Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Blue Ribbon Commission and the Nuclear Bloggers

Today, at ANS Nuclear Cafe, Dan Yurman has put together a Blue Ribbon Panel of Nuclear Bloggers.

In the post Advice to the Blue Ribbon Commission, eleven bloggers give advice to the Blue Ribbon Commission formed by President Obama. If you remember, President Obama traded "closing Yucca Mountain" to Nevada Senator Henry Reid in return for Reid's support in the Senate.

Canceling the Yucca Mountain repository was probably great for Obama in the Senate, but when the utilities saw that there was no plan for the government to remove spent fuel (and the utilities had paid the government billions of dollars to do exactly that), they began suing the government for their money back.

The obvious answer was to appoint a commission to study the matter. Obama did so.

The Commission decided the matter needed even more study.

In the post at ANS Nuclear Cafe, the Nuclear Bloggers (I am one of them) give the Commission some honest and pithy advice. After all, fuel recycling is a known technology. Other geological repositories for high-level materials are operational. All the Blue Ribbon Commission had to do was make a decision.

Of course, they didn't.


Cyril R said...

Per Peterson was on the comission so I had high hopes of recommendations on advanced processing upscaling (its already developed at lab scale!). But I guess one engineer on the comission is too little...

I agree that dry storage above ground in modular facilities is excellent. To make it serious and remove the "kicking the can down the road" critiques, I'd suggest an ultimatum: give us say 50 years to develop the processing required, giving a high probability of succes in developing advanced processing, and even if it doesn't work at that time then we'll use a permanent repository.

With such a hard deadline in the plan people can agree with it. Permanent repositories require low heat generation anyway so can only take in old fuel.

Wayne SW said...

Did you really expect anything different? Appointing a "Commission" serves only two purposes: provide political cover, and avoid making a decision. They aren't appointed to learn anything new, because they never do. The information is already out there. This is just political cowardice (something I expect from the current Administration) and adding yet more delays to the process.

The difference this time is that by unilaterally cancelling Yucca Mountain for political payback, federal law has been violated. Doing such would put any ordinary person behind bars, but not the political Overlords. No one has the guts to call it was it is: criminal, and impeachable.