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Thread: Blue ribbon panel on nuclear waste

  1. #1 Blue ribbon panel on nuclear waste 
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    How do you start a scientific investigation by ruling out one of the possible conclusions? It disgusts me, really.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/federal-pan...-83143397.html

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the commission will have a free hand to examine a "full range of scientific and technical options" on waste storage, reprocessing and disposal, with one exception: the once-favored Yucca Mountain underground repository.

    Talking with reporters, Chu and chief White House energy adviser Carol Browner made it clear that the Nevada site, which had been the government's sole focus for more than 20 years, is off the table.

    "The debate over Yucca Mountain is over, as the president has made clear many times," said Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.


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    Isn't it more of an exploration for other options? Why is that a problem?


    "Hey guys... Let us take as a given that we won't be using Yucca. What else can we do?"


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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Isn't it more of an exploration for other options? Why is that a problem?


    "Hey guys... Let us take as a given that we won't be using Yucca. What else can we do?"
    It is a problem because they have already decided that the other options are better than Yucca Mountain, without knowing anything about them. Wouldn't you expect that one of their conclusions should be "We have (or have not) found a better option than YM?" They are not even allowed to make that determination.
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    I can understand the logic of what you're saying, but my interpretation is somewhat different. You seem to be acting as if we don't know anything about Yucco. I see it as a known quantity. We know what it costs. We know the benefits. We know the down-sides. We know the public perception. We know the risks... etc.

    There's no reason we can't come back to it and say, "You know... it turns out we were wrong. Upon investigation, that really is the best site."


    Right now, however, I think we're considering it not to be plausible so the proper focus is placed on other options. You work a lot harder to find and build a safety net when you don't go into it thinking you already have a fall-back option.

    That's just my two cents, anyway. Since neither of us were in the discussions the president had, we can't say for certain what the context of the comments was. We are left to go on little more than the report you linked, and my experience is that news stories tend far too often to be short on detail and long on spin. Cheers, Harold.
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    That quote from Browner makes it clear that the Obama administration is imposing a political restriction on what should be a science based inquiry. So much for that campaign promise. If they are so sure YM is a bad idea, then the blue ribbon panel should be able to quickly eliminate it. Why bother to take it off the table beforehand?

    Fall-back option? We've already cancelled Yucca Mtn without a fall-back option.
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    Sounds to me like you just want to be mad that Yucca is off the table. That's fine. Do you have a financial interest in using Yucca to store nuclear waste?


    Here is a statement establishing the Blue Ribbon Commission:
    http://www.energy.gov/news/documents...uture_memo.pdf


    Here is a statement from the administration which kills the Yucca proposal:
    http://reid.senate.gov/issues/upload...he-Website.pdf


    And below details from the Senate Majority Leader on why that happened:

    http://reid.senate.gov/issues/yucca.cfm
    In 1982, the United States Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act instructing the DOE to identify possible sites to build and operate an underground disposal facility for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. In 1984 the DOE chose ten sites to study as potential locations, but after only three years, Congress prematurely instructed the DOE to study only Yucca Mountain. In 2002, Congress recklessly approved President Bush’s decision that Yucca Mountain was suitable for nuclear waste.

    In 2008, the DOE announced that it was raising Yucca Mountain’s estimated price tag from $57.5 billion to over $96 billion. Beyond its bloated budget, the Yucca Mountain project faced a laundry list of scientific, technical, public health, legal, and safety problems. The skyrocketing price tag, the steadfast opposition of Nevadans and their congressional delegation, and the growing understanding that Yucca was a mortally flawed proposal have led to the project’s demise.

    The time is long overdue for America to find a new approach for solving the nation’s nuclear waste problem.

    There are some nice links (in the "For Students" section) at the last link above which allow for further exploration. I really don't care either way. Nuclear is but a small part of a very large puzzle, and it suffers from profoundly huge start-up costs and times (like a decade to get a single facility up and running, which is ridiculous when you can get tens of thousands of square miles of solar up in 9 months), but current nuclear tech is overall very safe (with things like pebble-bed technology) and I'm glad to see that we're looking for viable options for waste treatment and processing. It's just that Yucca has been determined not one of those viable solutions. So what? I say again, it's hardly some unknown quantity they're refusing to explore. They know what it is, and decided it's not a good way to go.

