The other side of the mountain

Lawsuit could be starting place to reclaim nuclear waste site

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We remain skeptical that the courts will step in to save Yucca Mountain -- and, by extension, the Central Savannah River Area.

But one can hope.

Aiken County and others want the courts to overrule the Obama administration's decision to end the Yucca Mountain, Nev., plan for nuclear waste disposal. A hearing is now set for March 22 before a Washington, D.C., appeals court.

As a matter of principle, it's important that the courts give great deference to the other two branches of government to set -- or reset -- national policy. Most judges undoubtedly feel the same.

But the lawsuit by Aiken County, South Carolina and others is bolstered by a decision of the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board last June that the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in ending the Yucca Mountain project.

The board wrote that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 "does not give (the Secretary of Energy) the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress ..."

Therein lies our opportunity: if the courts rule that the Executive Branch -- the Obama administration -- is usurping the power of the Legislative Branch -- the Congress -- to set the nation's nuclear policy.

Pray it works. Otherwise, the nearby Savannah River Site, and every other nuclear waste-producing facility around the country, will likely become a permanent nuclear waste dump, with all the hazards that suggests.

No one here signed up for that, particularly Congress. Nor has it been established -- and we doubt it ever would -- that SRS and the CSRA is a location suitable to permanent storage of radioactive waste. It hasn't been scientifically sold or politically vetted. Consider the population centers in the Southeast, including your favorite city by the Savannah. Consider the geology. Consider the surrounding ecosystem.

Then consider the fact that the Yucca Mountain site was, as the Atomic Safety & Licensing Board noted, "two decades in the making and undergirded by millions of pages of studies, reports, and related materials at a reported cost of over $10 billion."

That bears repeating: "millions of pages of studies, reports, and related materials."

In one arrogant fell swoop, the Obama administration threw out all that science, all that study, all that investment. It is now searching for a Plan B.

Well, if they think Plan B is to make the greater Augusta area a nuclear waste repository, they've got another thing coming.

This is not the first time the Obama administration has overstepped its bounds in policy-making. It has established a number of unaccountable czars, unconfirmed by the Senate and virtually unknown to the public. It tried, until word got out, to insert end-of-life counseling into new Medicare rules, when Congress explicitly left that out of the health-care bill. And it has attempted to begin regulating all carbon emissions, a la the administration's "cap and trade" bill that has thus far failed in Congress.

The administration has done all this and more with the negligent acquiescence of a lapdog Democratic Congress. But members of Congress have given away what was never theirs to give.

If the separate powers doctrine enumerated by the Constitution is to mean anything again, perhaps this lawsuit is a good place to start.

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NewHere
0
Points
NewHere 01/17/11 - 06:48 am
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0
We need to reclycle fuel, and

We need to reclycle fuel, and yucca mountain!

Billyds999
17
Points
Billyds999 01/17/11 - 07:18 am
0
0
Don't forget that we've been

Don't forget that we've been paying for Yucca Mountain two ways; our taxes, and our power bill. Utilities (Plant Vogtle, etc.,) have been required to put billions of dollars in as well for their "stuff" to be able to be stored there.

Riverman1
94247
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Riverman1 01/17/11 - 07:55 am
0
0
I hope it's not the CSRA that

I hope it's not the CSRA that has another THINK coming. It's possible we could end up being the "temporary permanent" storage facility for all the commercial waste generated around the country.

Let's hope our new Congress can get behind the plan to open Yucca. It's a good time to do it as punishishment for Nevada reelecting Harry Reid. But, seriously, the best scientists did billions of dollars of studies over decades to determine this mountain in the remote desert was the best place. Let's do it and save the CSRA for the next million years.

carcraft
28588
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carcraft 01/17/11 - 07:59 am
0
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Welll Obama was going to

Welll Obama was going to close GITMO in one year with out any study. The Obama Administration lied about a science review to support the off shore drilling ban..Why would anybody expect anthing else from Obama. Science who needs science being the smartest man in the room Obama just understands things scientists, engineers etc just don't understand!

SCEagle Eye
959
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SCEagle Eye 01/17/11 - 08:08 am
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Reprocessing would mean the

Reprocessing would mean the nation's spent fuel would be brought to SRS, where it would be turned into a liquid, creating a host of waste streams that would be dumped. Only a tiny percent could possibly be reused, in reactors that don't exists, but special interests insist on using incorrect language and call it "recycling." Those who call it "recycling" - please explain how all the high-level radioactive, low-level radioactive waste, contaminated uranium and noble gas discharges are "recycled."

