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What's Going On With Yucca Mountain
What's Going On With Yucca Mountain

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AIR DATE: September 3, 2010

In 1987, the U.S. government named Yucca Mountain as the central spot to deposit the nation's nuclear waste. The Department of Energy (DOE) and Congress eventually signed off on it, and Yucca Mountain was up and running. But opponents always rallied against it, citing safety concerns and improper political influences. Then in January, President Obama said to shut Yucca Mountain down. The DOE tried to withdraw its application to license Yucca for storage, but a Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that it couldn't do that. So where do we stand with Yucca now? Where will all that waste go? Should it be reprocessed instead at Yucca, as some politicians say? Is the real issue about safety, waste storage, or politics? And what will happen to all the Yucca employees who are suddenly out of a job?

GUESTS
Bruce Breslow, Exec Dir, Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects
Roger Henning, Former Sr Principal Hydrogeologist and Onsite Technical Mgr, Nuclear and Regulatory Support Svcs, Yucca Mountain
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    COMMENTS:
    A few clarifications if I may. First, reprocessing technology exists - the French have been doing it for decades. Second, on-site storage of spent fuel has been determined to be safe by the federal agency that has that responsibility.
    Len SkoblarAug 18, 2010 02:07:13 AM
    During the program, Mr. Breslow said we should reprocess the waste at Hanford and Savannah River. He should already know that the waste there is the leftover material from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel used in the production of nuclear weapons. It is just awaiting disposal.
    Jeff RymanAug 9, 2010 21:13:23 PM
    Anita, If you are concerned about earthquakes, read the license application. Yucca Mountain is in an area with less earthquakes than in almost in any direction. The block where the waste was intended to be stored is between faults, not on a fault line like reported by Shelley Berkley and Cathrine Masto. Even then, there is question whether the block bounding faults have be active in the last 10,000 yrs. The magnitude is also low compared to other areas such as the continental margins in California, Oregon, and Washington State. In addition, underground structures are almost untouched by earthquakes. The tunnels move with the earth. The only issue is that the casks may fall off the structures holding them off the floor. Even then, the canisters are over an inch thick of the most resistant metal we can find. The risk is minimal compared to many parts of the country, even New York City. The earthquakes there are few and weak, but they can be of high magnitude. The problem with much of the East Coast and mid continent is we have only been here for a few hundred years and reoccurance intervals for major earthquakes can be in the thousands to tens of thousands of years
    Roger HenningAug 9, 2010 16:51:45 PM
    Too bad YMP is so political.Politics has failed common sense too many times.YMP is in an earthquake region. Earthquakes move and crush rock. How safe is concrete? Water moves when Mother Earth moves.Burn it up where it is mfg. re-use it like France does.America has options. Use money where it works!
    AnitaAug 9, 2010 11:01:29 AM
    Yucca is in an earthquake region. Earthquakes move and crush rock. How safe is concrete? Earthquakes also can send water from Mother Earth. It is a shame that YMP is so political. Politics has failed common sense too many times. Burn up the waste where is is mfg. Re-use it as France does. We in America have options. Spend money where it works.
    AnitaAug 9, 2010 10:51:39 AM
    Don't gloss over 200+ scientific contentions still to be addressed, and cask design is still inadequate. Nuclear technol is inherently unsafe and unsolvable; they all need to stop, not be expanded. Work like this, and military endeavors also must never be treated as jobs programs. If they're wrong, they should be stopped. It was good to hear on the program mention of the link between commercial and military nuclear programs. They aren't really separate.
    Jim HaberAug 9, 2010 10:14:29 AM
    I have been following this issue for a long time and I am now watching the deliberations of the Blue Ribbon Commission. One of the issues they believe is most important is that any future repository program have a willing host and that the citizens give informed consent. I agree.
    Judy TreichelAug 9, 2010 10:02:51 AM
    I was laid off from the project last month....Roger Henning is absolutely right and Burce Breslow is a former TV talking head....he knows about as much about the science as the Obamination does. The state did file 250+ contentions; they were absolute jokes without scientific merit. I worked on the responses to many of them. The NRC lawyers were lazy and rather than dismiss them without merit simply accepted almost all of them and decided that they could be argued later in the NRC Courts. Otherwise, the state has no good reason for dismissing the Yucca project except that Harry Reid got his payback from the Obamination. Simple as that. This came to surface when the NRC's court (the ASLB) ruled that the DOE had no legal basis for pulling the license. Now that Harry's boy is head of the NRC, expect the same politics to worm its way into the supposedly apolitical NRC process. I and many of my former porject co-workers are on our way to other states and jobs; we're sick of Harry and the Obamination. You Nevadans left can have him. Good luck...
    former yuccaemployeeAug 9, 2010 09:34:54 AM
    Poor Nevada. Unable to make lemonade when given the opportunity. This state should have negotiated for benefits right from the start. As an example folks should review Carlsbad, NM and that communities Renaissance into the vibrant community that it is today. I as a NV resident resent my tax dollars going to build the YMP, going to fight the construction of the YMP and now will go to pay out the lawsuits because the Federal Govt. has not met its obligations. My guess is that NV would still be a national leader in employment had the politico not made this their campaign issue. And America would still have a nuclear industry instead of the brain-drain of scientist who have left to other countries who have embraced this technology.
    Cheryl BeemanAug 9, 2010 09:31:45 AM
    How big of an economic impact in the Yucca Shut down will be there on Summerlin? (At least 200 million dollars a year.)
    Randy EashAug 9, 2010 09:21:09 AM
    Ask Bruce Breslow -- If we don't burry Nuclear Waste at Yucca Mountain, what do we do with it?
    Randy EashAug 9, 2010 09:13:39 AM
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