Nuclear Waste Storage Hoax Exposed!
By Paul Smith
We could have been energy independent by now!
For fifty years we have known about this site. Today, I am exposing the politics and the hypocrisy that our own Politicians have been perpetuating on the American Public. This country has never had a Nuclear Waste Storage problem! Here's why.
I interviewed Dr. Jim Conca, Director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center on Tuesday 2/24/10. I spent 58 minutes on the phone with him. It has to be one of the most fascinating and informative interviews I have ever done. The following article is from my interview with him. First let me explain what WIPP is and where it is. To see my previous article on waste storage in Japan, click here.
Note: I have been invited to an extensive tour of the plant and view areas that are not normally accessible to the public. I will keep you updated on when I go. I will be at the site on Friday! Watch for my follow up article!
Watch this 2.5 minute video I have obtained from the WIPP site first.
Do you remember during the Cold War with the Soviets? At some point we agreed to dismantle a huge amount of nuclear missiles. Ever wonder where all that waste went? It's not like we just threw it out with the garbage. So where has all that nuclear waste been going, all these years? Enter WIPP.
In 1957 the Congress identified along with all the leading scientists a massive a salt deposit underground 26 miles outside of Carlsbad New Mexico.
The salt is 6,000 feet thick and the most massive is 2,000 feet underground. Bedded salt is free of fresh flowing water, easy to mine and is impermeable and geologically stable for hundreds of millions of years. Why is it so ideal to put nuclear waste there? Under ground, the pressure on the salt is about 2,000 psi. Salt closes in on itself at a rate of three inches per year. Nuclear waste is stored in 55 gallon barrels known as dry storage. The barrels are stored in giant rooms called 'panels' that are 300 feet long, 33 feet wide and 13 feet high. This site will consist of 8 panels' total. It takes ten years for a panel to start to be fully enclosed and entombed by the salt.
Hard rock sites like Yucca Mountain crack and leak and were never designed to permanently store nuclear waste. So how did we ever get Yucca Mountain? It will get to that shortly.
The total available space the existing storage site contains is 16 square miles. When WIPP is full it will only take up one square mile. It is expected that by 2034 the 1 square miles parcel will be full. Why aren't we using the whole site to handle the entire nuclear waste that our commercials reactors produce? Read on!
In the 1970's during the Ford and Carter years the policy of the Government was not to recycle spent fuel rods. They wanted to find a site that would house the waste for 50 years so it could be dug and dealt with then. The thinking was that in 50 years technology would have been created to help deal with the nuclear waste issue better than existed at that time. Since they were only looking for a 50 year site, the WIPP site was never considered. Dumb, dumber and dumbest decision made by the Federal Government in quite some time concerning waste storage.
In 1987 the vote came up to identify a site to create the 50 year storage facility. The Speaker of the House then was Jim Wright from Texas. One of the sites in the final cut was in his state. The other was in Yucca Mountain where a young junior Senator named Harry Reid, protested against the Yucca Mountain proposal. It seems every scientist then had warned that Yucca Mountain was a risk, and not suitable for storing nuclear waste. But politicians determined to go against scientific data and Yucca Mountain was forced on the country. This decision is still costing the US economy and its energy program to this day.
The WIPP site in the past ten years has received more nuclear waste than the Yucca Mountain plant was ever designed to hold. The Yucca Mountain site was doomed to failure from the start as far as storage.
Remember the WIPP site was identified in the 1950's as a perfect site and designated in the 1970's was designated to be a 10,000 year storage facility. In 1999 after 17 years of permitting and clearing environmental issues the site opened. However, it is not approved to handle any commercial reactor's spent fuel.
As a result of not using the WIPP site for commercial reactor waste, the US is now behind the rest of the world by 20 - 30 years in developing nuclear technology.
One ounce of Uranium produces the equivalent amount of energy that 75 tons of coal does.
How far is the US behind?
Currently, there are three different processes for producing electric power:
Baseload is electricity that is always there. It is produced by coal, oil and nuclear.
Intermittent is powered by water, wind and solar.
Backup is power you can be accessed on in a pinch to produce electricity at a great cost. Like a gas fired electricity plant.
There have been no new reactors built in the US for over thirty years. The designs that should be approved in 2014 are only for third generation nuclear plants. Why not bring up 3rd and 4th generation reactors fast? Let me explain what fuel a fourth generation nuclear plant requires that will take advantage a bevy of new third generation reactors first.