    Oh well. I've got more important things to worry about... like what to make for dinner tonight. :-D



    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/02...a-p-76078.html
    "The administration is right in recognizing that the Yucca Mountain Project represents a failed approach to the disposal of high level nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel -- the third such failure in the past 50 years," said Tom Cochran, senior scientist for the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement last week.

    "To avoid the mistakes of the past, the Blue Ribbon Commission will need to identify more effective, open and transparent processes for selecting new candidate geological repository sites and licensing criteria that protect the health and the environment of future generations," Cochran said.

    Chu expressed his hopes yesterday that the commission can succeed. "I deeply believe that the waste material, the spent fuel materials, these are solvable problems. They are solvable scientifically. And quite frankly -- call me wildly optimistic -- I think they're solvable politically."
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Sounds to me like you just want to be mad that Yucca is off the table. That's fine. Do you have a financial interest in using Yucca to store nuclear waste?
    Yes, as a taxpayer.
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    I suspected you would reply that way. I am curious, though. I am also a tax payer, and my preference is not to follow badly spent money with more badly spent money.

    Would I be correct in assuming... based on your responses and tone in this thread... that you'd rather keep spending money on Yucca despite its obvious flaws and limitations, and despite the fact that it's significantly gone over it's already bloated budget by twice the original estimate (and shows no signs that these cost overages will cease any time soon)... instead of cutting our losses and using future monies to find and implement a better alternative?

    I too am frustrated that so much has been spent on it already, and I'm pissed off that such bad decisions were made in the past. However, I would not be willing to keep throwing money at a problem we know is not going to adequately meet our needs just because "we've spent so much on it already."

    I'm just trying to see where you land with this. I am genuinely curious.

    I think it sucks that so much has been spent on Yucca already despite it's limitations, and my personal preference is not to follow poorly spent tax payer dollars with more poorly spent tax payer dollars. My stance is that the most reasonable and mature approach right now is to move away from Yucca and focus on alternatives... precisely as this Blue Ribbon Commission seems intended to do.


    No worries should you disagree, it's just important to me to understand why that is if you do. My sense is that this comes down to you thinking Yucca is perfectly acceptable and others interpreting the situation otherwise.
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    The population of Nevada opposes the Yucca mountain repository by a very large margin and across political lines. That is ultimately the reason it has been stopped. A poll conducted when the last administration announced Yucca Mtn. would become the only national repository the result was 83% opposed to 11% in favor with 6% undecided.

    It doesn't matter if this is an irrational response - with such strong opposition coming equally from Republicans, Democrats and Independents I don't see how the feds could force it through regardless of which party happens to be in power. Chu and Obama are simply being realistic about not pouring good money after bad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Would I be correct in assuming... based on your responses and tone in this thread... that you'd rather keep spending money on Yucca despite its obvious flaws and limitations, and despite the fact that it's significantly gone over it's already bloated budget by twice the original estimate (and shows no signs that these cost overages will cease any time soon)... instead of cutting our losses and using future monies to find and implement a better alternative?
    I think Yucca Mountain is perfectly fine from a technical standpoint, and only suffers from irrational fears that will plague any other disposal method they come up with. Yes it will end up in somebody's back yard, transported through somebody else's back yard.

    I would be delighted if there is a better alternative to Yucca Mountain. If we are going to investigate the alternatives, it should be based on science, not dictated by politicians. You are really defending the indefensible by supporting political interference into the methods of a scientific study.
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    I don't see this as a scientific study. I see it as an exploratory commission. Big difference. Also, Yucca is a known quantity, so really doesn't need further exploration.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    I think Yucca Mountain is perfectly fine from a technical standpoint, and only suffers from irrational fears that will plague any other disposal method they come up with. Yes it will end up in somebody's back yard, transported through somebody else's back yard.

