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Decommissioning Nuclear Plants Costing Far More Than Expected

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the have-you-tried-selling-them-to-evil-masterminds dept.

Power 288

Lasrick writes: "This article takes a look at cost estimates of nuclear power plant decommissioning from the 1980s, and how widely inaccurate they turned out to be. This is a pretty fascinating look at past articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that consistently downplayed the costs of decommissioning, for example: 'The Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts, took 15 years to decommission—or five times longer than was needed to build it. And decommissioning the plant—constructed early in the 1960s for $39 million—cost $608 million. The plant's spent fuel rods are still stored in a facility on-site, because there is no permanent disposal repository to put them in. To monitor them and make sure the material does not fall into the hands of terrorists or spill into the nearby river costs $8 million per year.'"

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First.... (4, Insightful)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 8 months ago | (#46874741)

Kill all the lawyers.

Re:First.... (5, Interesting)

penguinoid (724646) | about 8 months ago | (#46875251)

Also got to kill the stupid environmentalists (only the stupid kind that are opposed to nuclear because it contains the word "nuclear", to coal, oil and gas cause it contains carbon, to hydroelectric cause of sediments, to wind cause of birds, to solar cause of toxic elements during production, ...). Sadly, there aren't enough environmentalists who can look at the whole picture and realize that nuclear plants produce less radioactive waste than coal plants, skyscrapers kill more birds than wind power, etc., and that if they want to accomplish something they need to support a realistic objective.

Re:First.... (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 8 months ago | (#46875591)

Yeah, kill all people that don't like your idea of the world.

nuclear plants produce less radioactive waste than coal plants

This is so stupid it defies belief. Care to substantiate this claim with numbers and sources thereof?

Re:First.... (2, Interesting)

cheater512 (783349) | about 8 months ago | (#46875649)

Hey if all the hardcore greenies die off, that will leave plenty more of the Earth's resources for the rest of us, and we could have clean nuclear energy without any issues.

And yes Coal does release more radiation than nuclear. Funnily enough they keep the radiation in the nuclear plant extremely well.
Coal contains radioactive compounds in small quantities, which are then burnt, sent up a chimney and left to spread wherever the air currents want to take them.
http://www.scientificamerican.... [scientificamerican.com]

Who is so stupid again? The people more educated than yourself?

Re:First.... (4, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | about 8 months ago | (#46875703)

One, you have serious reading comprehension issues. OP claims coal produces more nuclear waste than nuclear power.

Two, that SA article has been debunked so many times, it isn't even funny. The 'research' it is based on is from 1977 and it discusses coal plants that aren't built anymore. Here, for your reading pleasure: http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

Re:First.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875685)

It's true that less radioactive compounds are released from nuclear reactors because nuclear reactors are designed with "not releasing radioactive compounds" in mind. Instead of releasing them they collect them in spent fuel pools. Compared to coal which belches heavy metals and radioactives into the air constantly this is awesome. What's not so awesome is the quantity of radioactives in those pools is massive compared to the releases from coal. When the pool boils dry or shatters under an earthquake you're left with massive amounts of radiation you were hoping to keep out of the environment leaking...into the environment.

It's just a nice idea. Nice that we try to keep that crap out of our air. It just doesn't work for the same reason as all development works...once the interesting problems are solved we want to move on. We don't like to deal with the crap from yesterday, and that's just what the spent fuel happens to be. For all the people suggesting we can solve this problem later I'll point you to Yucca mountain. 1982 was a long time ago.

Re:First.... (4, Interesting)

Qwertie (797303) | about 8 months ago | (#46875497)

It's hard to have a proper discussion on this one because there's no cost breakdown given, no reason why decommissioning is so expensive. There's not even any indication if it's just this one plant that is expensive, all plants in the U.S., or all first-generation plants in the world.

While the $39 million build cost would be far, far greater after adjusting for inflation, making the $608 million decommissioning seem less ridiculous, this still seems much more expensive then it ought to be. Why? Lawyers? Regulations? A poor reactor design that is simply very difficult to dismantle safely?

Coal is the largest and fastest-growing power source worldwide, and as I understand it, the dirtiest in terms of pollution in general as well as CO2. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] seems to say that renewables (including, er, wood burning?!) currently have 5% market share in the U.S. (the tables could use some clarifications). In practice, nuclear energy is a necessary ingredient to get CO2 emissions under control. So let's figure out what these huge costs are and then talk about how to reduce them in the future.

Re:First.... (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 8 months ago | (#46875513)

Worldwide.

Not in the US, where the discussion is occurring about dismantling.

In the US, coal is being replaced by cleaner and cheaper Natural Gas.

Thanks Nevada (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874771)

It's all your fault Harry Reid.

Re:Thanks Nevada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875165)

A Pro Solar Politician so here is your chance to recall/impeach H.R.
http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-senate-recall-senator-harry-reid

It should be implied that Harry Reid will shutdown ~100 Nuclear Plants!

Why is this happening? (4, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#46874781)

Is there a shortage of concrete?

Re:Why is this happening? (2, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 8 months ago | (#46874987)

Yes, the costs are high, higher than originally predicted, but when averaged out per KWH produced by the plant, its really not that much. These articles always lack the perspective of scale and production life of the plant. D&D costs could go even higher and it would still be a good deal.

Re:Why is this happening? (4, Funny)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 months ago | (#46875349)

I know getting all the books for 5th edition will be expensive but I still can't see D&D costing 640 million dollars-- even with a redone Vault of the Drow module.

Re:Why is this happening? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#46875433)

But that's not how it works. You can't reasonably average the cost of decommissioning it over the entire lifespan because every year, all the money that didn't go into operations or paying off the original debt went into the profit bucket, and paid out as a bonus or dividend or building some other power plant.

You can only reasonably apply to the costs to the current year, which makes for massive losses, which clearly makes it unprofitable now, therefore they should never have made the power plant to begin with.

Re:Why is this happening? (1)

immaterial (1520413) | about 8 months ago | (#46875533)

But that's not how it works. Nuclear regulations in the US require companies to build trust funds over time for the decommissioning of nuclear plants. Nobody is waiting until the last minute. (Though as TFA points out, the estimates of decommissioning costs are turning out to be ~ 1/5 the real cost.)

