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Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sun 19 May 2019, 02:06:21
by eclipse
diemos wrote:The data I'd like to have is air sampling measurements through HEPA filters in the Fukushima exclusion zone. Any sort of activity that would kick dust up into the air would seem problematic.

Agreed - nevertheless, it's still been over-scrubbed and over-cleaned. They should just get people back there, living and gardening and mowing and washing. Eventually most of the bad stuff would go down the drains or through waste disposal.

Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Fri 28 Feb 2020, 11:04:54
by Tanada
US cleanup mission set for big advances in 2020

This year will be a "milestone" in the USA's cleanup of legacy nuclear sites, including the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, as well as facilities in Idaho, Savannah River and Hanford, a senior US Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management officer has told stakeholders. In a separate development, miners at WIPP have completed the "rough cut" of the next area where transuranic waste will be emplaced.

As well as the start of construction of a new utility shaft at WIPP (which will provide added ventilation and allow greater flexibility for mining operations there), EM expects 2020 to bring the start of operations at major liquid waste facilities at its Savannah River and Idaho sites, as well as construction work at a plant to treat tank waste at the Hanford site, EM Senior Advisor Ike White said. The Hanford facility is expected to begin operations "within a few years", he said.

Addressing the Energy Communities Alliance - identified by EM as a "key stakeholder audience" - on 31 January, White said 2020 would see a "leap forward" in the office's ability to tackle tank waste, the largest and one of its most challenging environmental risks.

"Collectively, [these capabilities] represent a fundamental shift for EM as we complete these long-running construction projects and focus on waste treatment operations," he said. "Not only will 2020 serve as a milestone year for EM and the department, but I believe it will start off a decade of significant progress across the programme," he added.

Next panel for WIPP

WIPP is the USA's deep geologic repository for defence-related transuranic nuclear waste. Sealed drums of waste are placed 2150 feet ((655 metres) beneath the surface in panels mined into salt rock. Mining at WIPP is timed so a disposal panel is only ready when it is needed for waste emplacement, because of the natural movement of the salt that will eventually permanently encapsulate the waste.

WIPP's first six panels have been filled, and waste emplacement is taking place in the seventh. When Panel 7 is full, expected in late 2021, it will be sealed and waste emplacement will then move to Panel 8. Each of WIPP's panels consists of seven rooms that are 33 feet wide, 13 feet high, and 300 feet long. The rough cut of the new disposal area, which has now been completed, gives the panel its shape. The ribs, or walls, will now be widened, and salt will be excavated from the floor to create the necessary height so waste canisters can be stacked in the rooms. Bolts are installed to stabilise the salt as mining progresses. Once mining is done, crews will install lighting, steel bulkheads, and wire mesh on the walls.

Work on Panel 8 began in late 2013, but was interrupted for more than three years after operations at WIPP were suspended following separate fire and radiological events in 2014. Waste emplacement resumed in January 2017 and mining operations in January 2018.


Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sun 01 Mar 2020, 21:44:14
by eclipse
Yes, some of those earlier military experimental sites got a bit messy.
It's sad that so many people today associate those early rushes to the bomb with the same word, 'nukular', that today represents Gen3+ or even Gen4 reactors that could supply us will all the reliable, abundant carbon neutral power we could wish, for billions of years.

Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Fri 25 Sep 2020, 20:50:12
by Subjectivist
Bill would create new federal research program for nuclear waste disposal

In Europe and Asia, spent nuclear fuel is routinely recycled so it can be used again — which cuts down on how much high-level waste must eventually be stored. In the U.S., spent fuel is discarded with more than 90 percent of its usable material still intact, filling up “beachfront nuclear waste dumps” like the one at San Onofre .
A federal bill that would pump a half-billion dollars into America’s long-stalled effort to find a permanent home for such waste would nudge reprocessing of spent fuel back on the table and prod officials toward big-picture solutions. The Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Research and Development Act, by Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, would create, among many other things, “an advanced fuel cycle research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program” at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The program would be charged with investigating improvements to the fuel cycle, advanced reactor concepts “while minimizing environmental and public health and safety impacts,” and much-needed storage options, from dry casks to deep geological boreholes. Boreholes have long been considered the single best method to isolate nuclear waste for the long haul, but efforts have been plagued by opposition from communities unwilling to be home to the nation’s nuclear waste.