    I would be delighted if there is a better alternative to Yucca Mountain. If we are going to investigate the alternatives, it should be based on science, not dictated by politicians. You are really defending the indefensible by supporting political interference into the methods of a scientific study.
    Say, for example, the best scientific solution was to bury it in the geologically stable granite beneath New York City, should we ignore politics and just do it?
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    I think Yucca Mountain is perfectly fine from a technical standpoint, and only suffers from irrational fears that will plague any other disposal method they come up with. Yes it will end up in somebody's back yard, transported through somebody else's back yard.
    Harold; Speaking of geological stable (Bunbury), doesn't Yucca set on a fault line, where a water supply could be breached. I'm not sure it's all political. Maybe the best thing would be some form of reprocessing, for other than nuclear weapons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I don't see this as a scientific study. I see it as an exploratory commission. Big difference. Also, Yucca is a known quantity, so really doesn't need further exploration.
    I do believe I read the word "scientific" in Obama's letter. Look at it this way. What if the president ordered a study of available renewable power sources. Then suppose he said, "Solar power sucks. I don't want to see anything about solar power in that report."

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Say, for example, the best scientific solution was to bury it in the geologically stable granite beneath New York City, should we ignore politics and just do it?
    If I were ordering a study, I would expect the report to include all the facts. Then if the politicians or voters decided to disregard the best scientific solution, that would be on them, not me.

    Quote Originally Posted by jackson33
    Harold; Speaking of geological stable (Bunbury), doesn't Yucca set on a fault line, where a water supply could be breached. I'm not sure it's all political. Maybe the best thing would be some form of reprocessing, for other than nuclear weapons.
    What I read about it was that they did a survey, found the location of a fault, then the engineers changed the design location of a building. I did not read that it was critical to the suitability of the site, at least not from any qualified sources. Plenty of internet activists said that it was. Are you an expert in seismic design, or do you know a reason why the fault would be a critical concern?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I don't see this as a scientific study. I see it as an exploratory commission. Big difference. Also, Yucca is a known quantity, so really doesn't need further exploration.
    I do believe I read the word "scientific" in Obama's letter. Look at it this way. What if the president ordered a study of available renewable power sources. Then suppose he said, "Solar power sucks. I don't want to see anything about solar power in that report."
    Well, that's an incredibly poor analogy, and is hardly what has happened here, so I'm not really going to offer any response. I will say, however, that if the data showed solar power to truly be flawed in the same manner that Yucca mountain is flawed then it would be a perfectly reasonable thing for the president to say.

    Again, though... It's not.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    If I were ordering a study, I would expect the report to include all the facts. Then if the politicians or voters decided to disregard the best scientific solution, that would be on them, not me.
    Are you intentionally disregarding the comment I've repeated several times already about Yucca being a "known quantity?"


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    What I read about it was that they did a survey, found the location of a fault, then the engineers changed the design location of a building. I did not read that it was critical to the suitability of the site, at least not from any qualified sources. Plenty of internet activists said that it was. Are you an expert in seismic design, or do you know a reason why the fault would be a critical concern?
    Perhaps you'll dismiss these as comments from "internet activists," but I found them to give some much needed context and clarity when reading them myself:


    http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-058/Ch_A.pdf
    As an integral part of the planned site-characterization program, the U.S. Geological Survey began a series of detailed geologic, geophysical, and related investigations designed to characterize the tectonic setting, fault behavior, and seismicity of the Yucca Mountain area. A broad goal was to provide essential data for assessing the possible risks posed by future seismic and fault activity in the area that may affect the design and longterm performance, and the safe operation, of the potential surface and subsurface repository facilities.

    The results of 13 of the many studies that were undertaken to foster a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of the tectonic environment of Yucca Mountain are presented in this document. Data collection and analyses were performed in accordance with a rigorous (and time-consuming) set of technical procedures and guidelines that were established to comply with quality assurance standards, an essential requirement for activities involved in the siting and licensing of nuclear facilities.

    http://esag.harvard.edu/dmowska/Temp...M_toBSSA09.pdf
    We found that branch activation can have signi cant e ects on the ground motions at the proposed repository site, 1 km away from the SCF beneath the crest of Yucca Mountain. Supershear rupture along the branch segment can cause the repository site to experience a second peak in large vertical rupture velocities. Moderate reductions in horizontal and vertical velocity and large reductions in accelerations occur when elastic-plastic o -fault response is incorporated during rupture.