Re:Why is this happening? (1)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about 8 months ago | (#46875573)

Unless you're being sarcastic, no. Hell no. When any power plant is built there's absolutely no revenue, and absolutely no KHW, so to you it's a loss, and we won't be building any power plants. This is classic beancounter-level thinking, and I hope you are no where near running any business or voting for budget matters.

The point of having a power plant is to provide electricity, which, even if all you care about is money, supports economy output. The overall cost is the cost of the electricity it produces, and it is a justification of building this plant over another plant, among weighing other pros and cons.

If it works out that we're getting cheap (and clean / safe etc.) electricity after all, it's good to have built this power plant. Perhaps we can discuss how they should have priced the electricity to cover these costs, or where the original profits should have gone; building another power plant isn't a bad way to go, as with funding the decommission of another plant. Either way we can't let this kind of stupid short-term accounting get in the way of providing essential long term services.

It's not about profit (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#46875539)

This is about the funds reserved for decommissioning out of the profits made from the plant while in operation. The idea is that you create a fund where you put in money for every KWh sold. Then, by the end of the lifetime of the plant, you use those funds to adequately deal with what needs to be done to keep the radiation and poison out of the environment. If those funds aren't sufficient because of miscalculations or bad fund management (sub prime mortgages anyone?) Houston won't help you with your problem and Washington will have to step in.

As far as I know this hasn't resulted in any nuclear facility being abandoned and the rods exposed to the elements, but it's something we need to look at in order to avoid state and federal tax money having to be spent. We all know that the guys cutting the corners in budget estimates will grant themselves big bonuses for saving so much money and they'll be long gone when the radiation hits the fan. In the end citizens will pay for those bonuses and keeping the situation safe, so getting the calculations redone and adjusting the funds percentages is in order.

Re:Why is this happening? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 8 months ago | (#46875087)

They usually try to return these plants back to something close to a greenfield state. As if it were never there... (except for the fuel storage)

How many trillion would it cost to return (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875317)

Manhattan or Chicago to a "greenfield state"?

It's stupid to spend piles of money turning a useful facility into a "pristine" grassy prarie just so some eco-friendly big city dwellers can celebrate that butterflies and jackrabbits are happy in some far-off bit of countryside those "city folk" are never going to visit anyway. If we must spend a small fortune turning a nuclear plant into a grassy parkland, I vote we do the same to Manhattan. The people in NYC can find other places to live and work; the place they currently contaminate with their buildings and streets and sewers etc USED to be pristine "wetlands" and were almost certainly home to many endangered species.

Once society decides to place a nuclear plant (or a city) on a particular site then the best thing would be to permanently use that site for that purpose.

Re:How many trillion would it cost to return (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 8 months ago | (#46875709)

Once society decides to place a nuclear plant (or a city) on a particular site then the best thing would be to permanently use that site for that purpose.

that makes me wonder, if 1 plant is decommissioned and turned into a long term storage facility for nuclear waste, how much capacity would it have? could part of the storage problem simply be resolved by using space reclaimed from one reactor to house the waste of a great number of other reactors.

Re:Why is this happening? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875295)

concrete does not contain this stuff. Have you ever taken a basic physics course? Understand the second law of thermodynamics? Try to contain matter, and at the same time, conduct the energy that that matter is radiating. . . . all the while, the chemical properties of that matter are changing as-you-go. Good luck with that.

It's a government contract job. (1, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 8 months ago | (#46874785)

Of course it is going to be wildly expensive and take forever. Plus, it will be over budget, over due, and a basic cock-up because the government takes the lowest bidder regardless of past performance.

Re:It's a government contract job. (2)

mellon (7048) | about 8 months ago | (#46874849)

No, Rowe was not a government plant.

Re:It's a government contract job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874889)

Also keep in mind it's basically illegal to reprocess and re-use the fuel, so it has to be stored somewhere. Yucca Mountain is full. Everyone screams NIMBY but wants power.

Re:It's a government contract job. (2)

confused one (671304) | about 8 months ago | (#46875003)

uh, slight correction... Yucca Mountain is empty because of the people screaming NIMBY. It was shut down before receiving the first shipment of waste.

Re:It's a government contract job. (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 months ago | (#46875203)

More like BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone

Re:It's a government contract job. (3, Funny)

Tailhook (98486) | about 8 months ago | (#46875115)

Yucca Mountain is full

Ok. Whatever source of information has led you to that belief ...... never go back there. Just don't. They've messed you up and you must get away from them.

Seriously.

In fact there is no waste inside Yucca mountain. Zero.

The only thing we've stored in Yucca mountain is bullshit from Harry Reid and the libtard moonbeamers that run this pathetic romper room country. We keep it there because he is old and when he dies we'll need a continuing supply Harry Reid's bullshit to keep the system running. There is enough bullshit stored in Yucca mountain to keep the system operating for approximately 20 years, during which time we will have to develop a new source of bullshit and transition our system to this new bullshit supply.

Re:It's a government contract job. (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 months ago | (#46875305)

Obviously you are opposed to state rights, extremely opposed to state rights, at a guess this would make you politically schizophrenic (you are aware it was the state that opposed the facility). If you are going to have a national nuclear waste facility obviously the state affected has to approve it and all states affected by transport of the extremely dangerous material will have to approve the transport of that material through their state. One person has very little outcome on the issue, failure to achieve consensus is a nation wide failure at state and federal level. It seems the bullshit is nation wide and chaotic and prevents any reasonable outcome with regards to pretty much anything. So it would seem you are also contributing.

Nuclear costs way too much (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874797)

The costs associated with Nuclear energy are always downplayed.

The truth is we have no coherent plan of what to do with the waste products. Lots of good ideas, but that ain't a plan.

Not to mention when things go wrong, it is VERY wrong.

