, Flamebait)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 months ago | (#47796247)

do something to help the country instead of trying to throw it under the back of the bus with the black Democratic president that was, despite your impotent attempts, elected twice.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796339)

Maybe I just don't get this because I'm not an American, but why is Obama considered "black"?

Since his mother was white and his father was black, doesn't that mean he's just as much black as he is white, and he's just as much white as he is black?

Re:Can't you teabaggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796369)

The 'black' genes are superior and always win over the expression of other. This is why the baby is always black if either parent are too. At best it could be of lighter colour, but will always end up being black.

This is yet a other interesting biology fact that you are not allowed to study or publish because "muh PC feeling!".

Re:Can't you teabaggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47797163)

no, genetically half-black babies are always "black" because their parents give them names like Mo'fassi, J'Lavatius, Lamoniqua, Shayshay, Ea'J'odan...

Re:Can't you teabaggers (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47797183)

I'm pretty sure Lamoniqua is white, otherwise her mom has some explaining to do. I dunno, maybe I've never really given her a good look.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 3 months ago | (#47796389)

I think the rule used to be up to 1/8 black (Octoroon) is still black. This may not be current practice. I think almost all "black" Americans are actually mixed race. (Notwithstanding recent immigrants). Maybe it's a "self-identification" thing? Not sure why it should matter.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796879)

Not sure why it should matter.

When one ask for privilege for being of certain race and the state grant such privilege base on the race it become very important. For as long as race matter, having certainty over race will matter. Same goes for religion and sex and whatever base for discrimination government and courts use to rule over.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796535)

Maybe I just don't get this because I'm not an American, but why is Obama considered "black"?

Mainly- I would assume- because of the cultural legacy of the historical dominance of the One Drop rule [wikipedia.org] within the United States. This was a specific form of hypodescent [wikipedia.org] in which the dominant white class attempted to discourage miscegenation by deeming anyone of mixed black/white parentage to be black (i.e. belonging to the "inferior" race).

Some have said that this ultimately backfired as it led to a large proportion of the population being considered uniformly "black" and thus having the same vested interest in fighting for black equality, civil rights et al, regardless of the mix of their parentage. In other words, the unintentional opposite of "divide and rule". For example, the fact that Obama considers himself "black" because he has one black parent- and most other Americans would too- makes his victory as the first "black" president a step forward for *all* people deemed "black" by US standards.

Whether this renders the term meaningless in anything other then sociological terms is open to question and, arguably, missing the point here.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 3 months ago | (#47796581)

From what I read when I was into jazz biographies, it absolutely has meaning beyond sociology. There were all sorts of hierarchies within the "one drop" gene pool having to do with trying to be at the top of the non-white heap. Hell, in my lifetime, only maybe 15 years ago, I witnessed a black woman I was hanging with (who had medium-light skin) look across the bar at a very dark skinned man and make an extremely negative comment about it. Her white boyfriend didn't skip a beat and said to her, "Well now, that's the pot calling the kettle black." She was not amused.

Re:Can't you teabaggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796513)

right, because you liberal fascists were so tolerant of bush, who was elected twice....

No: They Can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796517)

Tea-beggars are intellectually challenged by complexity. They can't comprehend the requirement of reasonable limitation on personal freedom as the underlying theme of constitutional government because they never learned to value cooperation or thinking beyond their own personal prerogative. They see the world in terms of a polemical struggles of good and evil, black and white, us versus them. The emblematic phrase of these so-called libertarians is, "If you're not with us, you're against us." That's why they can't abide political comprise and seek to destroy anything they equate with their misguided definition of socialism as the arch enemy of democracy.

He is what he is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796583)

That's why Obama has to be either black or white; he can't be both. And since he doesn't appear to be challenged by an inability to jump, he must be...

Re:He is what he is... (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47797211)

He can be, and is, both. I've got this fantasy(I'm white btw) of going up to him, holding out my hand and saying,"Wassup honky?" Be even better to get it on video, maybe with multiple angles.

Re:No: They Can't (1, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#47797087)

They can't comprehend the requirement of reasonable limitation on personal freedom as the underlying theme of constitutional government

WTF are you talking about? The constitution places no limits on freedom of the people. In fact, the US constitution is specifically a contract allowing government to do certain things. They are automatically barred from others but the bill of rights was put in place to ensure some key elements never took hold. Government seems to be wanting to forget that now but it is the entire premise of the federalist papers and the anti-federalist papers which discussed this very fact in detail and persuaded unwilling states to join in.

They see the world in terms of a polemical struggles of good and evil, black and white, us versus them.

I would say that when you believe what you just wrote above this, you would not understand why people who have a clue reject your assumptions as an attack on principle. The biggest amount of bullshit about all this is if your way is really better, you can amend the constitution and make it legitimate instead of crying about how inferior everyone who disagrees with you are because they don't magically see or understand something that goes completely contrary to the US constitution and the history surrounding it.

