Fukushima Aftermath/Section Four

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Even before the Fukushima crisis, the nuclear waste storage issue had been gaining steam. "We haven't found a solution for the 100 nuclear power plants operating," said Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "And waste is building up on-site, with no solution."[1] [2] During Housae budget hearings in July, the financial ramifications of the thwarted Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository had already begun generating political heat for the administration.[3] South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, said the president's decision was "spectacularly misguided, and breaks a promise" made "decades ago" by the federal government to handle the waste.

Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended[edit | edit source]

This Act establishes both the Federal government’s responsibility to provide a place for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and the generators’ responsibility to bear the costs of permanent disposal. Amendments to the Act have focused the Federal government's efforts, through the Department of Energy, on studying a possible site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. If the Department and the President recommend to the Congress that a permanent repository be built there, and if the recommendation survives the special procedures that the Act establishes for Congressional review of the recommendation, the Department will apply to the NRC for authorization to construct the repository. The Act provides for extensive State, Tribal, and public participation in the planning and development of permanent repositories.

Obama[edit | edit source]

Shortly before Fukushima, Obama had come under heat as politicians from states which anticipated utilizing Yucca Mountain [4] and others accused him of a "Chicago-style" political ploy to help Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, where opposition to Yucca Mountain is entrenched. The dispute has spawned online satirical videos[5] and warring animations [6] However, Reid brushed aside such remarks with the contention that transport to a central site increases risks. "Leave it on-site where it is," he said last year. "You don't have to worry about transporting it. Saves the country billions and billions of dollars[7] On May 24, 2011, the Institute for Policy Studies came out with a new report ranking various spent fuel sites and contending that spent nuclear reactor fuel needs to be moved en masse into safer dry cask storage rather than the current liquid pool system.[8] Earlier in the month, the Union of Concerned Scientists had, in testimony before Congress, pointed out that there were dry cask nuclear waste storage units at Fukushima which had survived the earthquake and the tsunami, and that the problems were confined to the storage pools.

"Virtually nothing has been reported about the fuel stored in dry casks at Fukushima Dai-Ichi. It experienced the earthquake. It experienced the tsunami. It experienced the prolonged power outage. It did not overheat. It was not damaged. It did not produce hydrogen that later exploded. It did not cause the evacuation of a single member of the public. It did not cause a single worker to receive radiation over-exposure."

References[edit | edit source]