    http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/ymsum01.htm
    Research confirms that a fault and earthquake hazard exists at the site. A repository sited in a seismically active area is vulnerable to damage and possible loss of isolation capability from seismic events and fault movement. It is the conclusion of Agency earthquake researchers that a magnitude 6.5 - 7.0 earthquake is likely in the vicinity of the site in the next 10,000 years. Of the 33 known Quaternary faults (less than two million years old) in the vicinity of the site, at least five of these faults contain observed volcanic ash, thus providing evidence of a contemporaneous (closely spaced in time) volcanic eruption at Lathrop Wells volcano south of the site with a fault rupture event at the site. Apart from the potential for direct damage to the repository and waste packages, earthquakes cause faults to move and have the potential to result in changes in water tables, to initiate volcanic or geothermal activity, and to drastically alter the hydrologic and geologic conditions at the site.

    <...>

    In summary, the Agency's technical review, on-site monitoring, and independent studies lead to the conclusion that the Yucca Mountain site's natural conditions cannot isolate radioactive waste from the environment for 10,000 years and beyond, as required under federal regulations. While the Agency's assessment acknowledges that data and knowledge uncertainties in some issue areas are large, the Agency's evaluation of site conditions is based on available data (facts) and objective interpretations of the data, not on favorable assumptions, opinions, beliefs, or optimistic judgements about the site's viability.


    Honestly, Harold... Looking at this thread, do you not realize how humorous it is for you to cast forth the label of "internet activist" when it is clearly YOU who is stepping up most prominently using the tone and style of activism? I'm just sayin'...
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I don't see this as a scientific study. I see it as an exploratory commission. Big difference. Also, Yucca is a known quantity, so really doesn't need further exploration.
    I do believe I read the word "scientific" in Obama's letter. Look at it this way. What if the president ordered a study of available renewable power sources. Then suppose he said, "Solar power sucks. I don't want to see anything about solar power in that report."
    Well, that's an incredibly poor analogy, and is hardly what has happened here, so I'm not really going to offer any response. I will say, however, that if the data showed solar power to truly be flawed in the same manner that Yucca mountain is flawed then it would be a perfectly reasonable thing for the president to say.

    Again, though... It's not.
    You haven't shown where it's flawed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    If I were ordering a study, I would expect the report to include all the facts. Then if the politicians or voters decided to disregard the best scientific solution, that would be on them, not me.
    Are you intentionally disregarding the comment I've repeated several times already about Yucca being a "known quantity?"
    Nope. If it's a known quantity, then they would not have to spend any additional time or money to include it. No reason to rule it out. It could be put onto the spreadsheet with all the other alternatives.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    What I read about it was that they did a survey, found the location of a fault, then the engineers changed the design location of a building. I did not read that it was critical to the suitability of the site, at least not from any qualified sources. Plenty of internet activists said that it was. Are you an expert in seismic design, or do you know a reason why the fault would be a critical concern?
    Perhaps you'll dismiss these as comments from "internet activists," but I found them to give some much needed context and clarity when reading them myself:


    http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-058/Ch_A.pdf
    As an integral part of the planned site-characterization program, the U.S. Geological Survey began a series of detailed geologic, geophysical, and related investigations designed to characterize the tectonic setting, fault behavior, and seismicity of the Yucca Mountain area. A broad goal was to provide essential data for assessing the possible risks posed by future seismic and fault activity in the area that may affect the design and longterm performance, and the safe operation, of the potential surface and subsurface repository facilities.

    The results of 13 of the many studies that were undertaken to foster a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of the tectonic environment of Yucca Mountain are presented in this document. Data collection and analyses were performed in accordance with a rigorous (and time-consuming) set of technical procedures and guidelines that were established to comply with quality assurance standards, an essential requirement for activities involved in the siting and licensing of nuclear facilities.
    Okay. Where does it say this rules out Yucca Mountain?

    http://esag.harvard.edu/dmowska/Temp...M_toBSSA09.pdf
    We found that branch activation can have signi cant e ects on the ground motions at the proposed repository site, 1 km away from the SCF beneath the crest of Yucca Mountain. Supershear rupture along the branch segment can cause the repository site to experience a second peak in large vertical rupture velocities. Moderate reductions in horizontal and vertical velocity and large reductions in accelerations occur when elastic-plastic o -fault response is incorporated during rupture.
    Again, so what?