That's why they can't abide political comprise and seek to destroy anything they equate with their misguided definition of socialism as the arch enemy of democracy.

No one should ever compromise the integrity of the US constitution. Amend the damn thing if you think it needs changed.

Re:No: They Can't (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47797205)

I hate democracy, and I'm thrilled that the US isn't one. We're a constitutional republic, a nation of written law. Or, at least we're supposed to be. I'm pretty sure case law is technically illegal, but people accept it because the people before them did. People don't give a damn what the law actually says, and believe the lie that it's just a mishmash of laws and you need a Harvard education to understand it.

It's not hard to read US law, just tedious. It works a bit like a computer program, assuming you don't believe the lie that case law is law.

How about Arkansas? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796229)

Arkansas is kind of a shithole already. There are really no redeeming qualities about it. Using it as the storage location would at least make it useful for one thing.

Re:How about Arkansas? (2)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47797221)

I live in Conway, Arkansas, and it most definitely NOT a shithole. I'd rather be here than just about anywhere else.

Just like the wheel. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796237)

Exactly right said Gnork the Neanderthaler. Let's not try to invent something like a wheel or anything. Who needs those? Where would you go and what would you use them for??

Re:Just like the wheel. (4, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | about 3 months ago | (#47797019)

It would probably take 20 years for the conceptual designs, material selection, laboratory testing of the materials, CAD design, prototype building (a dozen or so), THEN come the lawsuits, Congressional hearings, de-funding, re-funding, de-funding again, re-funding again, route selection, more lawsuits, different route selections ( Repeat ) and finally protestors chaining themselves to everything in the way before the first load of wastes is ready to go anywhere.

Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796251)

...there's plenty of money left over to solve these trivial issues. Right?

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (2)

brambus (3457531) | about 3 months ago | (#47796531)

And one of the ways to start on solving these trivial issues is by stopping this myth of the "too cheap to meter" quote meaning nuclear fission [google.com] (footnote):

An account of the history of the remark is given in a brief report prepared by the Atomic Industrial Forum (AIF), a nuclear advocacy organization. There is a good chance that Strauss was thinking of fusion power, not fission power, although he could not be explicit because the practicalities of fusion were secret in 1954, with the development of the hydrogen bomb only recently started. The AIF report quotes Lewis H. Strauss, the son of Lewis L. Strauss and himself a physicist: "I would say my father was referring to fusion energy. I know this because I became my father's eyes and ears as I travelled around the country for him."

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 months ago | (#47797189)

"I would say my father was referring to fusion energy. I know this because I became my father's eyes and ears as I travelled around the country for him."

So, a nuclear advocate covers for his nuclear advocate father's boneheaded remark pretending that nuclear energy would be cost effective. Or at least that's the assertion of someone named "Blubbaloo" who is the person who created the "too cheap to meter" wikipedia page. It is the only wikipedia entry that "Blubbaloo" has ever seemed to have made. And one that he seems to guard very carefully. And the only person who has ever disputed the meaning of Strauss' statement was his nuclear advocate son.

It's funny that a "physicist" wouldn't be able to understand the concept of externalities.

Here's a little detail from the talk pages of that very interesting wiki artifact:

We should not discount the popular impact of this statement. I added "Newspaper articles at the time..." and I wonder why there is any question about Strauss' meaning. Clearly the New York Times, writing about the Sept. 16 1954 speech, understood that Strauss was referring to the entire atomic energy program. Even if Strauss was misunderstood, he did not take any great pains to clear up the record. User:wkovarik -- Bill Kovarik, March 15, 2011.

A direct copy of the entire speech would clear up most of the questions around the usual (often mangled, as the one included today is) quotes. (Did the NYT reprint the entire speech or just portions?)
Robert Pool, 1997 p.71,[1] quotes this preceding line, often left out: "Transmutation of the elements--unlimited power ... these and a host of other results all in fifteen short years. It is not too much to expect that our children...." etc. There's little question that Strauss was waxing poetic; more to the point: many sources say he was encouraging science writers to promote fission power to these ends. Which completely makes sense considering their need to create more plutonium.
His view was not widely shared; in 1951, General Electric's own C. G. Suits, who was operating the Hanford reactors, said that "At present, atomic power presents an exceptionally costly and inconvenient means of obtaining energy which can be extracted much more economically from conventional fuels.... This is expensive power, not cheap power as the public has been led to believe."[2] Twang (talk) 16:53, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

"many sources say he was encouraging science writers to promote fission power to these ends."

Shills is shills, ya know?

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47796817)

Nuclear seems unable to compete with natural gas and wind power. http://will.illinois.edu/nfs/R... [illinois.edu] So, the question is, will it be around to cover these costs at all? Waste is being generated without any fee being collected to clean it up now. Looks like it will be taxpayers footing the bill.

