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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 5:04 pm 
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A couple of U.S. senators have introduced a new bill last week, which would create a new federal agency for the management of nuclear waste: the Nuclear Waste Administration. The bill has bi-partisan support and also proposes the construction of an intermediate storage facility. I am astonished that a new agency will have to be established for the management of nuclear waste. Is the Department of Energy not up to the task ? The development and the construction of the WIPP repository in New Mexico was managed by the DOE and has been a successful project AFAIK.

Source:
http://www.platts.com/latest-news/elect ... l-21216248


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 5:18 pm 
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The big deal is that the agency gets its funding directly from the fuel tax (~$800M/yr). In contrast, currently the tax goes into the general fund and then how much actually is spent on nuclear power is subject to normal politicians setting priorities.

The disappointment is that the Blue Ribbon Commission suggested this be a private/public corporation that could sign multi-year contracts etc. Being a government agency reduces the independence from political wrangling.


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 8:13 pm 
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Even the title "Nuclear Waste Administration" will reduce the prospect that they will seek to use spent nuclear fuel in productive and creative ways.

"Is Nuclear Waste Really Waste?," presented at Google in Mountain View, California, November 1, 2010


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 8:19 pm 
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Unfortunately, the likely response is to create a centralized location for dry cask storage of spent fuel that is at least 60 years old. I wish the BRC could have been more aggressive in their goals.


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 11:24 pm 
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I only read part of the article, but my first question is where this organization fits in to the federal government org chart. It seems to me that it should be a part of the DOE as someone suggested or the NRC. Why should it be an independent entity? Not only is that bad management structure, but it also perpetuates the myth that nuclear "waste" disposal is a much bigger problem than it really is.


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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2013 11:46 pm 
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The BRC wanted it to be a separate organization from the government to insulate it from the vagaries of annual budgeting. The main things the BRC could agree on were:
1) there is no need to rush to process the spent fuel
2) we would save significant funds by creating a central interim repository for dry cask storage
3) funds from the nuclear fuel tax should flow directly to this new organization and not be subject to congressional reprioritization
4) basically agreeing not to fight for the multiple billions already collected in nuclear fuel taxes but never spent to solve the problem.

So, this may be a good opportunity to at least get the spent fuel moved from the reactors to dry cask storage at an interim storage facility. In the process, maybe the public can realize that moving spent fuel through town is not exposing them to massive radiation - though you can bet that some activists are going to try some stunts to make the case.

Can't figure out why that should take multiple billions of dollars though.


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PostPosted: Jul 04, 2013 9:18 am 
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The DOE has not solved the so called "waste" problem. Sometimes you need to just make a decision and not wait for everybody to "what if" things to death. take a look at Hanford and the verification plant. they let the environmentalists groups "what If " things until no one can get anything done. It ends up being a money spending boondoggle. At the Idaho National Laboratory. They spit the contract between research and tearing old stuff down. While they did tear down so good resources, they got rid of a lot of old buildings that were a clean up risk. If you want them to solve a problem then give the contractors only one thing to think about.

They would not have to make a new agency but a division of doe.


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PostPosted: Jul 04, 2013 3:22 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Even the title "Nuclear Waste Administration" will reduce the prospect that they will seek to use spent nuclear fuel in productive and creative ways.



The agency might well be named the Nuclear Wasted Waste Administration. Why does a new interim waste facility have to be constructed and why can't Yucca Mountain be used for this purpose ? Many billions of dollars have already been invested in Yucca Mountain in the past couple of decades. I guess it would be much better to earmark a portion of the NWA funds ( $800 mn. p.a.) for transmutation purposes or for the development of reactors (DMSR, WAMSR, LFTR, etc.) that can do something useful with the "waste", so you don't have to build a large and costly repository in the first place.

As Lars says, it is also much better to have a private/public corporation in place for the management of nuclear waste, as happens in Sweden with the Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB.


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PostPosted: Jul 04, 2013 6:59 pm 
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camiel wrote:
it would be much better to earmark a portion of the NWA funds ( $800 mn. p.a.) for transmutation purposes or for the development of reactors (DMSR, WAMSR, LFTR, etc.) that can do something useful with the "waste", so you don't have to build a large and costly repository in the first place.

The whole point of creating outfits like NWA is precisely to discourage any questions about "doing something useful with the waste".

Once the used fuel is codified as "waste" it can only be disposed of - preferably in the most expensive way possible (the ALARA principle).

If someone were to ask the NWA some day, why they don't do something useful with the "waste", they can simply reply that its not their scope of work: GO TALK TO SOMEBODY ELSE about that.


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PostPosted: Jul 05, 2013 6:14 am 
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Maybe a name change could help: "Spent Nuclear Fuel Administration." Disposal could be a part of its mandate, but not its sole mandate.


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PostPosted: Jul 05, 2013 8:54 am 
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NRA - Nuclear Resource Administration.
UNFA - Unspent Nuclear Fuel Administration

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PostPosted: Jul 05, 2013 9:58 am 
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You just have to ask, "Is it better to do something with the spent fuel or to continue to do nothing and thus fuel the idea that the problem is unsolvable".


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PostPosted: Jul 05, 2013 10:01 am 
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KitemanSA wrote:
NRA - Nuclear Resource Administration.


I really like that one!


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PostPosted: Jul 06, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Is it possible that establishing a new agency is just a way to stall any action, while NEW NWA figure out what to do?


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PostPosted: Jul 06, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Ed P wrote:
Is it possible that establishing a new agency is just a way to stall any action, while NEW NWA figure out what to do?

I don't think so. The federal government is getting flak for breaking contract with the power plant operators in not removing the spent fuel. They are likely to start losing lawsuits and have to pay for storing the spent fuel onsite at the power plants - and worse at closed power plants where the storage of spent fuel will have to bear the full brunt of security costs. So it makes economic sense for the federal government to be seriously active to create an interim storage facility so the courts won't start fining them.


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