    http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/ymsum01.htm
    Research confirms that a fault and earthquake hazard exists at the site. A repository sited in a seismically active area is vulnerable to damage and possible loss of isolation capability from seismic events and fault movement. It is the conclusion of Agency earthquake researchers that a magnitude 6.5 - 7.0 earthquake is likely in the vicinity of the site in the next 10,000 years. Of the 33 known Quaternary faults (less than two million years old) in the vicinity of the site, at least five of these faults contain observed volcanic ash, thus providing evidence of a contemporaneous (closely spaced in time) volcanic eruption at Lathrop Wells volcano south of the site with a fault rupture event at the site. Apart from the potential for direct damage to the repository and waste packages, earthquakes cause faults to move and have the potential to result in changes in water tables, to initiate volcanic or geothermal activity, and to drastically alter the hydrologic and geologic conditions at the site.

    <...>

    In summary, the Agency's technical review, on-site monitoring, and independent studies lead to the conclusion that the Yucca Mountain site's natural conditions cannot isolate radioactive waste from the environment for 10,000 years and beyond, as required under federal regulations. While the Agency's assessment acknowledges that data and knowledge uncertainties in some issue areas are large, the Agency's evaluation of site conditions is based on available data (facts) and objective interpretations of the data, not on favorable assumptions, opinions, beliefs, or optimistic judgements about the site's viability.
    The state of Nevada is opposed to Yucca mountain. That's not an objective source.
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    Okay. Thanks, Harold. I've enjoyed the exchange.
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    Here is a tidbit on the subject from NRC commissioner Dale Klein.
    Link

    Another challenge that will certainly confront the NRC and the nation for some time is the matter of long-term storage of spent fuel—especially now that a potential repository at Yucca Mountain appears to be off the table. Of course, in my role as Commissioner, I cannot comment on the merits of any of the matters currently before the NRC. But I will say, in my personal view, that I have found the handling of this matter from a national policy perspective… unfortunate. The administration’s handling of the matter has already led to the filing of a number of lawsuits and clouded the path forward in a number of significant ways for years to come. Frankly, I would have preferred the White House to plainly say that it was implementing a policy change. The President has the right and the responsibility to set policy, and clearly an issue of national importance and complexity such as this needs to be periodically revisited. However, in my opinion, the administration’s stated rationale for changing course does not seem to rest on factual findings and thus does not bolster the credibility of our government to handle this matter competently.

    Those who would distort the science of Yucca Mountain for political purposes should be reminded that it was a year ago today that the President issued his memorandum on scientific integrity, in which he stated that “The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.” I honestly cannot say if Yucca Mountain could ever meet the stringent tests that would allow it to be licensed. But I do know that, under the law, that licensing determination… and the technical evaluation of the science… is the NRC’s responsibility.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    That quote from Browner makes it clear that theObama administration is imposing a political restriction on what should be a science based inquiry. So much for that campaign promise. If they are so sure YM is a bad idea, then the blue ribbon panel should be able to quickly eliminate it. Why bother to take it off the table beforehand?

    Fall-back option? We've already cancelled Yucca Mtn without a fall-back option.
    You're wrong to say that (the part in bold). In a democracy like the USA, it should be a political decision. Doing the will of the people matters more than doing the most optimal thing. There's no point in investigating a non-starter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The population of Nevada opposes the Yucca mountain repository by a very large margin and across political lines. That is ultimately the reason it has been stopped. A poll conducted when the last administration announced Yucca Mtn. would become the only national repository the result was 83% opposed to 11% in favor with 6% undecided.

    It doesn't matter if this is an irrational response - with such strong opposition coming equally from Republicans, Democrats and Independents I don't see how the feds could force it through regardless of which party happens to be in power. Chu and Obama are simply being realistic about not pouring good money after bad.

    Deep down, I think this has more to do with their sense of status than anything else. Nobody wants to be the group that is so unimportant that they deserve to have all the waste for the whole country dumped in their backyard, and nobody else sharing the burden with them. If we want to win in this effort politically, we're going to have to have multiple storage sites. It's the only chance that people will take their personal egos out of the equation and just do what's best for the country.