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (4, Interesting)

nojayuk (567177) | about 3 months ago | (#47796955)

US law requires the US government to collect and deal with spent nuclear fuel as it is regarded as a stategic material. The same law requires the power generating companies to pay a levy to the government per MWh of nuclear electricity generated for this to be done. As I recall they've paid (or rather the consumers have paid) over $30 billion since the levy was introduced.

The power companies are now paying for on-site dry-cask storage of spent fuel since the US government isn't actually doing what they've been paid to do, that is take away the spent fuel and deal with it. They have stopped paying the levy after a court agreed with them and they are using some of those savings to fund the local dry-cask storage they need.

The taxpayers have benefited from over $30 billion of free money gifted to the government by the electricity generating companies, it's not the other way around.

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47797075)

It seems pretty clear that the waste issue will be more, not less expensive. This is always the way with nuclear power. Fees should be quadrupled. It is not a gift at all. Operators have the public trust working with these materials, but their attitude hardly makes them seem to deserve that trust.

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47797031)

Look at the Solar Shill making shit up.

Delete the Envirowackos suing at EVERY turn, the EPA making site prep a 10 year nightmare, and finally morons like you chaining themselves to everything in sight, nuclear would be dirt cheap.

Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47797227)

You mean like in Fukushima?

So, THIS is putting the cart before the horse? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796255)

Then what was running nuclear power plants with no way to get the waste to disposal sites and no disposal sites (and no concept of how to keep a disposal site safe for more generations than have used the English language)?

Re:So, THIS is putting the cart before the horse? (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47796429)

Rhetorical question, since without disposal sites, there is no need to have a way to get there and the solution was then to stock the waste on site until the political issues get resolved some day in the future. That wasn't putting the cart before the horse, that was putting the horses behind the cart and pushing it. However, the cart is hard to move like all political carts. The energy was needed and urgent problems had to be solved first.

And if they hade a place to store the waste. (3, Insightful)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 months ago | (#47796259)

These same people would be complaining that it was a waste since there was no way to transport anything to the repository. unlike the complaining idiots here, most people are capable of doing multiple things at once. And since there are a lot of people in the government, they can actually work on even more things.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796301)

And since there are a lot of people in the government, they can actually work on even more things.

In theory. In reality, the only thing the government seems capable of working together on is screwing over the general population while securing more money and power for themselves.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796363)

Uh who do you think manages the interstate highway system that (I assume) you drive on?

Who hands out disability and unemployment checks if you happen to be disabled or unemployed?

Who prevents people like putin or ISIL from coming to your backyard and proclaiming it part of a Russian/Islamic state?

You really have to be a true idiot if you think government is only screwing over its citizens. For a true example of a government screwing over the populace I welcome you to get the hell out and try living in another country.

Moron.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796407)

Uh who do you think manages the interstate highway system that (I assume) you drive on?

Local, not federal, government pays for it... with your money (taxes).

Who hands out disability and unemployment checks if you happen to be disabled or unemployed?

Again, that's done through taxes. So who is responsible for disability and unemployment checks? The employed.

Who prevents people like putin or ISIL from coming to your backyard and proclaiming it part of a Russian/Islamic state?

Is this a joke, or are you being serious right now? I would ask if you are a routine watcher of FOX "news" but we already know the answer to that.

You really have to be a true idiot if you think government is only screwing over its citizens. For a true example of a government screwing over the populace I welcome you to get the hell out and try living in another country.

Welp, can't argue with that logic. You've turned me. I absolutely must completely agree with everything the federal government says now, as they cannot possibly do any wrong. In fact, I suggest we start by increasing the amount of illegal spying done on citizens by the government! It's for our own good, right? Abandoning the constitution makes me a patriot now, right?

Not the Interstate, son. (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 months ago | (#47797101)

Of course, being an anonymous coward, I can see that even you are too embarrassed to be associated with your own words.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 3 months ago | (#47796441)

You are probably right but there are some things to consider here.

1) Transporting nuclear waste by rail is not exactly blue sky research. I don't think anyone seriously doubts we can find a way to get that done. Which is not say it will not take a great deal of thinking, research, testing, around the safety engineering of it or that it would be expensive to do.

2) It may prove politically impossible to ever transport these materials on a large scale. After the recent accidents with oil on rail, have the public pretty squeamish, about hazardous materials moving thru their back yards. Decades of propaganda have lots of people afraid and opposed to atomic* or nuclear* in general. In the wake of Fukushima we have already seen major western nations shutter their nuclear generating. If these trains were ready to roll today and there was a disposal site, politics would never let it happen. So there may be no need to undertake 1.

