Thursday, May 5, 2011

While Nuclear Waste Piles Up in U.S., Billions in Fund to Handle It Sit Unused

The Yucca Mountain site

With the nuclear predicament in Japan shedding light on how fragile nuclear power plants actually are, the spotlight has shifted to the spent fuel rods piling up in the US. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is 24 billion dollars just sitting in a nuclear waste fund for this purpose, but without a safer way to store waste it can’t be used. This money comes from taxes charged to nuclear reactor operators. In turn, the government would use the money to create a safe place and way to store reactor waste. The original plan was to store it inside the volcanic rock of Yucca Mountain which about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. 29 years later, the project was scrapped by the Obama administration. Nuclear companies have had to take the rods out of their own crowded pools and encase them in steel or concrete, a job that the government should have been doing all along. These dry casks are considered to be a safer way to store the rods. It’s extremely expensive to move pooled rods to dry casks. One expert estimates that it would cost 3.5 billion dollars to transport all of the spent rods that have been in pools for over five years.  Because of this, companies have filed a multitude of lawsuits equaling about 6.4 billion dollars. The government has already paid out around 956 million dollars to these companies. Everyone loses with what’s happening; the only ones getting rich are the layers. Nuclear power has been around for the better part of a century and no one has come up with an effective way of dealing with the spent rods. It’s time to say enough is enough at to dedicate our time and money into other ways of getting energy besides nuclear power. For further reading check out

-John Curran

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