Waste Disposal Core of Nuclear Power Shutdowns Lack of Temporary and Permanent Federal Storage Sites Hinders Dismantling Process

By Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 17, 1991 | Go to article overview

Waste Disposal Core of Nuclear Power Shutdowns Lack of Temporary and Permanent Federal Storage Sites Hinders Dismantling Process


Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE catch phrase of the 1970s, "Try it, you'll like it," is proving costly for those who tried nuclear power and didn't.

Of the 13 nuclear power plants halted in the United States since 1963, none has completed the lengthy decontamination and dismantling process known formally as "decommissioning."

Of these plants, officials at the four largest - Three-Mile Island in Middleton, Pa.; Fort St. Vrain in Colorado; Shoreham in Suffolk County, N.Y.; and Rancho Seco in 1989 - estimate the cost of the shutdowns will range from $200 million to $320 million and the process will take decades. The facilities are closing due to safety and cost concerns.

"When you shut down a nuclear power reactor, you can't just turn off the lights and go home," notes Peter Erickson, senior project manager for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Besides monitoring the cooling of spent fuel in on-site water pools (there are still no temporary or permanent federal storage sites), most facility licensees elect to wait 30 to 50 years for the most radioactive elements in pipes, floors, and walls to decay. This reduces the danger of exposure to radiation for workers dismantling the plants.

Only then will the physical plant be demolished or converted to other uses.

For the shareholders of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), their Rancho Seco nuclear power plant here is the latest case-in-point. Twenty-five miles south of the state capital, Rancho Seco is the first major nuclear reactor to be closed by public referendum. Though power generation was stopped the day after a public vote in June 1989, the plant is still in the final phase of a preliminary closure process. Early next year, it will enter formal decommissioning.

In 1963, a General Electric plant in Alameda, Calif., was the first reactor to be decommissioned. The shutdown process is still ongoing. No fuel is on site, but the physical plant is being monitored for levels of radioactivity in pipes, walls, and valves to allow a significant reduction in radiation levels before dismantling.

The nuclear waste produced during 14 years of operation at Rancho Seco is enough to fill about 25 train boxcars. While it is kept cool in a water pool here, the Department of Energy (DOE) is considering a national repository for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Even if the decade-long study process there shows the site capable of isolating nuclear waste safely for the necessary 10,000 years, the site would not be ready until 2010.

Meanwhile, the 200-plus maintenance, security, and emergency personnel on-site here will cost SMUD nearly $320 million by the plant's license expiration in 2008.

For the short-term, federal nuclear-waste negotiator David Leroy is negotiating sites of temporary storage known as monitored retrievable sites in various states.

"If such a temporary site is located and approved by 1998, our waste would go there," says SMUD's Jim Shetler. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Waste Disposal Core of Nuclear Power Shutdowns Lack of Temporary and Permanent Federal Storage Sites Hinders Dismantling Process
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.