3) For practical reasons there may never be any disposal site. First for technical reasons breaders probably still make more sense, and solve the spent fuel problem. If we move in that direction most of the spent fuel isn't spent at all and it may be better to keep where it is now so its accessible. Reduces the need for 1, although only partially we still might need to move the stuff between sites.

4) Politically there may never be a disposal site. Reid has basically killed Yucca. If we can't muster the political will to put a storage facility in sparsely populated low economic value desert I don't know how we'd ever get it done anywhere else.

5) Environmentally it has been determined that even Yucca, most promising spot identified today is really not as ideal as we once thought. There may not be anyplace that is really 'good' to use as a radio active waste dump. Again killing the need for 1.

So in light of the fact that 1 is a known obstacle which we are confident is solvable, while the fundamental issues are more open questions it probably does make more sense to try and resolve the other issues first.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (3, Interesting)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47796575)

There is many places which are really good to use as radioactive waste dumps. The most stable rock plate in Canada, known as the canadian shield is 4,5 bn years old to 540 millions years old and is stable since then. Of course, you have to make an agreement with government of Canada to use it and pay some kind of fee to monitor and secure it, however it is a perfectly acceptable solution.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796665)

I hope that's not the solution. I'm happy to store our own waste in the shield, but I don't really want my country to be in the business of importing garbage.

Unless we can absolutely rape the USA with disposal fees.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (1)

phayes (202222) | about 3 months ago | (#47796867)

Consider it to be importing tomorrows fuel source.

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 3 months ago | (#47796577)

Well the UK has systems for moving waste by train why not simply use our existing technology - might cut out some redundant pork that could be better spent on education or improving local light rail in say SF

Re:And if they hade a place to store the waste. (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 3 months ago | (#47796827)

You are right that it is entirely a politically manufacture problem. Transporting spent fuel is really very simple to do safely. But first, get over the politically frozen waste repository plans. The nuclear haters want the waste to be a problem more than they want to solve it.

Movie Plot (1)

Celtic Ferret (1336711) | about 3 months ago | (#47796273)

Reminds me of the dystopian themed film "Snowpiercer" in reverse.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt17... [imdb.com]
Cue all the recent train explosion videos...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
--CF

Re:Movie Plot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796391)

Protesterpiercer

Nuclear waste trains in other countries (2, Informative)

bazim2 (625704) | about 3 months ago | (#47796277)

Nuclear waste is regularly and safely carried by train in other countries.

Here's a video from 1984 of a crash test done in the UK on a train waste container:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Nuclear waste trains in other countries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796547)

The USA did similar tests in the 80s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_JhruRobRI

train wreck (0)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 3 months ago | (#47796281)

We know anything the government does is a... train wreck. It will only get worse in the future.

Re:train wreck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796409)

I don't know about that "we" but You are so right. It's not like private corporations/companies with laxed safety regulations they bribbederrrrr lobbied for, never had major accidents such as oil spills or other chemicals either into rivers or dry land from say a bursted pipeline.

Where could we put this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796283)

If only there was some sort of location, out in the middle of a desert far away from civilization, preferably under a geologically-sound Mountain, that we could store nuclear waste. I think Nevada would be a great place.

How unfortunate that we don't already have a certain facility already built for exactly this purpose. And I'm sure that if we did, Obama would have been so pleased with it that he wouldn't yank out the funding from underneath it.

Setup the trains to the cape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796297)

Get the trains set to go to the cape. Cape Canaveral. A couple of heavy lift rockets are in development (SpaceX has one, NASA has one, etc.). By 2048 we should be able to loft those containers out of Earth's gravity well. Put them on a trajectory that impacts the sun in 10,000 years or some such. Yeah, sure, too dangerous and all. What if one blows up on takeoff, etc. Well, it is Florida...

Re:Setup the trains to the cape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796419)

The spent fuel is solid. Compact that into a steel casing with a location beacon. If the rocket explode retrieve the scattered 'black-box'. Since it is all solid it should not deform and container should remain intact.

This could be made very safe using a lot of very small container that are extremely robust. Now we just need to figure out how much are are wiling to skim off to get it 'cost effective', that is the point it become profitable for the private contractor to do it.

Sell it to china. (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47796315)

It would be cheaper and likely completely safe to warehouse it in the US. The facility they set up to handle this prior to the political problems should have worked just fine.

But no one is going to be reasonable on the issue... so who can you pay to take it off our hands?

Find a nuclear power with capacity and will to deal with the problem. The US used to have this sort of capability... but we're a nation divided. And because of that... we are incapable of dealing with even simple problems.

It all could be resolved with a little mutual respect and consideration. But again... that's not going to happen. We don't respect each other. A large number of Americans hold large numbers of Americans in contempt. And until we let each other live and let live... we will remain at war with ourselves.

