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« H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 | Main | 1,800 tons of radioactive waste has an ocean view and nowhere to go »
Wednesday
Jul262017

The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California

Jim Heddle of EON (the Ecological Options Network) in California has written an excellent article, published at Counterpunch, summarizing the current state of "play" of the irradiated nuclear fuel dilemma in the U.S., with the most hotly debated microcosm currently being at San Onofre in s. CA.

Please note, re: this passage in the article

Political maneuvering led to a ‘Screw Nevada’ strategy because it had the fewest Congressional votes,  and the million dollar development of the state’s Yucca Mountain site.  Originally thought to be dry and impermeable to the migration of radioactive elements, the discovery that trace elements from explosions at the nearby Nevada Nuclear Test Site had penetrated deep into the Yucca Mountain facility in a relatively few years debunked that contention. (emphases added)

that $11 billion, a combination of nuclear power ratepayer funds from the Nuclear Waste Fund, as well as federal taxpayer funds tied to nuclear weapons complex high-level radioactive waste management, has been spent thus far on the Yucca Mountain Project. The U.S. Department of Energy's most recent cost estimate for the first 200 years of construction and operation, if the Yucca dump opens, is close to $100 billion.

And the trace element found deep in the heart of Yucca Mountain (artificial, radioactive Chlorine-26) actually originated from nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific Ocean. It fell with rain onto Yucca, then percolated down into the mountain very deeply in just decades. The Cl-36 thus unintentionally served as a sort of radioactive tracer, showing how fast corrosive water travels through the site's geology. This would cause early failures of waste burial containers at Yucca, leading to massive, hazardous radioactivity releases into the environment over time.