Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Counting the Cards in Nevada

 

President Trump is putting Nevada in play for the 2020 election. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project has always been a political hot potato and a hole in the ground into which Congress pours money. Senator Dean Heller, like Senator Reid before him, is opposed to the Yucca Mountain project, and there are likely not the votes to force the issue. Now the story in important Las Vegas news outlets is President Trump is on Nevada’s side.

This is very savvy. Presidents, Congress, and bureaucrats have been talking but never actually acting to use Yucca Mountain. Over decades, surely smarter answers have emerged than transporting and concentrating high-level nuclear waste in one location.

Now we have a president throwing the bovine scat flag on the old game, enabling real solutions to surface for serious consideration. Yet another win for America on many levels.

  • Nevada wins, gets what people demand.
  • Nuclear power wins if real waste management emerges, removing waste as obstacle to construction.
  • Environment wins with waste management and more non-greenhouse gas energy.
  • Homes, businesses get more megawatts of reliable and truly “green” power at affordable prices.
  • More nuclear power means more ability to power more electric motors, fill more batteries.

Published in Science & Technology
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There are 46 comments.

  1. The Reticulator Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Over decades, surely smarter answers have emerged than transporting and concentrating high level nuclear waste in one location.

    I’d be interested in what some of those smarter answers might be. I have not kept up with this topic since I used to discuss it with a co-worker whose father was a small-college professor who’d join those chaining themselves to fences and trees to oppose the use of nuclear power.

    • #1
    • February 6, 2020, at 9:01 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Timely is this article I just saw over at Fox News:

    https://www.foxnews.com/science/chernobyl-fungi-eats-radiation

     

     

    • #2
    • February 6, 2020, at 9:14 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Clifford, nuclear power plants have been paying for this repository for years. The solution that was developed over the years was storing the waste on-site at the nuclear plant. That does not give much room. We will need a high-level waste facility regardless of how we proceed, and Nevada has the safest location.

    We could reprocess and recycle the fuel, like most European countries do. That would massively reduce the volume of waste involved. You still need a waste storage area for the fraction you can’t recycle – it could be a big concrete pad with fencing and security, or the existing Yucca Mountain facility, but every country needs a place to store the hazardous waste.

    • #3
    • February 6, 2020, at 9:21 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  4. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists has for a while been seeking to upgrade the level of radioactive waste they’ve been storing at their plant in Andrews County, literally on the Texas-New Mexico state line. Andrews and WCS entered into the agreement for the plant, six miles from Eunice, N.M., two decades ago when oil was around $11 a barrel and horizontal drilling and fracking was still about 5-6 years off. Their current request is to store higher radioactive waste, but only on a temporary basis.

    It’s sparked a lot of protests over the years, mainly from people outside of the area, though if WCS applied to make it the national underground waste repository, I’m not sure how the people in Eunice would react, or the companies with oil and gas drilling leases in the area (Eunice couldn’t do anything about the WCS plant in the 1990s, because it wasn’t in New Mexico, so they decided a few years later if that was going to be there, they might as well put a uranium enrichment plant across the road on their side of the state line).

    • #4
    • February 6, 2020, at 9:50 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    I wish him luck with this Gordian tunnel. 

    My understanding – shallow, no doubt – is that Nevada has been getting paid a lot of money on a regular basis for providing nuclear waste storage that they refuse to let us store nuclear waste in. 

    Energy is so important that every year presidential candidates have to suggest that gasohol and an empty Yucca Mountain facility are sacrosanct boondoggles. Sad. 

    • #5
    • February 6, 2020, at 11:49 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. E. Kent Golding Member

    I hope those smarter ideas involve physics , math , & chemistry rather than just politics and pandering. Yucca mountain may still be the wisest idea.

    • #6
    • February 7, 2020, at 1:32 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Over decades, surely smarter answers have emerged than transporting and concentrating high level nuclear waste in one location.

    I’d be interested in what some of those smarter answers might be. I have not kept up with this topic since I used to discuss it with a co-worker whose father was a small-college professor who’d join those chaining themselves to fences and trees to oppose the use of nuclear power.