    I'm sure it will cost a great deal more, and be less safe, but that's politics for you. Whatever we do has to feel "fair" to the people who get stuck with the waste. I'm thinking at least 4 storage sites.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    That quote from Browner makes it clear that theObama administration is imposing a political restriction on what should be a science based inquiry. So much for that campaign promise. If they are so sure YM is a bad idea, then the blue ribbon panel should be able to quickly eliminate it. Why bother to take it off the table beforehand?

    Fall-back option? We've already cancelled Yucca Mtn without a fall-back option.
    You're wrong to say that (the part in bold). In a democracy like the USA, it should be a political decision. Doing the will of the people matters more than doing the most optimal thing. There's no point in investigating a non-starter.
    It is a political decision that should be based on scientific facts, especially when you set up a quasi-scientific blue ribbon panel to study it. If it is a non-starter, that's only because it's been demagogued so much.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The population of Nevada opposes the Yucca mountain repository by a very large margin and across political lines. That is ultimately the reason it has been stopped. A poll conducted when the last administration announced Yucca Mtn. would become the only national repository the result was 83% opposed to 11% in favor with 6% undecided.

    It doesn't matter if this is an irrational response - with such strong opposition coming equally from Republicans, Democrats and Independents I don't see how the feds could force it through regardless of which party happens to be in power. Chu and Obama are simply being realistic about not pouring good money after bad.

    Deep down, I think this has more to do with their sense of status than anything else. Nobody wants to be the group that is so unimportant that they deserve to have all the waste for the whole country dumped in their backyard, and nobody else sharing the burden with them. If we want to win in this effort politically, we're going to have to have multiple storage sites. It's the only chance that people will take their personal egos out of the equation and just do what's best for the country.

    I'm sure it will cost a great deal more, and be less safe, but that's politics for you. Whatever we do has to feel "fair" to the people who get stuck with the waste. I'm thinking at least 4 storage sites.
    Silly. People tolerate far more risk every day from other sources. The answer is to educate people to the actual risk and stop the demagoguery. Yucca mountain is 90 miles from Las Vegas. Millions of people live closer than that to operating nuclear reactors, which have fuel much more radioactive and not encased in glass. The risk from those reactors is still minuscule compared to other risks they face each day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    That quote from Browner makes it clear that theObama administration is imposing a political restriction on what should be a science based inquiry. So much for that campaign promise. If they are so sure YM is a bad idea, then the blue ribbon panel should be able to quickly eliminate it. Why bother to take it off the table beforehand?

    Fall-back option? We've already cancelled Yucca Mtn without a fall-back option.
    You're wrong to say that (the part in bold). In a democracy like the USA, it should be a political decision. Doing the will of the people matters more than doing the most optimal thing. There's no point in investigating a non-starter.
    It is a political decision that should be based on scientific facts, especially when you set up a quasi-scientific blue ribbon panel to study it. If it is a non-starter, that's only because it's been demagogued so much.
    The very idea of making a "political decision based on scientific facts" is an oxymoron. "based on scientific facts" and "political decision" are mutually exclusive concepts. Maybe in a better educated world it wouldn't be... I dunno...

    Besides, nobody believes risk estimates. There's always some new physics law being discovered, or a new product that "causes cancer", and people don't know what to believe. You're not going to convince them just by flashing academic credentials at them. In fact, you're not going to convince them no matter what you do. They don't want to be convinced. They want to live by Murphy's law and hopefully keep their kids safe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The population of Nevada opposes the Yucca mountain repository by a very large margin and across political lines. That is ultimately the reason it has been stopped. A poll conducted when the last administration announced Yucca Mtn. would become the only national repository the result was 83% opposed to 11% in favor with 6% undecided.

    It doesn't matter if this is an irrational response - with such strong opposition coming equally from Republicans, Democrats and Independents I don't see how the feds could force it through regardless of which party happens to be in power. Chu and Obama are simply being realistic about not pouring good money after bad.

    Deep down, I think this has more to do with their sense of status than anything else. Nobody wants to be the group that is so unimportant that they deserve to have all the waste for the whole country dumped in their backyard, and nobody else sharing the burden with them. If we want to win in this effort politically, we're going to have to have multiple storage sites. It's the only chance that people will take their personal egos out of the equation and just do what's best for the country.