Re:Nuclear costs way too much (0)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#46875099)

costs are downplayed because they count technical costs and not political gridlock costs.

it's still profitable for the companies paying it all though, so there's that.

why don't we keep them and use them? (5, Interesting)

valpo homeboy (3552227) | about 8 months ago | (#46874805)

How about a study on the cost of upgrading? All that infrastructure, real estate, containment vessel, gen set, distribution hardware, cooling .... has to be worth something? How about reprocessing the fuel to reduce its volume and remove the plutonium? I agree with first poster, killing each and every lawyer peripherally involved with the project is the first step.

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (5, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 8 months ago | (#46875071)

By the time they decommission a reactor it is usually 30 or 40 years old. By that point everything is worn out. You could save some hardware and infrastructure; but, you would be replacing most of the equipment, including all the expensive bits. You'd basically end up tearing it all out and rebuilding it new. Car analogy: I'm restoring a 40 year old truck. Engine had to be torn down to raw casting and rebuilt with all new parts (only I didn't have to deal with neutron damage or metal embrittlement) The truck chassis and body: Well, I'm tearing everything off the frame and I'm starting from there. It will all get disassembled, cleaned, repaired and painted, then go back through a complete re-assembly process using factory manuals. When I'm done, it'll be a 30-40% new 40 year old truck. If you count my time at typical shop labor rates, it could end up costing almost as much as just going down to the dealer and stroking a check for a brand new one. The new one would probably be safer...

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (2)

Accordion Noir (1256202) | about 8 months ago | (#46875491)

Man, I was changing a flat on my bike the other day and ran into that neutron damage thing. I decided to walk.

(This comment has nothing to contribute really.)

Time and material (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#46875577)

You must be cheap labour, Bangladesh rates? A typical restoration costs way more in time and material than an equivalent new vehicle would cost. Not only that, you'd be left with an inefficient design that wouldn't benefit from 30-40 years of improvements in efficiency and safety. This applies both to cars and nuclear power plants. What you *could* do however is use the same location (providing it's a safe location according to current standards) and share spent fuel facilities and such. That way you would save money by building your new plant right next to the old one and only have a few decommissioned buildings on the site and re-use what is smart/cheaper to reuse.

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | about 8 months ago | (#46875077)

In addition to the lawyers you'd have to kill a significant percentage of environmentalists, plus all the NIMBYs. The real issue isn't decommissioning costs, the real issue is the inability to build new reactors. If it wasn't for the public/political aversion to nuclear reactors, you could decommission the place, build a modern one right beside it, and use the leftover waste to power the new reactor.

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875141)

Hmm.. thats a win-win situation then. When do we start?

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 8 months ago | (#46875153)

Which is ironic because nuclear fallout preserves nature but wipes out mankind from the lands. Given that these environmentalists are anti human civilization, you would think they would be all over nuclear energy.

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875171)

You're thinking rational. They never were to begin with.

Re:why don't we keep them and use them? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 8 months ago | (#46875085)

A lawyer can't make you do anything. I once had a business partner who froze like a deer in headlights whenever our lawyer opened his mouth. As I said to him, the lawyer's job is to advise you of the trouble you might get into; but there's always *something* to be concerned about; it's *your* job to make a decision and shoulder the consequences. Business people choose which risks to take, and lawyers help them figure out what those risks are, simple as that. If your plans go kaplooie, it's your fault; possibly for hiring the wrong lawyer, or possibly hiring the right lawyer but letting him run your business for you.

This "it's all the lawyer's fault" business is childish baloney. It's not lawyers that keep owners from continuing to use these old reactors, it's the fact that these reactors are old and obsolete. It's not lawyers that made decommissioning the plants more expensive than projected, it's that nobody had ever done such a thing when the costs were estimated, and everyone chose a best case scenario in their plans because they wanted to see the things built. That's a *business* mistake, and an engineering mistake, but unless the lawyer was telling them they'd be able to cart their waste off to the town dump it's not a *legal* mistake.

Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (3, Informative)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46874809)

This is a solid fuel water cooled reactor problem. Ok, that's 95% of current reactors, but there are many alternatives.
We must see all water cooled, solid fuel reactors as a legacy.
LFTR Molten salt reactors running primarily on Thorium could take 3% of it's fuel as spent nuclear fuel from water cooled reactors are fission that completely (99%). There is so much nuclear energy on accumulated depleted uranium and spent nuclear fuel to produce a trillion dollars worth of electricity.
Remember, it's not nuclear waste, its mostly unburned fuel, a result of extremely inefficient solid fuel reactors cooled by water.

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 months ago | (#46875215)

> a result of extremely inefficient solid fuel reactors cooled by water

, a design which was chosen over thorium reactor designs because thorium reactors do not produce any significant amount of "waste" plutonium required for nuclear weapons production.

Fixed that incomplete thought for you.

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (3, Informative)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875395)

The true reasons for the MSR project at ORNL (Oak Ridge National Labs) being cancelled look more like this:

It was never a mainstream project. Dr. Alvin Weinberg got funding for his idea due to ORNL being the sole responder to USAF demand for a nuclear powered bomber in the 60s. They managed to do their thing kind of under the radar, I believe other nuclear guys thought they would never be successful, so when he showed he was (MSRE 5MW test reactor ran for 22000 hrs) and he asked for real money to do the whole thing, then he got shot down.

Only ORNL was researching into Thorium, all other nuclear labs were working on fast uranium/plutonium breeders.
The thing about other reactors being better for Plutonium production is a very big misconception that conflates reactor grade plutonium and weapons grade plutonium. Weapons grade plutonium has always been produced by irradiating lots of U-238 with a fairly small dose of neutrons, to avoid double irradiation of U-238 atoms (leading to Pu-240). Conceivably weapons grade plutonium can even be produced by placing a blanket of U-238 around any existing reactor (catching only neutron losses). Any reactor will do. But today it's way easier to obtain highly enriched U-235 instead. Reactor grade plutonium = premature detonation or nuclear artifacts becoming duds in storage, both a huge problem. Too much Pu-240 and Pu-241. Pu-239 does simple alpha decays, while Pu-240 has spontaneous fission probability.

Plus the main fast breeder research site was in Southern California, right where Richard Nixon was from (exactly when the ORNL Thorium project was cancelled and officially buried). There is a very complete video about this on youtube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46875219)

The data I've seen suggests that Thorium reactors are still somewhat experimental. That's ok, everything is experimental before it becomes real; but it seems wise to try them out on a small scale before switching fully to Thorium. Fortunately, China is doing exactly that, so we should have a lot deeper understanding of Thorium soon.

