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View Diary: Ready for This? Last Month 100% of New Electrical Capacity in the US came from Renewable Sources (187 comments)

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  •  Does this include the cost of storing the waste? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mrs M, orlbucfan

    I haven't seen anything that addresses the real cost of storing the waste for many thousands of years. And plans for dumping it somewhere "safe" haven't materialized yet.

    I hope that, during my lifetime, there will be a liberal president.

    by rantsposition on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 05:57:04 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  fast thorium reactors (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdknz, Odysseus

      largely will eat the majority of the waste and there's a lot of work being done in transmutation of radioactive substances.

      In the time that I have been given,
      I am what I am

      by duhban on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:19:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Paid for up front (0+ / 0-)

      The US government takes a cut off the top for each kWhr generated by nuclear power, about 0.1 cent as I remember, to cover the cost of dealing with fuel waste. That's garnered more than 30 billion dollars over the past forty years or so. The reasoning is that spent nuclear fuel is a strategic material that can't be left to the market to deal with. Other countries do the same sort of thing so the financial cost is actually covered, contrary to popular belief.

       Disposing of the waste from spent nuclear fuel is easy, it's just that there is so little of it around that constructing deep geological depositories hasn't really been pursued yet since there's no real hurry. Finland is one of the few places actually digging the tunnels required to store their waste at the Onkalo facility; the estimated cost is 800 million Euros and the Finnish nuclear waste fund already has 1.4 billion Euros in the bank from taxes on generating capacity so it's comfortably under budget. That facility is designed to cope with a hundred years of spent fuel before it is closed and backfilled.

       Other countries like France, Britain and Japan reprocess fuel rods to recycle the uranium and plutonium into new fuel. The resulting amount of dangerous waste from a typical reactor refuelling operation is less than a tonne and after vitrification (melting it into glass for stability) and jacketing it takes up less space than a medium-sized car would. Reprocessing costs a lot and it is uneconomic compared to simply making fresh fuel rods from mined uranium but the reduced volume of waste to be managed makes reprocessing viable. The US doesn't reprocess fuel for financial reasons; there was a moratorium against it under Carter for non-proliferation reasons but it was rescinded under Reagan. The result is that the US has a large volume of fuel rods to deal with. Note that the rods are less radioactive than concentrated waste from reprocessing and can be stored under less rigorous containment which does reduce the final cost.

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