Rather
56
Points
Rather 01/17/11 - 08:19 am
0
0
Billyds999 - You are right.

Billyds999 - You are right. However, all the money the utilities have deposited in the "Nuclear Repository Fund"? Guess what the Democratically controlled Congress has done with it? Just like our Social Security fund. It has been spent and all left is an IOU, and where is the money going to come from to repay it? There isn't any. All utilities should refuse to pay anymore into this fund until Yucca Mountain or some other entity is operational. But, good luck, this has just been another rip-off by the Feds including both parties.

old49er
1
Points
old49er 01/17/11 - 08:30 am
0
0
Obama and his cronies threw

Obama and his cronies threw away over 10 billion in taxpayer money, as well as valuable time needed to develop a repository for this very toxic waste, in order to promote the re-election of his senate lap dog, Harry Reid. Come 2012, Obama will have to run on his record, instead of parroting the same old tired, blame Bush rhetoric that he has been doing for almost 2 years.

Sideshow Bob
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Sideshow Bob 01/17/11 - 09:32 am
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SCEagle Eye....with all due

SCEagle Eye....with all due respect, you have NO idea what you are talking about. Recycled fuel has a like of customers waiting to use it. TVA is already using recycled fuel. There is a GREAT DEAL of usable fuel in a reactor when it loses its ability to go critical due to poison buildup and reduced neutron flux. And liquid waste is not "dumped" anywhere.

dichotomy
37619
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dichotomy 01/17/11 - 09:35 am
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If we do not open Yucca Mt.

If we do not open Yucca Mt. then there should never be another dollar, private or taxpayer, spent on useless environmental studies, impact statements, etc. There should never be another dollar spent by the government on any study. The best minds and all of the research said Yucca was the place to build the facility. We built it and paid for it. Whatever risk, if any, there is at Yucca it in no way comes up to the level of risk of leaving all of this nuclear waste laying around at numerous sites all around the country with varying levels of maintenance and security. If someone comes up with a better answer down the road we can build it and move it from Yucca to the new place but for now Yucca is the only answer and it is built and paid for and we are still paying to maintain it. The Obama administration's decision had nothing to do with the science. It was all about caving in to the wishes of left wing political supporters.

Rhetor
1082
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Rhetor 01/17/11 - 09:52 am
0
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I tend to support the

I tend to support the development of Yucca Mountain. Nevertheless, I question the tone of this editorial. "Lapdog?" "Arrogant?" "Negligent?" All because you have a different opinion? If the last week has made anything clear, it is that the American public, which consists mostly of very decent people, is getting fed up with this kind of angry, overheated talk. Please stick to the issues which, in this case, are actually quite complex and subject to different interpretations by reasonable people. I urge the ACES to set an example of civil discourse. Thank you.

follower
98
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follower 01/17/11 - 10:13 am
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Rhetor, that is a post I can

Rhetor, that is a post I can agree with on all points. Good job.

Rather
56
Points
Rather 01/17/11 - 10:17 am
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Recycling nuclear waste does

Recycling nuclear waste does not eliminate the waste; it simply reforms the waste so it can be stored safely. As an example at SRS, one process is to encapsulate the waste in glass. Then, the capsules can be stored in waste canisters safely for long term storage even if groundwater should leak inside. A friend of mine, a nuclear engineer, told me that calculations had been made of all of the nuclear waste envisioned at Yucca Mountain as to the amount of energy it entailed. If it could have all been used, it would have produced electricity for the entire United States for a thousand years. However, probably more realistically this would be more likely 100 to 200 years. Of importance, is the fact that the Yucca Mountain design not only allowed the insertion of the nuclear waste canisters into the tunnels, but that they could safely be removed at a later time. Removal would obviously be to make use of this stored energy. A country that has electricity in a few years could be a wealthy one, otherwise not.

Yucca Mountain was not haphazardly selected as some kind of dumping ground. It was selected because it was the best site available in the United States. Such considerations as, seismic activity, location groundwater table, and most importantly the ability to safeguard the site from terrorist activity, and others, were factors. Getting all of the nuclear waste in the United States in one safeguarded location is extremely important from terrorist standpoint.

