Judgment Day arrives for Ralph Nader's "Catch 22" on nuke waste
"Back in the 1970s when he led the anti nuclear movement in the US, Ralph Nader helped conceive the strategy to 'constipate' the nuclear industry.
The plan was to convince the public that nuclear waste was impossible to dispose of safely, and therefore, the nuclear power industry should be phased out. This kind of adversarial debate is deemed essential to the functioning of US democracy I don't criticize Nader for exercising his right to speak freely.
However, the actions of those taking this side of the debate will increasingly be seen as inappropriate in the light of events at Fukushima. People opposed to nuclear power have stopped any and every effort to solve the waste problem, compounding a risk that they say is their greatest fear."
Fukushima brings the result of these actions into sharper focus. That we continue to store accumulating nuclear waste above ground instead of where the industry and scientists involved envisioned it would be safely be by now - underground - is primarily due to the efforts of those who oppose the existence of the nuclear industry.
One "lesson learned" from Fukushima has to be that society finds anti nuclear political strategy that is calculated to increase nuclear risk unacceptable.
The underlying subtext of this article is that anti-nuke activists are at least in part to blame for the severity of the crisis. You can try and deny it all you want, but it doesn't change what it is.
4. That is assuming that there is a "safe" method to deal with nuclear waste.
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 08:01 AM by Democracyinkind
Many people don't think so; I'm part of that group.
But yes, the argument has some merit: Short of implementing a nuclear moratorium this strategy does tend to increase risks. But then there is the question of trading off of these risks; considering that, I think Nader's stance on this issue is right. (And lets not forget that this is not "Naders plan" - enviromentalists from across the world have come to the same conclusion and have implemented the same strategy independantly (think of Europe)....
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 08:08 AM by Democracyinkind
And yes, inaction was the goal. I'm part of the group that thinks that inaction is better than the alternative. All "definitive" solutions (which there aren't) should only be addressed after the implementation of a moratorium.
No fan of Nader here. Just saying; the strategy isn't "his"; Europe has come to implement the same strategy on its own; I maintain that there are good reasons for that; reasons that weren't addressed in the op.
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 08:52 AM by Democracyinkind
But yes, underground storage - for most contngencies - is safer than aboveground.
But once you have those underground storage facilities, people will think all is good and the problem is solved - which it is not.
That's why I will only support underground-end-storage when no new waste is produced.
It's not about holding anyone hostage. It's about preventing that the myth of "safe storage" can be utilized to further the industry's agenda. And it has worked very fine as far is I'm concerned. Plus, I've yet to see one serious, un-fraudulent "end-storage" proposal. I don't know how far things are in the states but the sites so far proposed in Europe are definitly neither "safe" nor "long term".
I'll be glad to give my ok to "end-storage" as soon as the nuclear-waste-pipeline has rund dry; but even then, that is just a cosmetic measure; neither is the problem "solved" nor is the waste "secured".
That's why I say: Once the industry is gutted, let's put the waste were it is "safest" (comparatively to other modes of storage). But until that time it is imperative to not have any solutions that can be spun as "long-term-safe" by the industry.
Then again, I really doubt that there will ever be a storage site that will conform to the minimal standards that concerned scientists say is needed - that's certainly the lesson to be gained from Europes efforts so far. So even storing the waste we have produced up to now in underground facilities may prove illusory.
14. Put it undeground as soon as we stop producing more of it.
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 08:43 AM by Democracyinkind
That's kind of the point: Not to have such plants in "a gazillion years".
Read my posts and you'll see that I agree with your assesment mostly. Underground is def. "safer" (in a comparative sense). But it's i) not a "solution" and ii) already quite impossible to deal with even given the amounts we have to store today. Underground storage is the best of bad options (now that were in it, we'll have to chose one option) - so we should only use it reservedly, for the waste we already have, not for waste we can now still prevent from being produced.
24. Obama's not going to stop producing more of it
and if Republicans win next year they certainly aren't.
What you're suggesting is do nothing for at least another 5 years. Then if a Democrat anti-nuke candidate is elected in 2016, what? Build more coal/natural gas while we're still playing with renewables? Another ten years down the drain.
So you want to wait at least 15 years to put the waste underground. Assuming nothing has happened in the meantime, nuclear plants shut down, problem solved. Except for the billions of tons of excess CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere now.
13. Correct, b/c Yucca sits on a fault line, is a dormant volcano and is sacred to 13 Tribes...
why would we ever oppose Yucca?
Never mind those agencies involved in the scoping of a long-term waste repository ignored there own plan (2 to 3 sites) and the advice of others (to look at multiple sites). Instead they just picked Yucca.
