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United States Earth Government Power Transportation

Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go 258

mdsolar writes with news of a plan to move radioactive waste from nuclear plants. The U.S. government is looking for trains to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to disposal sites. Too bad those trains have nowhere to go. Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Department of Energy recently asked companies for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel. They won't be moving anytime soon. The latest government plans call for having an interim test storage site in 2021 and a long-term geologic depository in 2048. No one knows where those sites will be, but the Obama administration is already thinking about contracts to develop, test and certify the necessary rail equipment.
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

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  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @04:39PM (#47796575) Homepage
    There is many places which are really good to use as radioactive waste dumps. The most stable rock plate in Canada, known as the canadian shield is 4,5 bn years old to 540 millions years old and is stable since then. Of course, you have to make an agreement with government of Canada to use it and pay some kind of fee to monitor and secure it, however it is a perfectly acceptable solution.
  • by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @06:15PM (#47796955)

    US law requires the US government to collect and deal with spent nuclear fuel as it is regarded as a stategic material. The same law requires the power generating companies to pay a levy to the government per MWh of nuclear electricity generated for this to be done. As I recall they've paid (or rather the consumers have paid) over $30 billion since the levy was introduced.

    The power companies are now paying for on-site dry-cask storage of spent fuel since the US government isn't actually doing what they've been paid to do, that is take away the spent fuel and deal with it. They have stopped paying the levy after a court agreed with them and they are using some of those savings to fund the local dry-cask storage they need.

    The taxpayers have benefited from over $30 billion of free money gifted to the government by the electricity generating companies, it's not the other way around.

  • by sillybilly ( 668960 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @10:42PM (#47797763)

    At Chernobyl corrupt construction people stole the cement off the top of the containment building, and it did not function reliably as expected based on design.
    At 3 mile island an operator with a big gut fell asleep at the controls onto the counsel and knocked some buttons over.
    At Hiroshima and Nagasaki 100,000 people died, but they were self cleaning bombs and all the contamination went up into the troposphere to get evenly scattered around the whole globe. Both cities have thriving populations today. It wasn't until some Pacific atoll underwater explosion test that the first locally concentrated nuclear contamination, or local true environmental nuclear disaster took place, that had any kind of lasting permanence.
    At Chernobyl in the high radioactive zone life is thriving, it's not a desert at all. It takes a LOT of background radiation to really fuck things up.

    We're all scared shitless of the destructive power of nuclear catastrophes, but put to good uses, that power can be extremely helpful. Like it can power millions of ipods. Wind is nice, wind is environmentally friendly, wind is safe, but it is not guaranteed, nor does it have the energy density in a concentrated location like nuclear, available for base load. The future should probably be as much as possible wind and solar, with a nuclear backup to supplement the gap, and stay away from fossil electric, such as coal, natural gas, and oil. With transportation fossils of gasoline and diesel are like an absolute must - as you will never have a diesel freight truck go from New York to Chicago with a full cargo, and stop intermittently along the way to refuel, with electric. It's not possible. Electric is great for short range, like golf carts, or a 10 mile commute to your job in a teeny weeny car, but when it comes to hauling serious freight on asphalt, diesel is king. Of course there are electric trains, but they are not as robust as go anywhere back into any dock asphalt trucks. Even with trains, the cost of electrifying a track is too much compared to having a diesel-electric locomotive, as that's what all diesel locomotives are at heart, an electric train that carries its own electric power plant along, fueled by diesel. It's cheaper to carry the fuel along than put up and pay for maintenance of overhead electric cables on a long distance rail track. By far. Like imagine a rail track going through middle of nowhere like Wyoming, electrified with overhead wires. That would be really silly. Even with nuclear power they should generate liquid ammonia locally, and let a fuel cell train carry it along the track. The "electric" distribution and transport cost via packaged into liquid ammonia would be much cheaper than the infrastructure and megatons of thick copper clad steel or aluminum. A lot of back country homes have big propane tanks in the backyard, and they can run electric, heat, everything off of it, and order a shipment of fuel, and the whole thing is cheaper than putting up electric poles with thick cables, and playing the keeping the electric grid up and stable game.

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