Re:Sell it to china. (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47796527)

It all could be resolved with a little mutual respect and consideration. But again... that's not going to happen. We don't respect each other. A large number of Americans hold large numbers of Americans in contempt. And until we let each other live and let live... we will remain at war with ourselves.

This, times 100... You sir, are correct, you win! :)

Sell it to china. (1)

greatguin (1180643) | about 3 months ago | (#47796833)

It all could be resolved with a little mutual respect and consideration. But again... that's not going to happen. We don't respect each other. A large number of Americans hold large numbers of Americans in contempt. And until we let each other live and let live... we will remain at war with ourselves.

It's called "divide and conquer" politics. While the voting public is too busy calling each other "teabaggers" and "hippy communists," the politicians are fueling the fire with sound-bites on the one hand, while taking special interest money with the other, and then using this huge distraction and cash flow to systematically destroy our democracy, our institutions, and our government.

Re:Sell it to china. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47796983)

No... there is no grand conspiracy. Its just people.

Either restore the old balance that everyone was happy with or forge a new one that people are just as happy with. The current controversy is a waste of time and accomplishes nothing but weakening the republic and pissing people off.

Out of the question (2, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 months ago | (#47796995)

You want to keep spent fuel. It's not really "waste" - the anti-nuclear lobby just likes to call it that to hype up opposition. Current light water reactor designs use only about 5% of the U-235 in the fuel rods, and only about 1% of the total energy extractable from the uranium. That's why spent fuel remains "hot" for so long - the vast majority of the energy it contains is still there, and is emitted over time as radioactive energy as it decays.

So in essence, the "waste" is really fuel containing 100x as much energy as you've already extracted from it. If you send it to a breeder reactor, it can use the "waste" as fuel thus extracting more energy. The "waste" from that process converts it into a form which light water reactors can use again as fuel. You extract a much larger fraction of the energy from the original uranium, and the end product of all this would only remain "hot" for a few centuries instead of dozens of millenia.

"OMG - this solves the nuclear waste problem! Why aren't we doing this?" Unfortunately, breeder reactors create weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct. That's the only reason we don't do it - it's a purely political reason, not technical. President Carter banned the commercial use of breeder reactors in the U.S. in the interest of non-proliferation (the military still can and does use them).

I won't judge whether Carter made the correct call - that's a political decision. But you can see why you do not want to be selling spent fuel to a country you frequently butt heads with on the geopolitical arena. First, you're selling them cheap energy (that we ourselves choose not to tap for political reasons). Second, you're selling them the means to make more nukes.

Re:Out of the question (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47797045)

You're not telling me anything I don't already know and nothing you've said changes any of the arguments I made above.

You say the problem is politics and not technical. I said as much in my first sentence. However, just because the problem is political doesn't mean you can ignore it.

The political problems are already terminal. This country either clears some of this issue or it dies. Everything built by generations before us is falling apart because we are a society at war with ourselves.

The reason for this as I said was a general lack of respect for each other. A large number of americans hold a large number of americans in contempt. There is no respect. There is no common cause. There is no compromise. People see their own people as the enemy. People try to control the lives of people. People rebel and undermine the forces that try to control them. The system snarles on itself and goes into cardiac arrest.

In the meantime... there are no solutions. Just power plays. One group of people finds a way to force another group of people to do something against their will... often by shoving guns in their faces. The other group of humans tends to respond in kind or perhaps just finds ways to take the ability to send men with guns away so the threat is just words.

It goes back and forth... and it won't stop until we respect each other. Absent that... chaos.

Ask any group of americans anywhere in the US about other groups of people in the US and you'll find that given portions of the country hold other portions of the country in contempt. There is no respect for their opinions. Their views. Their interests. Their rights. Often these people held in contempt only live 20 to 40 miles away. Sometimes only across the street. And when one wars against the other all we have is chaos.

Do I need to be specific? I'd rather not. We're all so factional these days that if I reference anything anyone associated with that faction will take my post as an attack on their faction and war against me... thus missing the whole point of my post.

Here is what will work... what will bring balance to the Union. Leave people alone. Absent that... everyone will try to control everyone... everyone will try to undermine everyone... and we will only have chaos, weakness, and degeneration.

Either we come to an understanding not based on force, violence, or compulsion... but rather consent... or the republic is finished. We can devolve into an oligarchy or a dictatorship. Those are quite stable despite having an US vs THEM mentality in the citizenry. Some of them are even strengthened by it. Sense political weakness? Just beat the drums about the OTHER people, possibly kill a few thousand of them just to show them who is boss... and have a parade.

This is the world this internal strife is making inevitable. It might take 200 years for it to get that bad. But it will happen unless something changes. Look at how much has changed in such a small span of time. Imagine that sort of change ongoing... graph the trend.

This either stops or the republic dies.