They failed to have appropriate dialogue between the Wester Shoshone Nation and other Tribes, a violation of US Federal Indian Policy.
Oh then there is the transport issues that impact towns (mostly rural, lower class, or Tribal Lands).
And finally there is the issue that Las Vegas and other cities in the southwest have grown in such population that finally there is a strong and active local voice against Yucca.
I don't see any one jumping up to the plate saying they'd like to house the long-term nuclear waste repository, I just see a lot of people saying it needs to "in the desert wastelands of the southwest" (actual quote in the Chicago Times back in the 90s)...sorry I don't consider my home to be in a wasteland, even though Nixon felt this way in 1972 (when he declared the American Southwest a wasteland for energy development).
And then this: Fukushima No. 1 plant designed on 'trial-and-error' basis While changes improved safety at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, overconfidence, complacency and high costs stymied such action at the now-crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to people familiar with the situation. The difference in the safety designs was the main reason why the crisis continues to unfold at the Fukushima No. 1 plant--one of the oldest in Japan--while the No. 2 plant a few kilometers south remains relatively unscathed by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201104060126.html
Well, when I look at the totality of what those stories discuss that is "wrong", I just don't see Nader as much of a factor. If that strategy has restricted the global exposure to the total risks of 440 reactors instead of 6000, then I suspect the overall balance of risk is far lower when we have:
440 reactors with 440 meltdown opportunities + 440 on site storage problems
Than if we have 6,000 reactors with 6,000 meltdown opportunities + a new yucca mountain sized storage facility being required every 8 months + increasingly energy intensive fuel requirements that escalate fission reactor emissions /kwh to levels comparable to natural gas.
21. The trouble at Fukushima has nothing to do with long-term waste disposal.
They could have opened up a disposal site right down the road from Fukushima five years ago and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference in the current crisis. Therefore Nader's position in the 70s isn't relevant.
Spent reactor fuel must sit in a pool for a few years while the short-lived fission products die out. After that point, they aren't particularly radioactive (so they aren't putting off much heat). There's a 7th fuel pool at Fukushima that hold the older fuel. It too lost power and cooling, but there just isn't enough heat being produced to boil off the water, nor start a fire if the water were gone.
"The spent-fuel pools at New England's oldest plants now hold up to five times more fuel than they were initially designed to handle.
The dramatic increases in the number of rods per pool have been approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, partly because a national disposal site for nuclear waste has not been established.
While the NRC insists the practice is safe, stuffing pools to their limit is inherently dangerous, many scientists and engineers say. They warn that the sheer volume of radioactivity in the pools, often far more than what is in a reactor, could turn an accident or natural disaster into a cataclysm. Also, they worry that the storage pools make tempting targets for terrorists (see accompanying story)."
I have no qualms with the claim that long-term storage is an important issue. My point is that Fukushima does not make it MORE of an issue. It's just an attempt to use the crisis to advance a position.
Dry cask storage out in the open isn't a great long-term strategy, but placing 100 of them at Fukushima wouldn't increase the radiation levels appreciably.
26. The volume of spent fuel isn't the same thing as the "volume of radioactivity"
That was my point. You can put a whole mess of ten-year-old fuel in a pool and there still isn't much radioactivity or heat. So the problems at Fukushima would not be exacerbated by a bunch of ten-year-old fuel in a pool
In fact... they HAVE such a pool and it hasn't been an issue.
The stuff that IS in the pools at the tops of those reactors is much "fresher" fuel... and it couldn't be moved to long-term underground storage if they wanted to.
So as I said, a long term repository wouldn't have helped Fukushima even if ALL of the fuel that could have been taken offsite was removed.
27. Fine, you disagree with "many scientists and engineers".
I have no idea who they are, or even if they're making it up.
But maybe you could provide a link that contradicts "They warn that the sheer volume of radioactivity in the pools, often far more than what is in a reactor, could turn an accident or natural disaster into a cataclysm."
There is a large volume of radioactivity in the pools.
The problem with tying this to Nader is that the large bulk of that radioactivity is in fuel that must remain in a pool. The material that's "cool" enough to move into long-term storage isn't a large part of the radioactivity.
If you took every kilogram of spent fuel that could be removed and sent it to Yucca for storage... that statement would still be just as accurate.
31. The stuffing is happening at least partly because there is no repository.
"Stuffing pools to their limit is inherently dangerous, many scientists and engineers say. They warn that the sheer volume of radioactivity in the pools, often far more than what is in a reactor, could turn an accident or natural disaster into a cataclysm."
If not a fire, what kind of cataclysm are "scientists and engineers" warning about? Does that have any relation to what's happening at Fukushima?
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