It would be a disaster if the CSRA would to become a "temporary permanent" storage facility for all the commercial waste generated around the country. We cannot trust the Government no matter what promises they make and such storage would be surely become permanent. You may remember about six years ago the governor of South Carolina protesting against the company of nuclear waste at SRS being shipped in from Russia. He lay down on the freeway to prevent trucks coming into the state. In the discussions and negotiations that followed, the government promised to have a permanent waste depository (like Yucca Mountain) available to take her nuclear waste by the year 2010. Otherwise, South Carolina would receive $1 million a day. What happened to the waste repository, Yucca Mountain, and the million dollars a day? The groundwater table in the CSRA is too high for us to be a viable permanent waste repository.

Reprocessing of spent fuel, or processing of nuclear waste, does not produce a liquid that is dumped into waste streams, etc. in fact, the main goal in such processing is to prevent that from happening.

And, yes, the CSRA (SRS) would be a viable location for such reprocessing. I would encourage this so long as we could be guaranteed that the resulting nuclear waste would be shipped to a permanent facility such as Yucca Mountain.

Sideshow Bob
0
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Sideshow Bob 01/17/11 - 10:26 am
0
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Recycling nuclear fuel is

Recycling nuclear fuel is where you take the usable u-235 and Pu-239 from the fuel and blend it back into fuel rods. It is NOT a form of processing for disposal. That is a different process. Once it is fissioned in a reactor, it can never be used for an atomic weapon. Any other method of disposal leaves the fissile material at least partially vulnerable to theft and reuse.

Sideshow Bob
0
Points
Sideshow Bob 01/17/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
Why would it be a disaster if

Why would it be a disaster if the CSRA would to become a "temporary permanent" storage facility for all the commercial waste generated around the country? Just curious.

Rather
56
Points
Rather 01/17/11 - 10:45 am
0
0
Sideshow Bob - The

Sideshow Bob - The groundwater level is too high. It could then leach into the waste canisters and then get into the underground streams, etc. Also, the CSRA is not rock where the tunnels could be bored. Permanent waste could not safely be stored here. And, we cannot trust the U.S. Govt. Just look at Nevada, with all the billions of dollars spent and over 20 years of effort with Yucca Mountain this idiot, clod-hopping president, in order to appease Harry Reid, cancels it. But, Sideshow Bob, it could be used to make a "dirty" bomb.

Sideshow Bob
0
Points
Sideshow Bob 01/17/11 - 10:52 am
0
0
Rather....never said bury it

Rather....never said bury it here. Do you have any idea how much waste and fuel has been safely stored here over the last 50 years?

And as far as a dirty bomb goes....the amount required to do any real damage would kill the builder before he had a chance to use it, not to mention that unprocessed fuel can be used to make a dirty bomb as well...so no new problem is created.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/17/11 - 10:53 am
0
0
I have no faith that the

I have no faith that the obama administration will do the right thing. Obama is incompetent and he is in over his head.

The Chinese are coming here to meet with the community organizer on Wednesday. That is a scary thought. I don't see that meeting going well for the USA citizens at all. It will be a good meeting for the Chinese and for the liberal "elite" politicians though. I'm sure they will get a good briefing in the successful operation of "state capitalism". They might even come out with ownership of the Pentagon building or the White House.

Rather
56
Points
Rather 01/17/11 - 11:12 am
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0
Sideshow - Yes, a whole lot

Sideshow - Yes, a whole lot of waste and stored fuel has been stored here. But, "safely", is a word used because it has not had to survive a determined terrorist attack. We are talking about the word,"permanent" here. That waste and stored fuel you are discussing was never intended for anything other than "temporary" storage. We are talking about up to "thousands" of years here. It ALL could be used to make a dirty bomb. Even a little bit of radioactive materialwould get the Mountain Fairy's hopping around real nicely costing millions of dollars.

Riverman1
94247
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Riverman1 01/17/11 - 11:16 am
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SideShowBob said: "SCEagle

SideShowBob said: "SCEagle Eye....with all due respect, you have NO idea what you are talking about. Recycled fuel has a like of customers waiting to use it. TVA is already using recycled fuel. There is a GREAT DEAL of usable fuel in a reactor when it loses its ability to go critical due to poison buildup and reduced neutron flux. And liquid waste is not "dumped" anywhere."

