Thursday evening, I attended a presentation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on a proposed ESP - Early Site Permit - for a new commercial reactor at Southern Company 's Plant Vogtle in Burke Co, GA. Here are a few of the interesting tidbits I learned:
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (VP Cheney's Frankenstein) awarded more than $14 billion in taxpayers' dollars for public/private investment in 16 new nuclear power reactors to be on-line in a decade despite the fact that no federal nuclear waste repository has been successfully completed. The high level federal dump, Yucca Mountain, after 20 years and $8 billion is no where near completion. In fact, three DOE scientists are under investigation for falsifying water infiltration and climate data, crucial factors in determining its overall safety. Every reactor creates between 20 - 30 tons of high-level nuclear waste annually.
A majority of the existing waste remains on the reactor site where it was produced in temporary containment facilities with a 30-year shelf life. (To give you a time frame on the age of some of this waste there hasn 't been a nuclear reactor built in the US in nearly 30 years) In many instances, the time for permanent transfer and containment of this waste has passed, and these sites are no longer compliant with the original license with which they were allowed to open and operate. In lieu, the government has granted extensions because the federal repository started over 20 years ago is no where near completion. The sites housing this nuclear waste are ticking time bombs with more than 100,000 tons of waste from the first generation of reactors.
For more information on this issue and others regarding the 'new' nuclear age, contact:
Nuclear Information and Resource Service - Mary Olson, Director, NIRS Southeast
I had an opportunity to speak with both these individuals at the presentation. They are well informed and fair.