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Since the beginning of the atomic age the nuclear industrial complex, first military then civilian, has said the same thing. They had no idea what to do with all the radioactive waste they had and would generate, but that someday they would know. Last month this uncomforting half truth (it is clear they do not know) was struck down in court and the US is now without what was called "the waste confidence decision."
In a sane world the implication would be obvious. Without a real and implementable plan for what to do with radioactive waste from nuclear energy and weapons production they need to stop making it, and begin decommissioning the reactors and the weapons. In case things go on as business as usual, prepare yourself to peaceably but forcefully remind them. Do not use your inside voices. Stand on the street if you have to and shout it to the rooftops. We cannot contaminate our planet with forever deadly waste that will poison our water, give people cancer, and rob our children and their children of a world they can live in. Nuclear waste is a ticking time bomb. Fukushima has, once again, shown that spent fuel is not spent at all. It is poorly contained in a nightmare trust fund of denial aimed at the future. An account that, like many others right now, is hemorrhaging badly. The law of averages would indicate we are reaching "last call" for the planet. Are you listening?
As for the editorial's embrace of Centeralized Interim Storage, it is not the safest option. The waste should be put in Hardened Onsite Storage (HOSS) at the reactors where it was made until there is a viable plan for permanent storage. Centeralized Interim Storage is just HOSS somewhere else, which puts every community on every transport route, and each "centeralized" location in danger. If States don't like keeping their radioactive waste around then, again, they should stop making it.
Editorial l NYTimes July 4, 2012
Lawmakers and policy planners must revive the search for safe ways to store used fuel rods from nuclear power reactors. The long-term solution favored by most experts, which we endorse, is to bury the material in geologically stable formations capable of preventing leakage far into the future.
But no politically acceptable site has yet been found, and leaving the used fuel rods at each reactor — more than 62,000 metric tons had accumulated across the country by the end of 2009 — seems increasingly problematic. At least nine states have banned the construction of new reactors until a permanent storage site is found or progress toward finding one is made. The only potential permanent storage site examined so far — at Yucca Mountain in Nevada — has been blocked for more than two decades by technical problems, legal challenges and political opposition from the state.
President Obama pledged in the 2008 campaign to shut down the project, and his Energy Department withdrew its application for a license before the safety of the project could be evaluated. Mitt Romney said in a primary debate in Nevada that the state’s people should have the final say. Even without a permanent disposal facility, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a “waste confidence decision” in 2010 that asserted that used fuel rods could be stored at power plants for 60 years after they close down. It also asserted that a permanent repository would be ready to handle such wastes “when necessary.”