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (4, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | about 8 months ago | (#46875293)

The Slashdot frenzy for Thorium reactors which do not exist anywhere in the world, except as a hypothetical, is constantly astounding. It's nigh-equivalent to denying the round Earth, evolution, or global warming. Sure, they may exist "soon" if your definition of "soon" is on the order of a century. India has had a 3-stage plan for Thorium reactors since the 1950's and they're currently about halfway through that plan, according to its handlers:

"According to replies given in Q&A in the Indian Parliament on two separate occasions, 19 August 2010 and 21 March 2012, large scale thorium deployment is only to be expected “3 – 4 decades after the commercial operation of fast breeder reactors with short doubling time”.[66][31] Full exploitation of India’s domestic thorium reserves will likely not occur until after the year 2050.[67]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India%27s_three-stage_nuclear_power_programme [wikipedia.org]

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875401)

Thorium molten salt reactors were tested in the 60s/70s, achieving 22000 hrs of trouble free operation. Got cancelled by Richard Nixon because the lab researching it wasn't from his home area (south Cali). Plus they didn't wanted advanced nuclear power to succeed, since inefficient nuclear power was enough of a threat to mighty american coal and Oil in general. Most great research projects outside of wartime are meant to take a long time. Employ a lot of people, give profits to pork&barrel govt suppliers. Much like Fusion research. God forbid ORNL / Dr. Alvin Weinberg managed to run a test reactor program with less than 1% of the total nuclear research budget, would put all other nuclear research labs in a serious existential risk. Yes, the project was a victim of its own success.
Much like SpaceX and Tesla today. SpaceX is putting the mighty ULA enterprise at risk. Tesla could put Detroit snails pace innovation at risk in a decade.
Just a few of the ideas I'm a fan of.
Molten Salt: Why it didn't happen:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 8 months ago | (#46875671)

You do realize that the US is not the only country in the world with nuclear labs, right?

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#46875319)

I am pretty skeptical molten salt reactors are going to be cheaper to decommission. Liquid anything is going to contaminate whatever it's stored in more or less permanently. The real issue is almost certainly that we simply haven't been doing enough decommissions (because we keep extending the license and operating periods) for any sort of standard practice to really emerge. A decent fuel reprocessing industry would help a lot, because at least you could ship the rods somewhere and remove radioactive materials from the site - which would make everything else a lot easier.

Re:Increase fuel burnup and this becomes cheap ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875419)

No, that's 100% of current reactors.

There is no such thing as a "LFTR Molten Salt Reactor" fairy. It is a theoretical construct. Only ONE reactor has demonstrated even PART of this method. (and it had multiple accidents - though - that's part of being experimental).

That's all I really have to say on this. I keep constantly reading about this magical liquid floride or sodium salt reactors, as if it's the new magical technology that will save humanity, when this was the SAME EXACT kind of thinking that led us to boiling water reactors. Let's have some proven designs first. In YOUR back yard.

Nuclear power is too expensive (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 8 months ago | (#46874811)

I'm not against nuclear power per se but the more I learn the more it seems that it's just too expensive and won't be able to compete with other forms of power production. Many blame anti-nuke and environmental activists for the fact that no nuclear plants have been built in the US since the 1970's but I think most of the reason was that it was just too expensive compared to coal plants and now natural gas plants. They still can't be built without government guarantees for the loans to build them and government subsidies for liability insurance. I don't see how they're going to bring the cost down enough to be competitive.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (0, Troll)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 8 months ago | (#46874825)

All the NIMBY types and loud anti-nuke folks have made sure it's too expensive.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (1)

mellon (7048) | about 8 months ago | (#46874867)

Rowe was constructed before there were widespread protests against nuclear power, and it was still too expensive. The problem is that large portions of the plant are radioactive, so you can't just pound them to dust and put them in a landfill the way you would a similar concrete structure that wasn't radioactive.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 8 months ago | (#46875315)

Rowe was constructed before there were widespread protests against nuclear power, and it was still too expensive.

If 1960s technology wasn't good enough, we may as well give up. That's what I always say.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874871)

You got it. I presume the reason the fuel rods are still there is because the government keeps preventing people from building proper storage... but, hey, that's not the government's fault, it's the company that runs the reactor!

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874945)

physics makes it expensive
greedy utilities and a cheerleading nrc downplay the cost
untill that cost can no longer be ignored.

rinse and repeat since "Atoms for Peace" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoms_for_Peace), which was a sneaky way to both proliferate and get lots of fuel burned for reprocessing of PL.

No (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875183)

"physics" does not make it expensive, mis-guided political activists, their lawyers, and the "soccer-moms" they scare make it expensive.

Nuclear power is actually remarkably simple and straight-forward. If you want extreme safety and are willing to sacrifice some efficiency, then you can even build a nuclear generator with no moving parts and that is incapable of melting down (ever hear of an RTG? the Voyager probes? ring any bells?). As for waste disposal: nuclear fuel is remarkably dense and as a result, it does not take much space to store it. You could store all the spent fuel rods the US has ever generated and all the rods we'll likely use over the next century in an area the size of a football field. Nothing says you have to store that in salt mines - you sould store it in sealed casks above ground with continual monitoring for leaks and automated systems to transfer the waste of any leaking cask to a new one (perhaps less hands-off than the bury-and-forget model, but still not a major burden). Of course the very radioactivity of "spent" fuel that makes so many ignorant people afraid of it is the plain evidence that it should not be disposed of at all; it's still FULL of usable energy that can be obtained by re-processing the rods. If you actually consume all the energy available (by use, re-processing, use, re-processing, etc), then the "spent" fuel would no longer be highly radioactive (duh).

If we used only a small portion of the energy available in another source and then fussed about how to store all the "spent" material, we'd be nuts. Nobody could operate a car if all the "spent" fuel had to be captured and stored for a thousand years to "save the planet". If we treated all the toxic effects of ANY other power source with the same level of paranoia, we'd all move back into caves and give-up on that crazy new-fangled "fire" stuff that some people recklessly use to stay warm and cook food. Wanna store all the tailings of a rare-earth minerals mine as a "cost" of operating wind farm?