I don't think that's accurate. Duke Power was going to use the MOX fuel under pressure from the government, but they've backed out after problems in France using the technique were found. Do you know of any commercial concern who says they will use it? But I think the government should MAKE commercial reactors use the stuff.

mable8
2
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mable8 01/17/11 - 12:32 pm
0
0
Since when does ANY agency

Since when does ANY agency get to use policy as law? Only Congress is empowered to create laws; agencies may make policies, but they are not law. However, with the imposter (he admitted he was NOT born in the US, but in Kenya during a town hall meeting while campaigning. He also said his place of birth did not matter) in the White House, who has no respect for the American people or the US Constitution (he, himself, stated he wanted to dismantle the Constitution in January 2008), it is hardly surprising that this imposter would go into a frenzied power grab. It is clearly obvious that this imposter wants to be the last "elected" President and our first dictator. Enough is enough--IMPEACH THE IMPOSTER.

Sideshow Bob
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Sideshow Bob 01/17/11 - 12:44 pm
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It is 100% accurate.

It is 100% accurate. riverman. H-Canyon has been very successful in blending HEU with natural U and sending it to TVA. I wasn't speaking of MOX which is to blend warhead Pu into fuel.

TVA is burning fuel that was produced at SRS at this very time.

effete elitist liberal
3191
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effete elitist liberal 01/17/11 - 01:13 pm
0
0
Another day in the funny

Another day in the funny papers with Michael ("one fell swoop") Ryan!
Today it's the Obama administration's "arrogant" disregard for separation of powers (Remember the Bush signing statements anyone?) for the DOE's decision to end the Zucca Mountain Project. But remember, the original act of congress was to build two sites, one in the west and the other in the east. Only the Nevada site ever got off the ground. So now let's imagine the Obama administration decides tomorrow to pursue the eastern site and wants to put it in, oh say, South Carolina at SRS. I can see Ryan's editorial now: "Obama has arrogantly abandoned the sacred principle of federalism! With complete disregard for the express desires of South Carolina that it doesn't want an atomic waste disposal plant, Obama will ram it down our throats!" Folks, this is a classic NIMBY case.
The AC is happy with a dangerous plant in Nevada simply because it's not in Georgia or South Carolina! If you do any reading on this topic, you will learn that Nevadans don't want the darned plant either! It was basically rammed down their throats because they didn't have the political clout to fight back. With Harry Reid, they do! Sorry Michael, unless the courts step in, the Republican south will lose this little game of political hardball. Elections do indeed matter!

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 01/17/11 - 01:54 pm
0
0
When I grow up, I want to be
Unpublished

When I grow up, I want to be just like obama: unaccountable to Americans and not having to worry about the NAACP or ACLU.

carcraft
28588
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carcraft 01/17/11 - 04:09 pm
0
0
EEL- So it is OK for Obama

EEL- So it is OK for Obama and his administration to lie to the people, and back off the promise after taking money form South Carolina? OH well Obama's lied agbout a lot more LOL

NewHere
0
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NewHere 01/17/11 - 08:48 pm
0
0
96% of the used fuel is

96% of the used fuel is recyclable and is currently done in France, for those that don't want it done in SC, why would the people in Nevada need to accept the used fuel for all 104 units btw none of them located in nevada

skeptic griggsy
39
Points
skeptic griggsy 01/18/11 - 12:05 am
0
0
mabel8, Pres. Barack Hussein
Unpublished

mabel8, Pres. Barack Hussein Obama did not admit to being born in Kenya- just another wing-nut lie.
Please folks, stick to discussing the merits of Yucca Mountain and SRS as nuclear waste sites.
I don't know, resting in my Socratic ignorance.
Both the NAACP and the ACLU fight for libery, and that's why I'm a member of the ACLU, a card-carrying one.
Media Matters is magnificent and so are Fact Check and Politi-Facts.

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/18/11 - 10:06 pm
0
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"Media Matters is magnificent

"Media Matters is magnificent and so are Fact Check and Politi-Facts."

Too bad you didn't check that before Hamilton-Jefferson.

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/18/11 - 10:15 pm
0
0
Liberalism achieves the exact

Liberalism achieves the exact opposite of its stated intent.

They will stop plans to put waste in a perfectly engineered, perfectly safe repository and instead leave it scattered across the US in temporary sites.

I enjoyed reading the posts from some very smart people here. I'm pretty well satified there won't be a high level accident or contamination, but.

You know how fearful the general public is about nuclear radiation and how the media can hype any situation out of proportion. Hmm, a recent shooting comes to mind.

Anyhow, Americans screwed by the govt again. If only we could get things right the first time rather than having to go back and undo it all...over and over....

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