Reprocessing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796345)

What about reprocessing it on-site? Not all of US Nuclear plants' nuclear "waste" is actually waste.

Long-term: nuclear energy is our species' only real option, especially if we want to get off the planet. The sooner we start making sensible and informed decisions about energy, the better.

Re:Reprocessing? (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 3 months ago | (#47796433)

What about reprocessing it on-site? Not all of US Nuclear plants' nuclear "waste" is actually waste.

Long-term: nuclear energy is our species' only real option, especially if we want to get off the planet. The sooner we start making sensible and informed decisions about energy, the better.

Or we could just build fast neutron reactors instead. That way the 'waste' could be used as fuel with (as far as I know) very little, if any, reprocessing.

Re:Reprocessing? (3, Informative)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 3 months ago | (#47796485)

You can't just dump spent LWR fuel into a fast reactor - the concentration of fissile material is far too low for it to go critical.

Reprocessing's been done, but it's quite messy and there's no demand for the recovered fuel. Making MOX is much more difficult and expensive than making standard uranium fuel. It's cheaper, easier and probably safer to just store the spent fuel in dry casks until a suitable disposal site is found. Fortunately, those casks last a long time.

Re:Reprocessing? (2)

brambus (3457531) | about 3 months ago | (#47796497)

That way the 'waste' could be used as fuel with (as far as I know) very little, if any, reprocessing.

Even with modern fast reactor designs running on metallic fuel, some reprocessing is still necessary, though it's nowhere near as involved, messy and proliferation-prone as PUREX and aqueous processes. The most tantalizing prospect for fast reactors running on metallic fuel, especially for systems which incorporate fission product off-gassing and capture while in operation, is the ability to achieve extremely high burn up, which allows this reprocessing step to only be performed at very infrequent intervals (say once every 30-40 years). This means the power plant doesn't need its own attached reprocessing facility (as the IFR project proposed), but instead the investment in the reprocessing facility can be shared, concentrated into a single, well secured and efficient facility for, say, the whole country.

Re:Reprocessing? (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 3 months ago | (#47796519)

That way the 'waste' could be used as fuel with (as far as I know) very little, if any, reprocessing.

Even with modern fast reactor designs running on metallic fuel, some reprocessing is still necessary, though it's nowhere near as involved, messy and proliferation-prone as PUREX and aqueous processes. The most tantalizing prospect for fast reactors running on metallic fuel, especially for systems which incorporate fission product off-gassing and capture while in operation, is the ability to achieve extremely high burn up, which allows this reprocessing step to only be performed at very infrequent intervals (say once every 30-40 years). This means the power plant doesn't need its own attached reprocessing facility (as the IFR project proposed), but instead the investment in the reprocessing facility can be shared, concentrated into a single, well secured and efficient facility for, say, the whole country.

I'd mod you guys up as "Informative" if I could. The info is appreciated, thanks! :)

Re:Reprocessing? (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47796503)

Reprocessing is an expensive task and I doubt it can be justified money-wise to do it on site for all or most sites.

Re:Reprocessing? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47796511)

While I agree with you, most humans are neither sensible nor informed...

This is the great flaw with democracy and allowing everyone to have a say. Most people have no idea what is going on and frankly don't really want a say, they just want to watch American Idol.

"Thank you, Mr. Buffett. Here have some tax $" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796353)

As a psychic, I predict that BNSF will get said contract.

TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (5, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 3 months ago | (#47796377)

There is no reason the design of a waste hauling train should wait until a site is identified, thus delaying the removal of the waste from many scattered temporary storage sites. The hauling design and the site identification can proced in parallel.

Indeed: The characteristics of the hauling solution may limit the selection of sites to which the waste could be hauled with acceptable levels of safety. That would argue for the design to PRECEED site selection.

Re:TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#47796427)

If you could refrain from being sensible you might be in a position to help us with our fevered ranting and raving.

Re:TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796439)

"Government "economic stimulus" programs destroy more jobs than they create."
Please stop lying. In every instance they created more jobs.
EVERY. SINGLE. INSTANCE.
Fuck twad.

citation needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47797251)

because the broken window fallacy still holds

Re:TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 3 months ago | (#47796443)

Exactly correct. If the target date for an "interim test storage site" is 2021, that's only 7 years out.

Let's allow a year to figure out what the specs ought to be, a year to request and evaluate proposals from possible contractors, a year to build prototypes, a year of testing, a year to fix problems identified in testing, a year to manufacture the first few final-version railcars, and a year for overruns. That's a seven-year timetable right there.

Unless we want to be running late, paying tons of money out in overtime, and getting railcars that kind-of-sort-of work right most of the time...then yeah, right now is a good time to start on this stuff.

Re:TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796989)

Remaining question:
How long does it take to build the required storage facility?
Just identifying the location is just that. I presume some sort of storage facility will have to be built and depending what that is (tunneling required?) that may take a while.