As for safety: Nobody has ever died from a nuclear power accident in the U.S. The same cannot be said for any other industrial-scale power source - people in the petroleum industry die every year, same for coal - we've even had people killed in wind farms. Fatalities at Chernobyl simply cannot be used as a mark against US nuclear - no plant like Chernobyl would have ever been built in the U.S.

Re:No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875557)

Nuclear power is actually remarkably simple and straight-forward.

I'm not sure if every person who died from radiation would have said this. You should study your history.

ever hear of an RTG? the Voyager probes? ring any bells?

lol. Voyager-1 is 19,097,733,531 KM away right now. I think that's a safe distance. Why don't you crank up an RTG in your garage and report back on the safety? (oh, sorry, I didn't realize that Big Brother would protect you from yourself. It's not as if the US Government doesn't have any experience in dealing with these materials).

You could store all the spent fuel rods the US has ever generated and all the rods we'll likely use over the next century in an area the size of a football field

wat.

I suppose the accuracy of your statement depends on how high you stack it.
70,000 metric tons? http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0322/The-nuclear-waste-problem-Where-to-put-it

I dunno dude.

you sould store it in sealed casks above ground with continual monitoring for leaks and automated systems to transfer the waste of any leaking cask to a new one

In fact, this is the only known-safe method. Of course, nobody's proven it over the 20,000 years or so that will be required, but the most dangerous radioactivity is over the first 100 years. And it's not just radioactivity, it's emissions of byproducts that are the real issue.

it's still FULL of usable energy that can be obtained by re-processing the rods.

. . . depending on your definition of usable. If you're an avid science fiction fan, YES, that energy is absolutely usable.

What are you proposing? Just surround all the waste with thermocouples? The energy you'll capture is a tiny fraction of what you'd capture if you just built PV panels in the first place, and laid them out in the sun. The most expensive part of that, is the cost of labor to connect copper cables. How expensive is the labor for installing thermocouples around nuclear waste? Oh, that's right - you can't estimate that, because if you put a worker that close to nuclear waste to install energy capture devices, they'll absorb their lifetime dose of radiation in the space of a few days, and you'll need to go get another batch of workers. How well do you train these workers? Oh, that's a cost. Factor that it, and compare it to the money you make over the lifespan of that worker. It's not feasible.

Nobody could operate a car if all the "spent" fuel had to be captured and stored for a thousand years to "save the planet".

They would if it was an electric car, powered by solar PV.

As for safety: Nobody has ever died from a nuclear power accident in the U.S.

Again: learn your history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SL-1

Wanna store all the tailings of a rare-earth minerals mine as a "cost" of operating wind farm?

Why not? they're trying to factor in the cost of all the bird deaths (when things like glass windows, or domestic cats, kill several more orders of magnatude of birds)

no plant like Chernobyl would have ever been built in the U.S

If they put you in charge, I'm SURE that would be the case.

But history actually proves your statement wrong.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphite_moderated_reactor#Types

Re:No (4, Informative)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875575)

For every person that died from radiation, 10000 died from coal and 100 died from hydro dam bursting.
Get your numbers straight.
Coal alone kills 200k / yr worldwide, 13k / yr in USA.
Hydro killed 170k in a single incident in China in the 70s. It kills hundreds yearly even disregarding that horrible event in China.
Nuclear is the safest energy source in the world. Look up the numbers.

Looking only at civilian nuclear accidents (including mining, transportation, processing, fuel preparation plus reactors), nuclear power have killed less than 1000 people ever, worldwide.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875597)

Tell ya what.

If NIMBY is your issue, why don't we just divest all property-owners of their land, and do whatever the fuck "we" want (as a society). Because that worked out so well for the USSR.

Re:Nuclear power is too expensive (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 8 months ago | (#46875441)

Many blame anti-nuke and environmental activists for the fact that no nuclear plants have been built in the US since the 1970's but I think most of the reason was that it was just too expensive

It's possible that the activists made building one too expensive. I'm all for doing things safely, but committee meeting, after committee meeting starts to costs real dollars (which is why the activists insist on their being so many).

It is expensive and it always will be. (2, Informative)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 8 months ago | (#46874857)

Nuclear power has always been a pipe dream of some sort. Once it was "power so cheap we won't even bother to meter it". The fact of the matter is cleaning up a mixed bag of uranium, plutonium, and whatever isotopes is a complicated matter that costs a shitload of money. The pie-in-the-sky promoters of nuclear energy have always underplayed the costs. No reactor has ever been built under budget. No clean-up has been under budget. It is just incredibly expensive to build, operate, and decommission a nuke plant. The promoters just don't want to deal with realistic figures. And, then there is the cost of disposing of the spent fuel....

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (5, Informative)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46874893)

Spent fuel is 96% fuel. Combined with the depleted uranium its 99% fuel. It just takes a more efficient reactor to burn it.
Nuclear energy is orders of magnitude environmentally cleaner even than natural gas.
The main issue is nuclear regulators decided to make it economically unfeasible to to nuclear power.
Learn about it and you will find out you are wrong.
https://class.coursera.org/nuc... [coursera.org]

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875069)

it's environmentally cleaner IF you don't consider radioactive waste to be anything other than clean.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

mellon (7048) | about 8 months ago | (#46875235)

Oh for fuck's sake, can we please stop talking about "burning" nuclear fuel? It doesn't burn. It fissions, releasing heat and neutrons. If you're going to be pro-nuke, at least learn the science. Given that Project Orion never took off, it's not rocket science, either.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (3, Interesting)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875301)

I just complete an introductory course to nuclear technology, they say burn fuel, burnup ratio all the time. Technically is wrong, but even nuclear engineers talk about burning nuclear fuel.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 8 months ago | (#46874935)

Once it was "power so cheap we won't even bother to meter it".

No one ever said that about fission reactors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

In fact the early people working on nuclear fission largely agreed that U-235 fission power was just a way to justify a large scale nuclear weapons program. Fast forward 60 years and that's still mostly true.