A related bill, introduced by Reps. Conor Lamb, D-Pennsylvania, and Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, would primarily boost research and development of next-generation nuclear reactors at the DOE to help tackle climate change — a concept not likely to go over well in California, which has a ban on new nuclear development until there’s a permanent repository for the waste. But the Lamb-Newhouse bill also would authorize a used fuel research and development program that could also include reprocessing.

Levin’s program would not be funded from the $43.5 billion Nuclear Waste Fund, which came from utility customers who used electricity generated by nuclear plants, but instead would come from the DOE’s budget, Levin’s office said. It would total more than $507 million over five years.

“The spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre and other decommissioned plants across the country poses serious risks to our health and safety, and we must strive to find new solutions to store and dispose of the waste responsibly,” Levin said in a prepared statement. “This bill would bring us one step closer to getting the waste at San Onofre off of our beach, and that remains one of my top priorities.”

The bill is part of a legislative package heading to the House floor later this week.
Recycling waste

Reprocessing, however, has had a fraught history in the United States. The technology to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from used nuclear fuel was developed after World War II and was an integral part of the nuclear plan in America, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

But reprocessing fuel produces material that can easily be used in nuclear bombs, while regular spent fuel does not. After India started showing off its nuclear muscle in the 1970s, America got spooked. President Gerald Ford suspended commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in 1976, concerned that it could fall into the wrong hands. A year later, President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order that etched the policy into stone.

President Ronald Reagan reversed Carter’s order, but the work never really ramped back up. Congress soon passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act — committing the federal government to accept and store spent commercial nuclear fuel in exchange for payments from the nuclear plant operators — so there wasn’t much more impetus for reprocessing.

Levin’s bill instructs the DOE to “ensure all activities and designs incorporate state-of-the-art safeguards, technologies and techniques to reduce risk of proliferation.”

While common around the world, reprocessing has strong critics. The Union of Concerned Scientists calls it dangerous, dirty, and expensive.

“While some supporters of a U.S. reprocessing program believe it would help solve the nuclear waste problem, reprocessing would not reduce the need for storage and disposal of radioactive waste. Worse, reprocessing would make it easier for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons materials, and for nations to develop nuclear weapons programs,” the watchdog group says in its primer on the topic.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future rejected calls for reprocessing in 2012, saying “all spent fuel reprocessing or recycle options generate waste streams that require a permanent disposal solution.”

“Nuclear waste reprocessing does not benefit the environment — it only benefits the nuclear industry, and then not by much,” said Bart Ziegler, president of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation. “It’s a very financially costly process and lends to more waste effluent.”

David Victor, a UC San Diego professor and chair of a volunteer committee advising on San Onofre’s tear-down, said he sees the bill trying to create a big tent of supporters. Reprocessing wouldn’t make much sense in the U.S. unless there was a huge new demand for nuclear fuel, he said by email.

Having options and alternatives for off-site storage or disposal of spent fuel will be beneficial to removing it from San Onofre, said Southern California Edison by email. “We appreciate Rep. Mike Levin’s effort to provide those through his legislation.” ... -disposal/

Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Fri 25 Sep 2020, 20:53:51
by dissident
Moving in the right direction but not quite there. The proper way to dispose of the "waste" is to burn it in fast neutron reactors. This requires restoration of the fuel reprocessing capacity that was killed off by the idiot Carter. Waste storage is not some separate problem that requires its own unique solutions.

There will still be some left over waste in the form of actinides that require storage for about 300 years to break down. But this is vastly easier than trying to store "waste" for thousands of years.

Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Fri 25 Sep 2020, 22:57:43
by eclipse
I agree! Burn it!

“While some supporters of a U.S. reprocessing program believe it would help solve the nuclear waste problem, reprocessing would not reduce the need for storage and disposal of radioactive waste. Worse, reprocessing would make it easier for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons materials, and for nations to develop nuclear weapons programs,” the watchdog group says in its primer on the topic.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future rejected calls for reprocessing in 2012, saying “all spent fuel reprocessing or recycle options generate waste streams that require a permanent disposal solution.”

Seriously - what's WRONG with these people?

I have a non-technical humanities background, but once I heard about breeder reactors that do this magical thing of burning nuclear waste and getting 60 to 90 times the energy out of it I immediately understood the EROEI implications for nuclear power. Breeders don't require high energy inputs like uranium mining and reprocessing - and so their EROEI calculations are through the ROOF - paying back several THOUSANDS of times the energy it took to build the reactor! Indeed, even with my non-technical background I couldn't help myself and read a few books on it and while I didn't even do high-school physics and chemistry I know enough about this to overturn the assumptions of the average man in the street. These people are running on emotion - and it really bugs me.

BOMBS? Reprocessing is called pyroprocessing. It's a giant electro-chemical bathtub that separates out the good from the bad collects all the good stuff together. It will burn in the reactor, but it won't go boom. It's not bomb-grade material. It doesn't separate out only the bomb-grade stuff - but collects all the fertile and fissionable stuff together.

BREEDING: Indeed, from a reactor fuel process this is a bit of a challenge. Having all the fertile stuff in there means it's not ready to fission yet. Think of it as wet firewood. And just as you might put wet firewood around a roaring central fire so the wet stuff dries out - they put the fertile fuel rods around the outside of a working reactor core to soak up any spare neutrons and this gradually transmutes the fertile stuff into fissile stuff. The 'wet firewood' is drying out. After a year, a breeder reactor might have made a few percent more fuel than it uses in this way. (It's not a perpetual motion machine - but just accessing the uranium that's otherwise unused in the control rods.)

WASTE: Pyroprocessing also reduces the final high level waste (the broken atoms they call fission products) to about 10% the mass and makes it much 'hotter'. That's a good thing! Because the more radioactive something is, the faster it fizzles out. Estimates are you can melt this high level stuff down (vitrify it) into a ceramic tablet and store it under the reactor-park for about 300 years. Forget building multi-billion dollar storage caverns designed to last 200,000 years. This waste could be melted down and stored on site. Uranium goes in, and never comes out again. Or if it is cheaper to have a few big vitrifying plants, waste could be transported in those indestructible boxes with military guard.

Nuclear waste is not a problem - it is the SOLUTION to climate change and peak oil! The majority of what most people call 'nuclear waste' is fuel - and America has so much they could run their country for the next 1000 years on it alone. The final broken atoms they call 'fission products' only amount to 1 golf ball of waste per person lifetime - and no carbon. It's a thing of beauty. Here's a 4 minute Argonne labs video on it. ...

Re: THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Unread postPosted: Sat 26 Sep 2020, 08:26:44
by dissident
Right on target.

The clowns who attack reprocessing as a security risk are either idiots or paid shills. Even the notion that fast neutron reactors allow terrorists to get their hands on plutonium is total nonsense. It's not like the plutonium is sitting there in luggable chunks ready to be picked up. Terrorists can hardly engage in reprocessing themselves. This is not like making Sarin or some bombs in a basement. Reprocessing is a complex industrial process that many countries cannot deploy let alone terrorists. And the Plutonium is not accessible during the reprocessing operation also since it is mixed with other elements such as Uranium 238.

Terrorists getting their hands on nuclear warheads was a more plausible problem but they failed to do so even during the break up of the USSR and all the serious security problems it had in the 1990s.