If the planned strucures are built quickly, yeah fine, design the trains now.
If the building takes a few years, then designing and building the trains will be wasteful. If the US situation is anything like here in Germany, "finding" and settling on a location will take a decade of bureaucratic trench fighting, a few law suits by whoever lives remotely near the candidate site(s), further infighting, perhaps another cancelation and new search....

If things go really well for the train contractors, by the time a final location is found and decided on, the train carriages will have rusted nicely for a decade and need replacing (and/or maybe a redesign?) before the first shipment of waste can be taken anywhere.

Re:TFA betrays Ray Henry 's ignorance of planning. (1)

swillden (191260) | about 3 months ago | (#47797071)

Exactly what I came here to say. Well put.

I know where it can go (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 3 months ago | (#47796383)

The us/mexican border. ( the unguarded part )

Ask Rudy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796393)

For he is on a train to nowhere. Half way down the line already.

Re:Ask Rudy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796907)

Actually, I think he's closer to three-quarters down the line already.

Thats a long stretch to try and create (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47796401)

government hate.
Seriously. They know they will need something, so they are looking for ideas. They aren't purchasing them, they are looking ahead.
Something the government does rather well, but you knuckle heads can't possible understand that.

Well, the government used to do it very well, now there are fanatics in office that just stop any forward looking planning that doesn't jive with there religious views.

Just a thought... (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 3 months ago | (#47796469)

Is there any reason why the containers couldn't simply be designed to conform to the specifications a standard ISO shipping container? Instead of designing a whole new train and set of carriages they could just put the special container onto a specially chartered train that is other wise standard. Why couldn't that be done?

Oh wait, it's MDsolar again.

Re:Just a thought... (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 3 months ago | (#47796473)

Another, altogether better idea would be to simply build fast neutron reactors and use the 'waste' to generate heat and electricity.

Where there is a wil.. (1)

mauriceh (3721) | about 3 months ago | (#47796477)

If we can drill big holes really deep in the desert and explode weapons tests there, I feel it is likely we can also bury waste in deep holes there, just as well.
Seriously folks, what is the big deal?
Oh, right. Politics. Especially right wing nutjobs.
Obstructionism incarnate

Re:Where there is a wil.. (2)

Thagg (9904) | about 3 months ago | (#47796499)

It's harder than you think, unfortunately. Nuclear weapons have a few kilograms of radioactive material, reactors have more than a few tons. The Yucca Mountain repository, the best that nuclear engineers could come up with, had to be certified to be safe for 10,000 years...but literally after 10,000 years things could have gotten out of control. It's a tough problem.

That said, it means that we have to try harder. The problem is not going to go away; we have to pursue better approaches.

Re:Where there is a wil.. (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47796529)

Yea, like get over our stupidity and stop trying to store things for 10,000 years, which is absurd.

How about we instead be ok to reprocess the waste and turn it into new fuel?

Such technology exists, but our government has made it illegal out of fear of the spread of nuclear weapons.

Data Fabrication (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47797153)

Yucca became impossible when USGS scientists fabricated data. Now, we can never really know about any of the other science done there. The whole thing has to start over and it can't be Yucca because the temptation would be too strong to try to use some study or other that has already been done. Back to the drawing board. Mississippi says it does not want it. http://www.sunherald.com/2014/... [sunherald.com]

Re:Where there is a wil.. (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#47796525)

Oh, right. Politics. Especially right wing nutjobs.

Actually, the anti-nuke types tend to be left wing nutjobs.

Re:Where there is a wil.. (2)

michael_cain (66650) | about 3 months ago | (#47796775)

When you go back and read the history of how many potential sites were originally proposed by the DoE, and how those sites were eliminated from consideration until only Yucca Mountain was left, it turns out that both sides are anti-nuclear-waste. When the list had been reduced to three by years of deal-making in Congress, it was cut to one in a naked political maneuver involving a Texas conservative and Washington liberal in leadership positions. Following the closed-door committee meeting where the deed was done, reporters asked the chairman what had happened. The quote he gave them was, "We screwed Nevada." The change was attached to a budget reconciliation bill so that it could not be debated in either the House or the Senate.

A bill to restart the work at Yucca Mountain, or other western location, for a disposal site for eastern nuclear waste -- the vast majority of the commercial power reactors in the US are east of the Great Plains -- is one of the few things that would get the western states' Congressional delegations to vote unanimously, regardless of party affiliation. The last time it happened was for the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Re:Where there is a wil.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796893)

Actually I belong to NPD you insensitive clod!

