Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tripling the size of Yucca Mtn nuke waste storage

Talk about mixed messages. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said recently that anyone considered for Secretary of Energy in the Obama admininistration will have to oppose opening the Yucca Mtn nuclear waste repository in Nevada. [right, north and south portals at Yucca Mtn. Credit, DOE]

Then yesterday, current Sec. of Energy Samuel Bodman said the statutory limit on storage capacity at the facility "is not based on any technical considerations, and the repository layout at Yucca Mountain can be expanded to accommodate three times the amount of fuel allowed under the current arbitrary cap. " Without that, he warned that the nation would have to start looking for a second repository.

The idea of looking for another waste storage site may put enough fear into other potential host states, that they will put even more pressure on approving Yucca Mtn over Nevada's objections.

Bodman's remarks came as DOE submitted two reports to Congress. The first asks that Congress lift the arbitrary limit of 77,000 tons of waste set in 1987, so that the facility can accept all of the estimated 130,000 tons of heavy metals that the nations nuclear power plants will generate over their operating lives, plus defense-related waste.

The second report rejected the proposal that reactor waste stay in temporary storage at government facilities.

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