    I'm sure it will cost a great deal more, and be less safe, but that's politics for you. Whatever we do has to feel "fair" to the people who get stuck with the waste. I'm thinking at least 4 storage sites.
    Silly. People tolerate far more risk every day from other sources. The answer is to educate people to the actual risk and stop the demagoguery. Yucca mountain is 90 miles from Las Vegas. Millions of people live closer than that to operating nuclear reactors, which have fuel much more radioactive and not encased in glass. The risk from those reactors is still minuscule compared to other risks they face each day.


    It is simply not stylish to be the "dumping ground". That's why on site storage is preferred. It conforms to the "You made it. You store it." ethic. Nobody feels like their social status is threatened. I know it is really sad that we live in a world where people care more about petty issues of status than they do about nuclear waste, but we do.

    Even if the odds of them getting hurt by it are 1 out of 10 to the 2000th power, that is more risk than people in Nebraska are having to endure, and that makes them feel like you must care more about people in Nebraska than you do about them. This is a "who matters more?" debate, not a "what is the total risk to the country?" debate.

    If there were 4 sites in different regions of the country (meaning 4 times the risk of a leak) that would be politically better, because people around Yucca would believe they were not being singled out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The very idea of making a "political decision based on scientific facts" is an oxymoron. "based on scientific facts" and "political decision" are mutually exclusive concepts. Maybe in a better educated world it wouldn't be... I dunno...
    Well, it's what Obama said he would do, in the context that Bush was making political decisions (re global warming) against the scientific consensus, and he would make his decisions based on the science.
    Besides, nobody believes risk estimates. There's always some new physics law being discovered, or a new product that "causes cancer", and people don't know what to believe. You're not going to convince them just by flashing academic credentials at them. In fact, you're not going to convince them no matter what you do. They don't want to be convinced. They want to live by Murphy's law and hopefully keep their kids safe.
    Somebody convinced them they were in grave danger from the nuclear waste.
    That's why on site storage is preferred.
    Onsite storage is not an alternative. It is merely a temporary stopgap.
    If there were 4 sites in different regions of the country (meaning 4 times the risk of a leak) that would be politically better, because people around Yucca would believe they were not being singled out.
    Why not 40 or 400? There is always going to be somebody living closer than somebody else.
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    If and when Obama and his crew decide on a ite that is scientifically inferior to Yucca mountain, then your case may have more merit.

    Would you rather have him say that all options are on the table (as the bush administration did many times), when in fact a course has already been decided, (as it had already seemwed to be in so many Bush administration decisions)? At least this seems honest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    If and when Obama and his crew decide on a ite that is scientifically inferior to Yucca mountain, then your case may have more merit.
    We'll never know, will we, because YM will not be in the blue ribbon panel report for comparison.
    Would you rather have him say that all options are on the table (as the bush administration did many times), when in fact a course has already been decided, (as it had already seemwed to be in so many Bush administration decisions)? At least this seems honest.
    No, I would rather the course be decided after the facts are in. Breaking a campaign promise is not honest.
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    If Obama had promised to not consider YM during his campaign, then this course of action would in fact represent keeping a campaign promise.

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu is keeping Obama's campaign promise to shut down the intended repository for the waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...67_kate26.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    If and when Obama and his crew decide on a site that is scientifically inferior to Yucca mountain, then your case may have more merit.
    We'll never know, will we, because YM will not be in the blue ribbon panel report for comparison.
    The comparison may be quite do-able with existing knowledge about YM.

    Incidentally, evidently Ronald Reagan took a similar course. Would you agree with the linked letter, which dismisses YM as an unsuitable repository and calls its selection politically motivated?

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=5690,4438524
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    The comparison may be quite do-able with existing knowledge about YM.
    As the NRC commissioner stated in the article above, the NRC is the agency with the responsibility and the expertise to evaluate the suitability of YM through the licensing process. That won't happen now. We will get a lot of debate in the media between people without the expertise or facts.
    Incidentally, evidently Ronald Reagan took a similar course. Would you agree with the linked letter, which dismisses YM as an unsuitable repository and calls its selection politically motivated?