Re:Where there is a wil.. (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 3 months ago | (#47796591)

I've visited the Nevada Test Site. Our fossil drilling history has given us an unparalleled ability to bore straight holes eight and twelve feet in diameter (standard sizes on the Site) for thousands of feet down. Start anywhere in the country and rill an eight-foot hole down through any sedimentary strata to basement rock, and then keep going for another few thousand feet. drop anything you want in there and allow room for a few hundred feet of sealing concrete before you reach the top of the basement rock layer, and you have a time capsule that will stay there for geologic eons.

We could dispose of our spent nuclear fuel that way, but we wouldn't want to. We would be wasting a large amount of usable fuel.

Re:Where there is a wil.. (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 3 months ago | (#47796629)

Yes that right wing nutjob Harry Reid.

2048? (0)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 3 months ago | (#47796501)

What makes them think there will be safe rail lines or functioning trains in 2048? Let alone going to whatever god-forsaken place they decide to store the stuff.

We don't need a disposal site (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 3 months ago | (#47796509)

We need a recycling plant with buffer storage. the whole "disposal" paradigm, including guarding the waste for hundreds of thousands of years, is predicated on the idea that the 95% of unburned fuel that keeps the stuff hot for so long is something that should be thrown away while it slowly decays. It should be recovered and re-used, so that the actual waste remaining after that is trivial. If we used Yucca Mountain as the buffer storage, an accompanying recycling plant would mean lots of good jobs for Nevadans.

Well the best place for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796539)

Would be the ocean - just like Fukishima - it's entirely safe.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796631)

And who said Nuclear power didn't cause pollution... We still can't get rid of the waste properly, minus launching them into the sun.

Waste not Want Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796647)

One suspects that wherever the 'waste' train goes it should be easy to find. After all, we may want to throw away sources of energy that will be active for centuries. But future generations, after we have blow through all the oil, may feel differently. And don't give me that wind mill junk -- adding frictional losses to the circulation of the air and water is not going to help...

Shoot It Into Space? (1)

InfoJunkie777 (1435969) | about 3 months ago | (#47796711)

It may sound far-fetched, but an electromagnetic rail gun would be feasible. Especially if the waste could be made into smaller units. Just aim it into the sun! No more problem. As a side benefit, the technology learned from this could be used to perhaps shoot material into orbit to build spacecraft out THERE, where the high cost of escaping the gravity well of earth would not be present.

Re:Shoot It Into Space? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47796837)

It's pretty much impossible to fire something from the ground, or even the highest mountain and have it escape the Earth's gravity. The velocity required and the air you much push through is too high.

I don't want to think what would happen if you shot radio active nuclear waste out of a cannon (or rail gun as you suggest) at over 25,000mph (+ a few 100,000mph to compensate from atmospheric drag) in the atmosphere.

The only way to get something out of Earth's gravity is to strap a rocket to it, so you can continue to accelerate it once it's outside the atmosphere.

Re:Shoot It Into Space? (0)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 3 months ago | (#47797099)

It may sound far-fetched, but an electromagnetic rail gun would be feasible. Especially if the waste could be made into smaller units. Just aim it into the sun! No more problem. As a side benefit, the technology learned from this could be used to perhaps shoot material into orbit to build spacecraft out THERE, where the high cost of escaping the gravity well of earth would not be present.

Why fire perfectly usable fuel into the sun? Quite frankly, you're insane.

i know where to store it (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 3 months ago | (#47796769)

put as much as possible in Harry Reid's house, fill his bathtub, swimming pool refrigerator, freezer, and leave a note saying "Thanks for Yucca Mountain"

Re:i know where to store it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47796853)

Use the House nearest to Washington DC Why let the rest of Congress out of the fun?

Monorail (1)

simishag (744368) | about 3 months ago | (#47796923)

It put North Haverbrook on the map.

team player (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47797053)

gotta get those contracts out to your friends before your time in office is up

You're mixing your metaphors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47797089)

In this situation, the horse is the train, as it moves the cart. So it comes first.

Or maybe the horse is the locomotive, and the cars are the cart?

Then the casks are the load? Well, those are already in existence, I think.

So really, it's just a matter of the the tracks to the right place, but it's not like those aren't standardized, so non-issue.

Can We Have A Vitrification Train Instead? (2)

mallyn (136041) | about 3 months ago | (#47797241)

Folks: What would happen if instead of trying to figure out where to send the waste to via rail; we would have a portable vitrification system that can be sent to different power plants via rail. Vitrification (go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V... [wikipedia.org] for the wikipedia article) could possible be implemented via a portable facility that can be transported by rail. The portable vitrification facility would go from power plant to power plant and vitrify the waste to a glass like substance, which should be safer to handle and store. If all you are railroading around the country is a vitrification plant; there should be no problem with local communities. All you are moving around is an electric (or gas) furnace and associated support equipment. If that derails or is involved in an accident, then it would be no worse than just a piece of machinery such as a lathe or miling machine falling off of a train.
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