Nuclear waste. It’s the most controversial kind of trash. Here in the U.S. our government has been talking about different ways to bury nuclear waste for years. Nearly a decade ago, Congress passed a law stating we needed a permanent underground storage facility by the mid-1990’s and later named Yucca Mountain, outside of Vegas, as the chosen spot.
Lately though, the government has been rethinking that decision. For one thing, Japan’s nuclear disaster proved worrisome, causing experts to rethink the whole idea of storing toxic waste in pools.
But Yucca Mountain was the subject of debate long before the earthquake in Japan. It’s a bit of a messy fight to follow. I didn’t quite understand all the pieces until I read this handy list of FAQs published by Reuters. In a nutshell, people in Nevada have long been pissed about the choice of where to put America’s nuclear waste, President Obama campaigned on the promise to block the facility from being built, his administration did indeed block the Yucca Mountain site, inspiring the Government Accountability Office to prepare and release a report stating that politics rather than technical or safety concerns drove the decision.
The report also pointed out that since 1983 the government has spent $15 billion assessing Yucca Mountain, $9.5 billion of which was collected via extra charges on Americans’ electric bills.
We’ll have to wait until early next year to find out what an appointed Blue Ribbon commission suggests we do instead. Our options include finding a new place to dig a hole, looking to the French model of recycling nuclear waste or paying a country like Mongolia to deal with it for us. One would hope the proposed plan includes ideas on creating less nuclear waste in the first place.
Tags: Yucca Mountain