Real nuclear advancement will require development of more efficient reprocessing infrastructure and breeder reactors.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 8 months ago | (#46874973)

Your claim that "no one ever said that" is preposterous on the face of it. How do you know no one ever said that? Around 1962 I toured the under-construction Fermi power plant in Detroit Michigan. This is a fast breeder fission plant. The tour guide informed the tour group that nuclear power was going to be so cheap to produce that it wouldn't even make sense to meter it. The tour guide may have been misquoting Strauss, but I remember those very words from that day, so don't tell me no one ever said that about a fission reactor.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (2)

c6gunner (950153) | about 8 months ago | (#46875109)

The tour guide may have been misquoting Strauss, but I remember those very words from that day, so don't tell me no one ever said that about a fission reactor.

You're right, random, poorly informed people said it. And are apparently still saying it. Good job on calling him out - we need more pedants on slashdot.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875149)

A tour guide is not a "random, poorly informed" person, he's an official mouthpiece of the plant. If a tour guide said it, he was either told to say it, or it was so commonly said among his peers that he felt comfortable saying it. Either way it doesn't matter.

"Strauss gave no public hint at the time that he was referring to fusion reactors because of the classified nature of Project Sherwood and the press naturally took his prediction regarding cheap electricity to apply to conventional fission reactors." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Strauss)

In the absence of an alternative referent, it is very reasonable to view Strauss's statement as applying to fission. Whether or not he intended this as propaganda, it effectively propagated the misunderstanding. The criticism of "too cheap to meter" stands.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 8 months ago | (#46875245)

Thank you AC. Well said.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (0)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 8 months ago | (#46875617)

A tour guide is not an official anything except an 'official guy who shows people around on tours'.

Anyway, people use that misquote when they mean to say, "See, we were lied to about fission power!" and in that sense the usage is bogus since no one who was seriously advocating the adoption of fission power in the government used that phrase to further their cause.

Now you made me explain something that should be obvious to anyone who can English. Thanks for wasting both of our time.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875697)

>Now you made me explain something that should be obvious to anyone who can English.

Apparently you can't English very well since you didn't understand the above. There was NO REFERENT other than fission!! Whether any one intended to advocate fission or not, that was the ONLY REFERENT at the time; therefore it was, DE FACTO, advocacy of fission. Perhaps you have psychic powers that allow you to grok what people mean, notwithstanding what they actually say, but for the rest of us humans, we have to rely on what they actually say, in the contemporaneous context. It is intellectually dishonest for you to project backward in time to imply that people did know, or should have known that he wasn't talking about fission.

If you have sufficient evidence that his true meaning was or should have been widely known, I would like to know about it. In the absence of that, you're just making shit up.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

quenda (644621) | about 8 months ago | (#46875083)

Once it was "power so cheap we won't even bother to meter it".

No one ever said that about fission reactors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

And it does not mean free. You would pay a flat monthly fee based on the max supply (e.g. 100A) like your internet connection may be now.
Interestingly, increasing PV solar power is also driving things in that direction. Already, a huge portion of the costs of electricty companies are fixed by capacity, not marginal kwHr costs. So homes with rooftop solar power have their grid power (e.g. nighttime) subsidised by others.

Re:It is expensive and it always will be. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46875225)

Once it was "power so cheap we won't even bother to meter it".

Now that's actually something worth researching towards. Imagine what we could do with such plentiful electricity.....

France: 75% of electricity from nuclear ... (5, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#46875299)

Nuclear power has always been a pipe dream of some sort.

Not in France.

"France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This is due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.
France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this.
France has been very active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are a major export.
It is building its first Generation III reactor.
About 17% of France's electricity is from recycled nuclear fuel."
http://www.world-nuclear.org/i... [world-nuclear.org]

Re:France: 75% of electricity from nuclear ... (3, Insightful)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875581)

Damn right. The main reason Nuclear isn't truly strong in USA, Germany or the UK is they have lots of coal and/or natural gas. The correlation is extremely strong.
But even then, there are dozens of countries producing over 1/3 of their electricity from nuclear. Many use reactors to both produce electricity and provide district heating.

4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#46874873)

The plant's spent fuel rods are still stored in a facility on-site, because there is no permanent disposal repository to put them in. To monitor them and make sure the material does not fall into the hands of terrorists or spill into the nearby river costs $8 million per year.

4th generation reactors can use this material as fuel and the new waste created will only be dangerous for hundreds of years rather than tens of thousands.

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875091)

Only hundreds of years, yes, that's good. Let's see, where did we put that stuff we threw away in 1776? Only a few hundred years ago...

I must say, however, this is still relatively good news, as trying to protect this stuff for tens of thousands of years is a bit expensive...and impossible. A few hundred years is just out of the economic reach of anyone, but at least in many generations it will not be dangerous.

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46875459)

For hundreds of years Yucca Mountain would be more than sufficient. Make synth-stone (or whatever it's called) bricks out of the nasty waste just so it's extra stable and you can just keep filling the caverns - nothing will migrate far enough in a few hundred years to be an issue. You could get away with something a lot less stable as well, *if* you were 100% committed to not letting any long-lived waste get stored there.

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 8 months ago | (#46875585)

While the trillion tons of CO2 we put in the atmosphere is still haunting us. At least radioactivity decays away. As well as the millions of tons of lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium from burning coal.
Being anti nuclear today = being pro coal. As simple as that. Only those in favor of all non fossil fuels are really anti coal and anti natural gas.

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875133)

>4th generation reactors can use this material as fuel
> and the new waste created will only be dangerous for
> hundreds of years rather than tens of thousands.

Citation, please?

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#46875237)

>4th generation reactors can use this material as fuel
> and the new waste created will only be dangerous for
> hundreds of years rather than tens of thousands.

Citation, please?

"Relative to current nuclear power plant technology, the claimed benefits for 4th generation reactors include:
Nuclear waste that remains radioactive for a few centuries instead of millennia
100-300 times more energy yield from the same amount of nuclear fuel
The ability to consume existing nuclear waste in the production of electricity
Improved operating safety"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875277)

>"the claimed benefits"

Wow, you call that a citation? I'm willing to believe that safe/efficient nuclear tech is possible, but Wikipedia is NOT an authoritative source. Got anything better? Maybe a quote from an unbiased nuclear engineer? Respected NGO? Anything?