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=5690,4438524
    I didn't see Reagan's name mentioned in that article, so I can't judge the extent to which he interfered in the decision process. It is an op ed piece by a representative of an "environmental organization." It does not shed much light on what actually happened when the decisions were made, or the technical merits of the sites that were considered.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The very idea of making a "political decision based on scientific facts" is an oxymoron. "based on scientific facts" and "political decision" are mutually exclusive concepts. Maybe in a better educated world it wouldn't be... I dunno...
    Well, it's what Obama said he would do, in the context that Bush was making political decisions (re global warming) against the scientific consensus, and he would make his decisions based on the science.
    ... And you believed him.

    If a tiger says he'll stop having stripes.... if a rattlesnake says he'll get rid of his venom.... if a politician says he'll stop making decisions based on politics....


    Besides, nobody believes risk estimates. There's always some new physics law being discovered, or a new product that "causes cancer", and people don't know what to believe. You're not going to convince them just by flashing academic credentials at them. In fact, you're not going to convince them no matter what you do. They don't want to be convinced. They want to live by Murphy's law and hopefully keep their kids safe.
    Somebody convinced them they were in grave danger from the nuclear waste.
    A person living by Murphy's law will always believe accusations of danger, and never believe accusations of safety. Most American parents live by Murphy's law, especially since birth defects are strongly associated with the idea of nuclear catastrophes.

    That's why on site storage is preferred.
    Onsite storage is not an alternative. It is merely a temporary stopgap.
    If there were 4 sites in different regions of the country (meaning 4 times the risk of a leak) that would be politically better, because people around Yucca would believe they were not being singled out.
    Why not 40 or 400? There is always going to be somebody living closer than somebody else.
    Good point, but 4 is a very optimum number. With 4 sites, there is a sense of a community effort. The "what's good enough for them should be good enough for me." ethic kicks in. If 3 other cities are willing to accept the waste (for the good of the country) and I'm not, then people are going to ask me if I'm some kind of an elitist. Do I think I'm better than those other 3 cities?

    So, what I'm saying is: you can't ask one region to bear that burden all by itself, but you can ask a handful of regions to bear the burden. American culture is ok with making sacrifices for the greater good in the latter situation.

    Really at the core, that's what concentrating the waste is all about. Someone somewhere is being asked to make a sacrifice for the rest of us. Whatever nonsensical expectations they have of us in return, we should honor them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax

    ... And you believed him.
    No, I just like to keep pointing that out to those who did.
    Someone somewhere is being asked to make a sacrifice for the rest of us.
    What sacrifice? There is no sacrifice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    What sacrifice? There is no sacrifice.
    Well obviously enough people feel it is a sacrifice. And doubtful you'll entirely dispel that feeling.

    So turn it around. Can Americans feel proud to make a sacrifice? In that light you may have states stepping up to the honour.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    So turn it around. Can Americans feel proud to make a sacrifice? In that light you may have states stepping up to the honour.
    Yeah. I think this is a good direction to try and go. And it's another reason to have multiple sites. They can feel like they're competing to more graciously bear the honor, or take pride in feeling like their containment site is the best, or contributing the most. If you can make people look at a containment site the way they look at their home basketball team, or maybe the way they look at army bases, then political resistance becomes political encouragement.

    I have to admit, however, that the trouble is, as Harold points out, the irrational fears. I remember how nuclear waste looked to me before I knew anything about physics or chemistry. One advantage of being raised in an ignorant religious community before getting an education is that you know what ignorance is like. You'll never convince some people that they're safe near a nuclear plant. Some people are dumb and proud of it, and they won't accept an explanation that takes more than a few sentences. Either you must work with them, or we have to get rid of democracy, because they'll vote whether they know what they're doing or not.

    That's why I keep saying that we have to appeal to their emotions, because the situation we are in is such that that is the only workable strategy. I would rather see nuclear waste all stored at one site, but if the outcome of pursuing that goal is that we end up having to perpetuate the current situation (on site storage at a large number of locations), then it is better that we not pursue it. We should pursue a more realistic goal instead. Besides: having a small number of storage sites is a stepping stone to the goal of a single site.
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