A little noticed section of President Obama’s 2011 budget calls for the closing of Yucca Mountain. What is Yucca Mountain, you might ask? Well, let me begin, as they say, at the beginning.
In 1987 Congress designated Yucca Mountain as the future repository for all nuclear waste in this country. Yucca Mountain is inside a government nuclear test site in the Nevada desert. So far, we have spent $9 billion constructing an intricate maze of underground tunnels and chambers designed to house nuclear waste safely for at least a million years. Due in part to its complexity, the site wasn’t expected to receive any nuclear waste until 2020. Currently, all such waste is being stored in temporary facilities. One more thing…Yucca Mountain is the only long term nuclear waste site this country has.
As a result of Obama’s budget decision, Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, will soon, if he hasn’t already, withdraw the application to have the facility licensed. But, as Mitch Singer, a spokesperson for the nuclear energy industry, said,
You can do all the recycling in the world, but you are still going to be left with a residue that has to be stored somewhere, preferably underground. You’ve got this residue. Where are you going to put it?”
Not to worry. The Obama administration has established “a panel of experts” to find another location.
Let’s think about that. After Congress picked a location in 1987, it would have taken 23 years and, well more than $9 billion of work, to actually open a facility. How long do you think it will take for this new “panel of experts” to pick a location, and, get the facility open? We can only hope that the temporary facilities currently in use were “over-designed”.
The mysterious part of all of this is that President Obama’s budget also adds $36 billion to guarantee loans for new nuclear plants.
I sometimes wonder if anyone in this administration communicates with anyone else.
Update (Steve): American Thinker has a good companion piece to the SOS’s post today.