Re:4th gen reactors can use current waste as fuel (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 8 months ago | (#46875463)

>"the claimed benefits"

Wow, you call that a citation? I'm willing to believe that safe/efficient nuclear tech is possible, but Wikipedia is NOT an authoritative source. Got anything better? Maybe a quote from an unbiased nuclear engineer? Respected NGO? Anything?

The word "claimed" was an appeasement to the nuclear deniers, to avoid an edit war erupting on that page. Don't read too much into it.

The citation above was just the first thing googled and reflects a consensus among qualified scientists and engineers. I did some more googling for you ...

Click on the links for the various reactor types: https://www.gen-4.org/gif/jcms... [gen-4.org]

"First the EM2 core will be started using 12% enriched uranium and used fuel or depleted uranium (DU). After the initial U235 amount has been consumed in the “starter-part” of the core, enough fissionable material will have been created to switch over to a second part of the core where the nuclear reactions will continue and be fed nuclear waste.."
http://meteolcd.wordpress.com/... [wordpress.com]

"The scientific method requires that we keep an open mind and change our conclusions when new evidence indicates that we should. Climate change is the new evidence affecting the nuclear debate -- we need low-carbon energy. Current (2nd generation) nuclear reactors are not as fail-safe as possible and they burn less than one percent of the energy in uranium ore. Next (3rd) generation reactors are safer, shutting down automatically in case of anomalies, and are ready to go, but they still leave 99 percent of the energy in long-lived waste piles. 4th generation reactors, tested but not commercially available, can extract all of the energy in the nuclear fuel and burn nuclear waste. We urgently need R&D to make the combination of 3rd and 4th generation reactors available with comprehensive international controls.
James E. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University."
http://www.thesciencecouncil.c... [thesciencecouncil.com]

Careful with your NGOs. Some are nuclear deniers that are as purely political and scientifically unfounded as the climate deniers. The climate deniers and nuclear deniers differ only in their political allegiance, they abuse of and rejection of science are quite similar.

In other news (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46874927)

Hoover Dam cost $49m to build. Today, the price tag would be over $10b. Stuff gets more expensive over the years. Today the power plant produces 4.2TWh per annum. At $100/MWh, that's $420,000,000 of power per year. Kind of significant ROI.

The bottom line is, long term projects like nuclear or hydro will always cost massively more in the future than today simply because of inflation. This is another reason why these are strategic assets to invest in.

As for decommissioning of nuclear power? It sits there for a few decades with a few guards on duty. Then you haul it away and melt it down and make new steel out of it.

Now, how much would it cost to decommission our coal and oil facilities?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... [wikimedia.org]

Sorry, but waiting for some nuclear isotopes to decay vs. literal, irreversible destruction of entire ecosystems is kind of cheap to me.

PS. And worrying about "terrists" getting waste products from nuclear plant is crazy. You can't do anything with it! You might as well start panicing about all the radioactive Americium in each smoke detector.

lets put this more in perspective (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 8 months ago | (#46874931)

counting for inflation to 2007 dollars it took 267.7 million to build, not to mention the safety risk of disassembling an irradiated environment that probably had every square inch covered in asbestos and lead paint, in the day and age where a contractor cant even scrape a window sill without getting it lab tested ...

Re:lets put this more in perspective (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#46875261)

Yup, I was going to say CPI calculator says $39M in 1965 == $293M in 2014.

It could be a lot cheaper (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#46874991)

If nuclear plants were held to the radiation standards of coal plants and if fuel reprocessing had actually been implemented, it would be a lot cheaper.

Re:It could be a lot cheaper (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#46875477)

Quite so, though I'm not so sure it's the nuclear plants we should be changing the standards for...

MEXICO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875017)

Send the waste to Mexico! Win! Win!

responsibily invested... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875019)

that 39 million dollars earmarked back in the early 60s would easily pay the full current cost in today's dollars at today's prices.... so what's the problem? they ONLY HAVE that 39 million today? 40 years later? wtf?

And by the same rules, decomissioning a solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875093)

plant will cost a hundred billion trillion gazillion dollars (yikes! - the sort of numbers children use to mean "really really big")

You see, it does not actually take that long or cost that much to dismantle a reactor; The U.S. government does it all the time with retired nuclear powered ships and submarines. The navy decomissionings are still artificially inflated by govt regs and so-forth but because the govt wants them for national security it limits the interference by "activists" and the activists themselves spend less time fighing those fights which they know the government will not let them win - plus the people who'd eat the extra artificial costs are the taxpayers and not some "evil" corporation who the activists get pleasure from attacking. The reason the costs and time required are so incredibly huge is that anti-nuclear activists (and their armies of lawyers) have used every single legal and political opportunity they could possibly find to MAKE this stuff expensive and time consuming.... which suits their anti-nuke agenda even further because they then point to the costs they themselves inflated as further evidence that nuke==bad, and nuke==expensive. If there were big international organizations and armies of ignorant-but-easily-razzed-up "activists" who were equally anti-solar power there would be an un-ending barrage of legal and political challenges over every aspect of the siting, construction, operation, and de-domissioning or solar plants. The legal actions would drive-up the costs of solar so high that nobody would want to use it... companies would fear building solar facilities for fear of decades-long fights over sighting, the potential that activists could use lawsuits to shut the plants down before they even "broke even", and potentially unlimited lawsuits and liability over the chemicals used to make the panels, and the disposal of old panels (the groundwater contamination alone might "last a million years!", they'd scream).

When society makes decisions about what tech to use, those decisions should be based on REAL numbers, not artificially and politically inflated numbers applied to only certain options - such manipulations can lead to the selection of sub-optimal solutions just so some protest group can be "happy" or some connected industry can get subsidies.

Re:And by the same rules, decomissioning a solar (2)

mellon (7048) | about 8 months ago | (#46875253)

Nuclear subs are made of metal. Nuclear plants are made of metal and concrete. Radioactive metal is (relatively) easy to deal with. Radioactive concrete, not so much. I can't recall any anti-nuclear activist getting involved in regulating the de-commissioning of nuclear plants. I think you are just talking through your hat.

