Friday, April 16, 2010

Nuclear Dreams

Nuclear power has been getting renewed interest lately as a carbon-free source of energy. I agree that a nuke plant will (or should) produce energy without any atmospheric emissions. If you're worried about global warming and the greenhouse effects of carbon dioxide, then nuclear power should look pretty attractive.

I have some experience in dealing with spent nuclear fuel. It is some seriously radioactive stuff. It has to be handled and transported in big, expensive, and heavily shielded containers. It is commonly stored in large pools of water, for both shielding and cooling purposes. I don't believe that nuclear power will ever be implemented on a large scale in the United States because no political agreement can be reached on how to deal with the spent fuel.

The last best hope of the nuclear industry was going to be the storage facility under Yucca Mountain. That facility, which would concentrate the nation's spent nuclear fuel in one safe location rather than distributed across the country, was all but abandoned after environmental impact statements could only guarantee that there would be no leaks for 10,000 years. Instead, we end up with fuel stored in distributed pools that have a much higher chance of leakage.

Dreams of a nuclear future will remain nothing more than dreams until somebody solves the problem of spent fuel storage.

1 comment:

日月神教-任我行 said...
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