LDS Church wants nuclear waste disposal "options"

On Thursday, the LDS Church announced its opposition to a planned temporary nuclear waste storage facility in the west desert of Utah. Furthermore, they called on “the federal government to harness the technological and creative power of the country to develop options for the disposal of nuclear waste.”

This is significant because due to delays in the opening of Yucca Mountain, utilities had contracted with the Goshute Indian tribe of Utah to site high-level nuclear waste (spent fuel rods) on Goshute land (in Skull Valley). The utilities saw it as an opportunity to get their spent fuel away from their reactors and a lot closer to Yucca. The Goshutes saw it as a way to make a few billion dollars. The federal government saw it as encroachment on Yucca and potentially a move by the utilities to get all the billions they paid into the waste disposal fund returned. And Nevada saw it as an opportunity to add Utah to the “no waste in my state” crowd.

Now with the LDS Church weighing in on the matter, the Skull Valley deal is probably dead. This will put greater pressure on the government to open Yucca, which will probably intensify opposition from the Nevadans.

I bring all this up because a fast-spectrum, liquid-chloride reactor would be ideal for destroying this high-level waste and rendering it into a form that must only be isolated for a few hundred years. When the isolation time goes from 10,000 years to a few hundred years, potential disposal sites increase exponentially. Heck, you could probably store it all in one place for that long.

The liquid-chloride reactor option was most thoroughly explored by Dr. Mieczyslaw Taube of Poland, and later work was done by his student Dr. Eric Ottewitte, who later championed the LCFR to the Idaho National Lab. Here is a collection of some of their papers on the subject. Perhaps someone ought to send them to the LDS Church.

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