A fourth generation nuclear plant, also called a fast-reactor, is cooled by molten salt.
The newest salt used is fluoride salt that has none of the dangers of the old sodium salt. It melts at 1,600 degrees and cools the rods because of the heat it absorbs. But, in the US, we can't jump to this technology yet but when we do they will run on spent fuel rods from third generation nuclear plants! This illustrates how far behind the rest of the world the US is, because we don't have even one third generation plant! We need to build 200 third generation reactors in the US, in the next 40 years, and then build the fourth generation plants to take us into the distant future. When we get to fourth generation plants we will have fuel for 30,000 years. If we start now we will have enough capacity to completely power all the electricity needs in the US for the next 1,000 years.
Chernobyl was not a commercial reactor. It was a poorly designed weapons grade reactor. Not many folks know that. A fuel rod bundle is fifteen feet high and about two feet around. In a third generation plant, that will last about five years before it is spent. Then it is sent onto the fourth generation plant where that bundle will last almost 50 years.
By building fourth generation plants, which use spent fuel rods for power, we will greatly reduce the amount of high level nuclear waste needed to be disposed. This use of spent fuel rods in generation4 plants, greatly reduces the ultimate amount of nuclear waste after it is used.
The design of third and fourth generation plants are vastly safer than the one we currently operate. Today we have 18 year olds running nuclear subs and aircraft destroyers. It is safe to say we have figured it out.
Three Mile Island. No one was injured in this industrial accident. Even the amount of radiation released to the environment was below background radiation. This plant was not computerized and has no sensors to detect malfunctions in any of the valve that was stuck open. This was a 2nd generation plant and with today's technology, could not occur with modern designs. But the memory lives on and has prevented any real advancement in nuclear power plant building since then. Think about it. How many people have died in auto crashes, airplane crashes, or hooligans at a soccer match? Did we prevent the advancement of those industries or cancel soccer games forever? We can and must allow the new technology to be used in the construction of these sites and start creating consistent and predictable electricity.
Why have we not been told about this place?
In a nutshell its politics. No politician wants to be known as a pro-nuclear guy in fear he or she won't be elected or re-elected. The yell "not in my state!' has been used as a battle cry to get elected. It has been driven by sheer ignorance and the failure of politicians to study and learn about the issue. The fact is, we have been storing military grade nuclear waste at WIPP since 1999. Have you seen any mobs of people lined up protesting? And don't forget this site was identified in 1957 as the optimal place for storing nuclear waste! Congress has not yet allowed the site to be used as a commercial waste disposal facility. Congress did not want to tout its success. So for 50 years the public has had no idea how easily and well we can dispose of nuclear waste.
Great... we can store military waste, but we cripple our own ability to make electricity by not allowing commercial waste to be stored in the most efficient suitable geologic formation which exists in America, today. How are we serving the general good by hampering our ability to store waste?
Folks we could have been building fourth generation nuclear plants by now and leading the world, instead of wondering what the heck happened. Do you realize that Westinghouse used to be an American company until last year? It was bought out by foreigners and is now one of the dominant Nuclear Reactor builders in the World. That would be no jobs for Americans either. Our own Government has perpetuated the myth that we don't have the ability to store waste. Various environmental groups have been screaming about an issue that was solved in the 1950's. This has led to the US to slip to a second rate energy player in a nuclear world.
This country needs electricity that is stable and predictable. If we end up having 100 million electric cars someday, we need, somehow, provide electricity to them, in the evening after the sun sets or if the wind doesn't blow to charge them up. Hanging our hats on the intermittent power source is dangerous.
Nuclear Power is by far the cheapest per kilowatt hour of any power source that exists and 100% reliable. If oil prices fluctuate, who cares? Although we need as much solar and wind power we can achieve we will never replace the need to have a constant stream of electricity.
What do you need to do?
Educate yourself on the technology. Send this link to every person you know. Don't let those that want to cry wolf get away with misrepresenting the facts about Nuclear Energy. Educate your Congressperson! Send them this article and get them to allow commercial storage. Start pushing for Nuclear Power in every opportunity you can. Invite me to speak at your meeting. And support my campaign.
Visit my website and help me make the change to return Congress to the people. www.PaulSmithforCongress.org
* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze
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