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Editorial: A new era for nuclear? Solve waste issue first




Today marks the 75th anniversary of a discovery that forever altered the course of the world, for better and worse...

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Comments

ntravers9 4 years, 10 months ago

I am excited by continued developments in the field of nuclear energy. The safty and access to energy afforded is exciting. But there seems to be a major lack of research into safe processing and storage of wastes. Does anyone know of resources related to such research? I would like to look into it more. Nicholas - looking for jobs - Travers

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David 4 years, 10 months ago

I am grateful to see the positive aspects of Nuclear power presented here. The average cost of Nuclear power is 2.4 cents per kwh across the USA. This is below coal and only very very slightly above the cost of current prices for Natural Gas - where pipelines exist.

Also, Waste is not an Elphant it is a mouse. In terms of size, the amount of "waste" would fit in a single football field stacked only a few feet high. In terms of effect - the more long lived a radioactive element is the less dangerous it is. The longest lived elements - those still present after 100 years can be held in your hand. Finally, there are many good solutions to this "waste." The best is to use it for fuel in breeder reactors. These reactors of many types can turn these elements into useful heat - competing directly with Natural Gas, Oil and Coal. If you want to throw away the fuel, the best option is WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Project) in New Mexico. There the waste can be stored safely and cheaply in a community that is begging to receive it. There are many many other technical solutions to the "waste" problem. This is NOT an Elephant technically. It is only an Elephant because comparative risks are not communicated to the public.

Nuclear power is NOT the same as Nuclear weapons. The fuel put into a reactor - even if highly enriched to 20% cannot explode like a bomb. It is physically impossible. The Plutonium from power reactors cannot be used in a bomb unless you spend huge amounts of money to get rid of the parts or types of Plutonium that would destroy the weapon. No nation has decided to do this because it is easier to simply make the weapon's grade Plutonium directly.

These scary stories persist. Could it be because using heat from Nuclear power combined with carbon and hydrogen you can make liquid fuels and even natural gas? It is well known chemistry.

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AceHoffman 4 years, 10 months ago

People these days say the waste problem is about 65 years old, so based on this article, it took them 10 years to even realize it was a problem. Now imagine if they had decided not to proceed until the waste problem was solved. Where would we be? We wouldn't have 100 -- not 104 anymore, we lost four reactors permanently this year -- generating deadly waste we don't know what to do with! At the closed reactor sites, we wouldn't have deadly nuclear waste all piled up with nowhere to go. Instead we have chosen ~75 of the worst possible locations for nuclear waste -- near population centers, along coastlines, etc. -- not for their worthiness as a waste dump location, but for their proximity to large cities in need of massive amounts of power. Instead of planning to build SMRs, which will create -- and then leave -- billions of lethal doses of radiation every day they operate, including radioactive noble gases they cannot capture, we should freeze Fukushima, freeze the nuclear industry, and get on with clean, renewable energy, which nearly everyone knew we should have used all along, but the military wanted reactors, and the suits wanted the fortunes those reactors would bring, and rich people want to buy their own small modular reactors, and politicians listened to the eggheads talk about the advantages with dreamy unrealistic eyes (claiming nukes would produce energy "too cheap to meter"), and everyone ignored the waste, and here we are. Let's stop ignoring the Achilles' Heal of the nuclear industry!

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KendallMiller 4 years, 9 months ago

It's sad to see that the editors of a newspaper that should know better are so ill-informed. You fail to note that 150,000 people happily and healthily live right next to the Hanford Reservation. There's more people suffering from pesticide exposure in the orchards in your community than those that have been affected by wastes from nuclear power. Your attempt at inflammatory rhetoric is exhibited by your choice to group wastes from historic nuclear weapons production with those from power generation. They aren't the same thing. Other countries recycle power generation wastes into more nuclear fuel rather than bury them. The process reduces the volume of the waste stream by a factor of 10 and results in a final waste product that has a much reduced radioactive half-life. We are poisoning the air with CO2 from fossil fuels. How bad does it have to get before we do something rational?

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