Disposing of nuclear waste

Remember in early 2010 when President Obama ordered that all construction on the proposed nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain be halted?  Since then we have heard little about the topic.  However, on July 29, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, formed by President Obama last year, issued its draft report, and it is not good news.

Almost 30 years ago, Uncle Sam entered into a contract with utilities to dispose of their nuclear waste beginning in 1998.  That disposal was supposed to happen at Yucca Mountain.  Under the law, all nuclear facilities were required to pay an annual fee to the nuclear waste trust fund to cover the cost of Yucca Mountain.

The fee, which ultimately comes from nuclear-electricity customers as a surcharge of 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt hour, now amounts to about $750 million a year.  Counting past expenditures and interest earned, the fund’s balance is about $25 billion.

When the federal government missed the 1998 deadline, utilities sued the government to recover their costs incurred in storing the waste.  So far, according to federal officials, it will cost the government some $16.2 billion to pay the legal judgments entered against the government…assuming  there will be a completed federal disposal site by 2020.

There is a small problem, though…the $25 billion fund does not exist.  All of the fees collected in excess of the costs of building the Yucca Mountain facility, instead of being placed in a trust fund, were simply spent by the government as quickly as they were received.  As a result,

[a] group of state regulators and the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade organization, are suing the Department of Energy, seeking to suspend collection of the annual fees utilities pay into the waste fund.  ‘There’s no sense paying a fee if you are not getting a program for it’ said NEI’s Steven Kraft.

Additionally, the President’s panel is recommending that the annual fees sent to the government be reduced to cover solely the costs of the program (whatever that program may now be), with the remainder being held by the utilities in their own trust fund.

Bottom line…even President Obama’s own panel doesn’t trust the federal government to do what it promises.


23 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Hmmm, a government “trust” fund that doesn’t really exist.? Where have I heard that before?
    Just more evidence of their belief that it’s “all their money”.

  2. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    How do you think the cost of the work done at Yucca Mountain, previous studies and evaluations were paid for? Surely not by the non-nuclear utility customers!

  3. PatRiot
    PatRiot says:

    How many other schemes?are out there like this one?
    As Sallie Mae and Freddie and Fannie Mae were Dodd / Frank debacles, so this belongs to Harry Reid.?
    And McCain is probably involved in the partially built border wall – hmmm…?? Maybe Bernie Madoff was just an amateur compared to these guys.

  4. PatRiot
    PatRiot says:

    The reality is that having 110 reactors in the US means that there are 110 spent fuel sites instead of one!?????? FOOLISHNESS.?
    The odds are against keeping?that many sites safe from natural?disasters or terrorist activity.
    And where?are the environmentalists on this??? ……. Crickets.
    We have more than paid for Yucca Mtn.? To let it sit idle is ridiculous.
    If you are not getting satisfaction from your Government – DEMAND IT.

  5. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    If there is ever a catastrophe involving the nuclear waste scattered hither and yon because of the government’s failure to open Yucca Mountain, responsibility lies with Barack Hussein Obama (the Downgrade President) and Sen. Harry Reid (the Downgrade Senate Majority Leader).?

  6. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    It would take thousands upon thousands of overland trips to get the nuclear waste from the reactor sites to Yucca Mountain (it’s in NV, you know). Compare the risk of moving it with that of leaving it at the sites. The Utilities have figured out a solution w/o government intervention. You should be glad of that.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Nuclear waste is heavy, but dense.? It wouldn’t take as many trips as you might think.? The issue is well guarded, reinforced cars to carry it.

    • ricbee
      ricbee says:

      ?There is? little risk of anything happening either onsite or in Yucca Mt. It was just a feel-good project anyway.

  7. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    Millions will die an agonizing death from radiation poisoning because of Obama. In his eyes, it will be punishment for Amerikkka using the A-bombs against Japan!

  8. TomL
    TomL says:

    I think having it in one place and guarding one place is a better alternative than multi storage places.

  9. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    That was the thinking going back years. Since the political system, going back decades, could not come up w/ a workable solution, the Utilities made their own plans.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      They did come up with a workable solution: Yucca Mountain.? Unfortunately, we have a tyro president that does not agree.? He doesn’t have a better idea, but he doesn’t agree.
      If the terrorists only have to be right once, and we have to be right every time, it is far easier for that “every time” to happen at a single, well guarded location.

  10. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    SOS should have let this one go by. The comments indicate a lack of factual and technical information.

  11. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Of course it’s my opinion. Also, I am a Nuclear Physicist who has spent the last 40 years in this field.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      So your recommendation as a nuclear physicist is to leave all these waste dumps in sites of variable quality and security?? If so, then return the money to the utilities to care for these sites, as they request.? They are the ones that need it if Yucca Mtn. is passe.
      How many nuclear physicists help design the Fukushima Daiichi facilities?

  12. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    My credentials are better than anyone else who comments here, and I say millions will die because of Obama and Reid.

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