    I remember the original concept was to reprocess the active uranium / plutonium, dilute the leftovers, encapsulate in concrete balls, bury at a location like Yucca Flats. Some people were bothered by the 10,000+ year half-life of some of the waste, but of course such waste is relatively non-radioactive.

    This hot potato is really just a smaller version of the “we’re running out of landfills” garbage disposal.

    • #7
    • February 7, 2020, at 4:12 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Too bad. This is one thing I disagree with Trump about.

    Yucca Mountain is the ideal place to put nuclear waste. It was killed for political reasons, not technical ones.

    • #8
    • February 7, 2020, at 5:42 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I agree with @stad and @omegapaladin. It’s all about politics, and although there are other options, the people have paid to build Yucca Mountain. Finish it up and use it.

    • #9
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:03 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    • #10
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:27 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    Of course not! Because DocJay!

    • #11
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:28 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    Of course not! Because DocJay!

    Oh. Yeah. Maybe when he’s hunting in Montana, or something?

    • #12
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Gary Robbins Reagan

    While I disagree with Trump on this policy, I think that this is a brilliant tactical move.

    • #13
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:44 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Doug Kimball Thatcher

    Put it in a rocket ship and shoot it at the Sun. What could go wrong? I’ll bet some clever Hollywood types could have fun with that. Oh, and the cure for global warming, build some massive nuclear evaporators (say retrofitted nuclear powered ships) to convert rising ocean water to steam. The additional water in the atmosphere would spur cloud cover, countering warming and cooling the earth. The Hollywood types can have that one as well.

    • #14
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:51 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    The additional water in the atmosphere would spur cloud cover, countering warming and cooling the earth

    Uh, you do realize that water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas there is in our atmosphere? It causes hundreds of times more warming than CO2.

    • #15
    • February 7, 2020, at 6:53 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. Old Buckeye Member

    Yucca Mountain has been in the works since at least 1990 when I was being recruited to go there to work as soon as it was up and running, which the recruiters thought might be any day (I wrote procedures for the nuke industry). I can’t believe that in 30 years the science for containing the waste hasn’t been honed to near perfection. The multiple on-site repositories seem a lot more dangerous to me than having one central place that can be well guarded, well monitored, and built to higher specs than the various plants have been able to do. I’ve always considered it a political football. 

    • #16
    • February 7, 2020, at 7:05 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  17. Arahant Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    Eh, turns out we already nuked Nevada 904 times. I guess they lived through it all.

    • #17
    • February 7, 2020, at 7:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  18. The Reticulator Member

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    Yucca Mountain has been in the works since at least 1990 when I was being recruited to go there to work as soon as it was up and running, which the recruiters thought might be any day (I wrote procedures for the nuke industry). I can’t believe that in 30 years the science for containing the waste hasn’t been honed to near perfection. The multiple on-site repositories seem a lot more dangerous to me than having one central place that can be well guarded, well monitored, and built to higher specs than the various plants have been able to do. I’ve always considered it a political football.

    It’s our punishment for enacting a form of government in which the majority can’t run roughshod over the minority. 

    • #18
    • February 7, 2020, at 7:27 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    Any energy discussion that doesn’t include nuclear is unserious!

    Every major U.S. military base could house a nuclear power-plant that serves the region in which it is located. The reactors would be safe and we’d have more electricity than we know what do with. All without shredding/incinerating our bird and bat population. And as @oldbuckeye points out, having one, central repository, buried deep in a mountain far away, makes all the sense in the world.

     

    • #19
    • February 7, 2020, at 7:35 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Stad Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    The same people who worry Yucca Mountain will leak are the same people who haven’t asked the government to clean up after all the underground nuclear tests. In fact, the above-ground tests used to be seen from Vegas and were once promoted for tourism:

    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2014/08/atomic-tests-were-a-tourist-draw-in-1950s-las-vegas/375802/

    So why all the worry now? Decades of fear-mongering by anti-nuclear activists, and anti-nuke politicians like Harry Reid capitalizing on those fears (“Elect me, and I’ll kill Yucca Mountain!”). A pro-Yucca Mountain candidate in Nevada would have about the same chance of getting elected as an anti-ethanol candidate in Iowa.

