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PostPosted: Jun 23, 2009 7:06 am 
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A geologist interviews, claims Yucca Mountain is technically unsuitable. Says (i) it's too active seismically, and (ii) too oxidizing, because vitrified spent fuel is (soluble? mobile?) in wet, oxidizing conditions. Is this accurate?

http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22850/

Quote:
TR: Only last year, the Bush administration filed the necessary application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct Yucca. Now Obama's energy secretary, Steven Chu, says Yucca is "off the table." Is it really unsuitable?

AM: Yes. The area is seismically and volcanically active. More significantly, the repository would have an oxidizing environment--meaning materials there would be exposed to free oxygen in the air. Neither spent nuclear fuel nor canister materials are stable in such an environment in the presence of water. The United States is the only country that is considering a repository in an oxidizing environment.
...
TR: What's the right geology?

AM: Waste should be stored in a reducing environment [one not exposed to free oxygen], and this usually means underneath the water table, though salt formations can be reducing even if they are not below the water table. The Swedes and Finns are planning to put their waste inside granite and metamorphic rock, and the storage casks will be below the water table. And that's all okay. Spent fuel--which is just uranium dioxide, fission products, and actinides [radioactive elements, including plutonium]--is relatively stable under such conditions. With no free oxygen, it just sits there.

TR: Will we still need such storage even if future reactors burn more of the plutonium--or even if future generations decide to reprocess some of the old spent fuel to recover plutonium?

AM: Yes. The French reprocess spent fuel, but they still need a repository. They are doing research on a site at Bure, in northeast France. It has a kind of sedimentary rock that's relatively fine grained, and it's a reducing environment.


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PostPosted: Jun 23, 2009 1:29 pm 
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So what so is wrong with using WIPP?


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PostPosted: Jun 27, 2009 12:29 am 
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Ida-Russkie wrote:
So what so is wrong with using WIPP?


Legally, WIPP is only licensed for defense related Transuranic waste. Technically, I believe that heat generating waste will attract water to the waste and corrode it, removing one barrier of containment, but I am not sure. The Germans are having trouble with their site at Gorleben, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorleben . Again I don't know whether any of these problems are applicable to WIPP.

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 Post subject: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: May 13, 2011 7:41 am 
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GAO: Death of Yucca Mountain Caused by Political Maneuvering

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The Obama administration's rushed efforts to shut down Yucca Mountain were strictly political and could set back the opening of a nuclear waste repository by more than 20 years, according to a new report by a federal watchdog.

The administration killed the repository program last year without citing technical or safety issues, and restarting the costly and time-consuming process of finding a permanent repository or an alternative solution could take decades and cost billions of additional dollars, the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday.

The Energy Department began pursuing a license for the Nevada site in 2008 but pulled support a year later when the Obama administration said it was not an attractive solution for storing nuclear waste in the United States. The administration then closed out funding for the site, eliminated jobs and contractor activities and disposed of Las Vegas properties associated with the project.

"Several DOE officials told us that they had never seen such a large program with so much pressure to close down so quickly," the report said in reference to the repository located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The Obama administration did not provide a technical or scientific basis for shutting down the site and failed to plan or identify risks associated with its hasty closure, which could hinder the Energy Department if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or lawsuits prompt the agency to revive the project, the report said.

House Republicans who asked GAO to conduct the report in 2009 are pouncing on the study as proof the project should be revived, considering Yucca Mountain has already cost more than $12 billion, and a permanent repository would offer a nationwide solution for more than 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel currently being stored near reactors in 33 states, an amount expected to double by 2055.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Mar 14, 2015 3:41 am 
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NRC to supplement Yucca Mountain environmental impact statement

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The commission found that the EIS the Department of Energy (DOE) submitted in 2008 did not adequately address all of the repository-related effects on groundwater, or from surface discharges of groundwater. In 2013, it asked DOE to prepare a supplement. Instead, DOE updated its analysis of potential groundwater impacts after closure of a repository at the site, and in February 2015 the NRC directed its staff to prepare the supplement. They will use the DOE analysis in preparing the supplement.


Let me get this straight. The DOE produced an EIS in 2008. It took the NRC 5 years (!) to ask the DOE a question (!) about it. Now it has asked the question. Wow. Then the NRC takes 2 more years to start to "prepare" the document.

By the time the bureaucrats get off their butts, the fission products will have decayed all on their own and we won't need Yucca Mountain anymore.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 14, 2016 12:21 pm 
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Harry Reid and the Horse He Rode In On

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In an under-reported political bargain, Mr. Reid promised Mr. Obama that he would do the President’s dirty work on Capitol Hill if the President blocked the Yucca project. Mr. Obama named Reid aide Gregory Jaczko as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009, and a year later Mr. Jaczko shut it down.

Mr. Jaczko later resigned after the four other commissioners, Democrat and Republican, denounced his abusive management style. A pair of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings have since rebuked the Administration for violating the law in relation to Yucca, and in 2014 a government study found that the Yucca design for waste is environmentally safe. The U.S. still needs a solution for nuclear waste that is piling up at sites around the country.