Maine Yankee's decommisioning (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 8 months ago | (#46875139)

From Wikipedia:

The eight-year $500 million decommissioning process spanned from 1997 until 2005.[6] In 2000, the first structures were gutted out by workers. In 2003, the reactor pressure vessel was shipped to Barnwell, South Carolina via barge. Finally, in 2004, the facility's containment building was brought down by explosives.

Maine Yankee shut down after about 25 years of operation due to significant deficiencies and cost to correct them. Younger, but no one seems to claim that decom was easier because it was younger.

nuclear benefits (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 8 months ago | (#46875197)

After all, it seems the only advantage of nuclear energy was to avoid emitting greenhouse gas (which is a big advantage). It is not cheap, and as usual, the cost overhead will not be payed by the one that benefited from selling it once.

The estimates were correct (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46875269)

The estimates assumed current regulations, a minimum of graft, and a reasonable place to put the spent fuel.

Those are reasonable assumptions. We could decommission these plants for the cited price. It would require doing things efficiently however...

Given that for political reasons we can't do anything efficiently... just take all prices cited by government offices and assume conflicting regulations will slow everything down, the majority of all money spent will be stolen, and that when complete whatever it is won't actually work properly.

Because that's how we do things now.

It took us 4 years to build the golden gate bridge... now it takes us 15 years to decommission a power plant.

Its pathetic. Queue some witless fucktard that is going to defend the decay, the delay, the incompetence, and the waste. Let me stop you right there. It is people like your inevitable self that make this situation even possible. If people like you kept your mouths shut then maybe just maybe the system could be shamed into doing its actual job. But you won't be quiet. Sure sure... keep it up... we can't stop you from shitting all over everything. But it doesn't mean we ever forget things were better and could be again.

Yankee Fuel Elements. (1)

Solomonscouncil (3142189) | about 8 months ago | (#46875289)

It is hard to understand how we have arrived at this point. When we were developing the shipping containers for the spent elements we made it a simple process with simple tools. Normal trucks could be loaded with existing equipment. The thermal heat was to dissipated by the same type of radiators that were used in schools and office buildings. The cask crash frame was specked to survive a drop test from several floors. Every one in the Lab wished they could have one at home. No more heating bills for sure. Others argued that they could be used for Aquaculture in cold climates. Since the dimension's and materials are well known, it should be a fairly simple industrial process to salvage and reprocess the spent elements without endangering life. The problem is that a closed loop energy source like this could destroy the fossil fuel industry. BTW, I was one of the Lab Techs building and operating rig's to gather heat transfer data.

wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875377)

These comments are a bunch of ignorant crap.

First: Yucca Mt. was not stopped because of NIMBY-ism. It was stopped because it was found to be technically infeasible. This was learned by studying the spread of contained waste at Hanford, and some of the same issues will occur in Yucca Mt. Since that time, a similar storage facility in New Mexico; WIPP, just had a major accident last year. This "disposal" technology is, unfortunately NOT proven. Leaving it on site at each plant, is, unfortunately, the ONLY "proven" disposal method.

Second: The original costs were determined based on past costs, in smaller test labs and NOT 40-year-old production sites. These costs do not account for things like; oh our steam generator tubes fractured and spewed actual, deadly radiation through the whole primary cooling system (SONGS). Or; after routine use, damaged fuel rods (which is the case at Fukushima; even BEFORE the accident). Or even cases like the Humbolt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, where they spent $1 million, JUST investigating the loss of three fuel rods. (they still don't know where these rods went - maybe a bookkeeping error? oh well. Just some fuel rods, eh?)

I know that when I started my career, I was not very good at estimating how many hours I would spend on a given task. After years of experience, I learned how long things really took, I applied that experience in my estimates, and I'm much more accurate now. Sample-size matters. (and so does process). And both of these apply, in the case of estimating costs of decomissioning nuclear reactors; and dispositioning waste. Unfortunately, in the latter case, because we don't have experience in successful waste disposal, we're stuck with hundreds of thousands of tons of the stuff. Sitting out; pretty much our safest known option at this point.

uh, wait (1)

samantha (68231) | about 8 months ago | (#46875425)

First, are we talking inflation adjusted dollars? Second, a large part of the problem is the continued ever since the 70s anti-nuclear power hysteria. This has greatly inflated costs, danger estimates, required procedures and so on. It is also why we have no spend fuel repository although we no several ways to create a quite good one. And it is also why all forms of breeder reactors, even those not good for making weapon grade materials, were killed. That move means there is around 20x more "nuclear waste" than there would otherwise be as 95% of it would have been used in a breeder. Lastly it is why we can't build any more modern designs that are much safer and more efficient. Even though nuclear with the antiquated designs has a three orders of magnitude better safety record in terms of number of deaths per TwH generated than coal and two orders of magnitude better than oil and gas.

So don't let this railroad you to the wrong conclusion.

Stupid US government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46875607)

The Space Shuttle was a partial failure because it was a compromise. The military wanted a weapons platform. NASA wanted a research platform. What each got was a compromise. It wasn't really great as a weapons platform, and wasn't really great as a research platform. The US energy-from-nuclear strategy is a similar partial failure, except that its a more expensive one. The US government wanted a nuclear energy program that could be used to build things that go boom (big big boom!). They had the experimental reactors in the 1960's that were better at producing electricity, but no earth-shattering kaboom! They had reactors too that could make products that were really good at making the stuff for the kaboom, but they wanted electricity customers to pay for it, so the compromise. It was the US secretary of defence in (I think 1974) that put the final nail in the coffin for reactors that were really good at making power. Along with that, easy-to-recycle nuclear products, and by that I mean either 1) highly radioactive with a very short half life, you you keep it behind 4 meters of lead for 3 years, then its inert, or 2) its almost indistinguishable from background radiation, and if you ate it every day of your life, you would have less extra radiation in you than you would by living in a concrete rather than wood basement (concrete naturally gives off very small amounts of radiation). The high expense is needless and stupid and a bad compromise.

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