    Speaking of Reid, I’ve proposed we honor Harry by naming the facility “The Harry Reid Nuclear Waste Repository”.

    We could even put his picture on the entrance to the vaults . . .

    • #20
    • February 7, 2020, at 8:33 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. Bishop Wash Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    Why did we stop?

    • #21
    • February 7, 2020, at 10:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Bishop Wash Member

    Finland appears to be coming up with a solution to their waste.

    • #22
    • February 7, 2020, at 10:24 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  23. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. When I first moved to Nevada I couldn’t believe my ears that Liberals were turning their collective noses up at a large federal spending program that was suppose to help with the environment. I thought it was good as done. Once the Fed’s get rolling on something — states can’t stop it. Right?

    Anyway, the more I read about nuclear (and I pronounce it nu-clear, sorry elites) power plants and waste, the more I realized its not necessary to have a Yucca Mountain facility. Don’t get me wrong — I love nuclear — its just the moving of nuclear waste that I don’t like. Not because of terrorism or train wrecks, but simply, its an unnecessary waste of money. If they wish to process it, like France, then move it. But dumping waste into a giant hole in the ground is .. like dumping money into a hole in the ground.

    • #23
    • February 7, 2020, at 10:57 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Can we just nuke Nevada?

    Why did we stop?

    Casinos are downwind of of the fallout from the Trinity site, unlike Nevada, where it’s the opposite way around. Can’t irradiate the tourists.

    • #24
    • February 7, 2020, at 11:09 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve always thought that the solution is to re-process all waste fuel, use the initial product as fuel for the new generation of small modular reactors, and put the balance of the highly reduced waste in the WIPP.

    • #25
    • February 7, 2020, at 12:26 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Stad Thatcher

    JimGoneWild (View Comment):
    Don’t get me wrong — I love nuclear — its just the moving of nuclear waste that I don’t like. Not because of terrorism or train wrecks, but simply, its an unnecessary waste of money.

    The stuff ain’t getting there by itself . . .

    • #26
    • February 7, 2020, at 12:33 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. Stad Thatcher

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that the solution is to re-process all waste fuel, use the initial product as fuel for the new generation of small modular reactors, and put the balance of the highly reduced waste in the WIPP.

    We should be reprocessing because volumetric waste reduction will recover unused fuel which can be recycled into new fuel. The problem is Jimmy Carter killed it off because he was worried about proliferation – as if the stuff could be loaded on the back of a pickup and stolen.

    • #27
    • February 7, 2020, at 12:34 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  28. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    JimGoneWild (View Comment):
    Don’t get me wrong — I love nuclear — its just the moving of nuclear waste that I don’t like. Not because of terrorism or train wrecks, but simply, its an unnecessary waste of money.

    The stuff ain’t getting there by itself . . .

    Hmmm? If you mean the nuclear waste, I’m saying don’t move it. Keep it at the power plant forever. It’s already being done, there is not enough to where there are storage space problems. If Yucca is used, they want special trains and train track built, highways, on and on. Stupid waste of tax money.

    • #28
    • February 7, 2020, at 1:05 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Stad (View Comment):

    Too bad. This is one thing I disagree with Trump about.

    Yucca Mountain is the ideal place to put nuclear waste. It was killed for political reasons, not technical ones.

    I think it’s only fair to allow Nevada to pay back the moneys for reneging in their agreements. 

    • #29
    • February 7, 2020, at 2:10 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    Put it in a rocket ship and shoot it at the Sun. What could go wrong? I’ll bet some clever Hollywood types could have fun with that. Oh, and the cure for global warming, build some massive nuclear evaporators (say retrofitted nuclear powered ships) to convert rising ocean water to steam. The additional water in the atmosphere would spur cloud cover, countering warming and cooling the earth. The Hollywood types can have that one as well.

    That was my thought as well, but I read somewhere that it is actually a lot harder to hit the sun than one would expect for weird scientifical reasons which I didn’t understand at the time and have no interest in looking up right now. 

    So those are the solid facts backed up by some kind of science somewhere – next I will school everyone on climate change based on what some Swedish kid read on the internets. 

    • #30
    • February 7, 2020, at 2:15 PM PST
    • 1 like