Mr. Trump owes no political debt to Nevada, which due to Mr. Reid’s efforts voted last week for Hillary Clinton and defeated the GOP’s Senate candidate. Reviving Yucca would be a sign the Senate is moving past Mr. Reid’s era of dishonest political manipulation and partisan rancor.


Yucca may be a dumb idea, but the reasons they gave for stopping it are even dumber.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2016 10:44 am 
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Many obstacles remain before Yucca Mountain could accept first nuclear waste shipments

Quote:
The state maintains the Yucca Mountain site, with its engineered barriers to prevent radioactive particles from escaping, is flawed and has more than 200 technical challenges prepared that will “really pose a big obstacle” in the licensing proceedings should they resume, he said.

Key issues that the state could challenge include impacts on groundwater, the Energy Department’s “hot repository” concept – which envisions storage areas where temperatures can reach 96 degrees Celsius (nearly 205 Fahrenheit) — and plans to install titanium drip shields to prevent corrosion of waste canisters.


But the biggest one of these obstacles in leaving office permanently at the end of this year.

Seriously though, storing intact uranium dioxide, zirconium-clad fuel assemblies underground without some form of final processing is incredibly stupid. There's so many things in there looking for a final chemical equilibrium, and given 10,000 years, they'll find it. Our descendants will dig up Yucca Mountain looking for fissile material and marvel we were ever so stupid to try to bury this stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2016 11:01 am 
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Is there any reason Yucca Mountain could not be accessed later? As I recall it is just a set of tunnels that will remain intact - unlike the WIPP plant that will collapse the salt domes (or allow them to collapse).
If you go back in 50-100 years when the fuel is far less active chemical processing is likely to be much cheaper. And most fissile materials will still be in the fuel at that time (the only real exception will be 241Pu).


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2016 8:16 pm 
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It would be very much cheaper just to put the fuel in dry storage in a remote area. After 100 years, one may have to repackage the waste, but it will be cheaper then because of less heat and hopefully better technology. IMHO, if our society can not maintain dry storage, then it has bigger problems than a piece of the desert being radioactive.

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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2016 12:00 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Seriously though, storing intact uranium dioxide, zirconium-clad fuel assemblies underground without some form of final processing is incredibly stupid. There's so many things in there looking for a final chemical equilibrium, and given 10,000 years, they'll find it. Our descendants will dig up Yucca Mountain looking for fissile material and marvel we were ever so stupid to try to bury this stuff.


Processing is the real requirement. The best may be to convert a part of Yucca or nearby nuclear testing site to reprocessing. Conversion to Chlorides or fluorides may enable fractional distillation or crystallisation and cut the amount of waste produced. Chlorides/Fluorides of uranium and plutonium may also lead to MSRs.
Fission products are the real wastes and could be stored till their use is developed. Uranium and transuranics can be recycled.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Nov 21, 2016 2:12 am 
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Fuel reprocessing is preaching to choir here, but what all the other stuff from reactor teardowns, etc.? Or is that considered covered by other waste management systems, or is everyone still punting on that too?


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Dec 03, 2016 4:06 pm 
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DOE urges Trump team to ditch repository

Quote:
In their brief to Trump's team, current Department of Energy leaders said Congress has supported the administration's position that the site is "unworkable" since 2011 by not approving any new funding for the repository.

DOE officials went on to acknowledge that many lawmakers are eager to see Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing of the repository continue, but questioned whether that would happen.

"There are members of Congress who believe the Yucca Mountain NRC repository licensing process should be resumed and, at a minimum, completed to demonstrate that a disposal facility could successfully demonstrate its safety and obtain an authorization from NRC to being construction (even if it is never constructed)," they wrote.


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Dec 05, 2016 8:30 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
DOE urges Trump team to ditch repository

Quote:
In their brief to Trump's team, current Department of Energy leaders said Congress has supported the administration's position that the site is "unworkable" since 2011 by not approving any new funding for the repository.

DOE officials went on to acknowledge that many lawmakers are eager to see Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing of the repository continue, but questioned whether that would happen.

"There are members of Congress who believe the Yucca Mountain NRC repository licensing process should be resumed and, at a minimum, completed to demonstrate that a disposal facility could successfully demonstrate its safety and obtain an authorization from NRC to being construction (even if it is never constructed)," they wrote.


Hard to see how a repository can demonstrate safety. I think we'll just have to rely on calculations from engineers and geologists.

Assuming the US makes the sensible decision to reprocess spent fuel and close the fuel cycle, would there still be a use for Yucca mountain? Is it useful for fission products or is it cheaper to start over with boreholes for these?


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Dec 21, 2016 9:33 pm 
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Reid's retirement could rescue Yucca Mountain plan


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 Post subject: Re: Yucca Mountain
PostPosted: Dec 22, 2016 8:22 am 
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Perhaps the new Energy Secretary and Trump administration will be more rational, and have the Congress revise the waste act such that the policy is partitioning the fission products from the transuranics, and reuse at least the zirconium cladding? The fissile could be set aside for future use and the FPs could be mined for the useful isotopes.

And maybe the Yucca Mountain site can be re-purposed as future site of the Reid Memorial Museum, where the Senator could be interred??


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