Tell me again..how safe is nuclear waste?


Lesley Stahl has a story up on the 60 minutes website that aired this past Sunday evening. Its about Hanford WA. home to the largest piece of radioactive real estate this side of Russia, 586 square miles. There the government stores its radioactive waste..waste that is as old as original Nagasaki bomb waste. Say it again..original Nagasaki radioactive bomb waste. From THAT bomb..you know the one..it helped end WWII. Hanford is located along the Columbia River.

Try this on for size: “There are 53 million gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste stored in underground tanks that are now so old they have leaked one million gallons of the stuff.”

Thats a sobering statistic. Its not denied by the government or any other entity.

Now that you have absorbed that stat..let me give you another one..The waste has leaked into the groundwater. It’s heading for the Colombia River. Over a million human beings live downstream of the Columbia River.

The government has grandiose plans for dealing with this toxic nightmare that has been around now for decades upon decades and growing. They been working on it for years..and years..and years..and I think you get my drift. 60 Minutes has been following the saga of the nuclear waste at Hanford for 16 years. Its only gotten worse.

The acronym FUBAR comes to mind. The plan was to move the waste into better built containers and then make glass logs out of it. Not a bad idea..if it works. They don’t really know if it will work..they won’t be able to try it out until the year….ready for this number?? The year 2018. Thats not all..the cost over runs,construction delays and the fact that the tanks weren’t built to the correct specs really makes you feel warm and fuzzy don’t they? Bechtel is a wonderful company..even if they did screw up the build of the tanks…AND get a very hefty $15 Million dollar bonus for building the faulty and bascially useless tanks. Lets reward mediocrity!!!!! Its the American Way..right? The boondoggles on this project just blow your mind. The promises to correct and move forward are treasonous lies and bullshit in my humble opinion. I haven’t even told you about the other screwups and lies and coverups..you need to read the writeup. I can’t bring myself to type them all out.

Leslie Stahl interviewed some of those lovely folks over at the Department of Energy for this latest twist in the ongoing soap opera that is Hanford’s nuclear waste problem. Its everyone’s problem, isn’t it? Of course I thank God that I do not live in that part of the United States. The government will have us all beleive they are doing the best they can. The governor of the state of WA, Christine Gregoire doesn’t believe the bullshit for one minute. Her quote from the article is sobering: “Let me tell you the story. 1989: They told me there was zero chance that there would be any leakage and ground water contamination. Sixteen years later, we have confirmed 67 leakers, groundwater contamination. I told them then, ‘Gravity works like this.’ And I’ll tell them again today: gravity means we are very vulnerable to the groundwater contamination and a plume that we now have moving towards the Columbia River, which is the lifeline of our Pacific Northwest,”

The final rub is this….the federal government wants to CUT the budget for the Hanford clean-up. They basically want to “walk away” from this mess they created that can become a huge ,catastrophic disaster of mythic proportions at any given time for the residents of WA state that reside along the Columbia River.

Tell me again how safe this shit is… If we can’t figure what to do with the millions of gallons of radioactive waste we already have..how can we call it a “safe, alternative energy source” with a straight face? We still don’t know how to deal with the left-overs sportsfans. The Nuclear Energy Institute can pay the former founder of Greenpeace and a former head of the EPA to talk up this crap up about “safe” nuclear power till the next millenium..I don’t care..I will never back nuclear energy until they figure out the disposal of it and show that it works. For me, signing off on nuclear power at this stage is tantamount to telling the residents along the Columbia River..we will get back to you on the Hanford site, but just sign off on this energy source..okey dokey?

Unless of course you don’t mind waiting 10,000 years to use the Columbia River when the “plume” of radioactive waste thats heading for it gets there. Don’t hand me the mumbo jumbo about nuclear plant waste being “less” toxic than the stuff at Hanford. It’s not the point. My point is its all toxic and deadly..and there is NO plan to deal with any of it that works. Thats the operative phase..No plan that has been shown to work. The priority should be to deal with the radioactive waste first. Not building more nuclear reactors and worrying about the waste later..thats called closing the barn door after the horse has run away.

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About Dusty, hells most vocal bitch

I am a..brown Cali bitch that is quite the opinionated,political, pain-in-the-ass, in your face kinda girl that also loves baseball and music to a fault. Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.--Albert Einstein-*

Posted on May 1, 2006, in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Nice new look!Thanks a lot, govt. I’m moving to Oregon when the time is right.What a glorious river the Columbia is. Typically, we have to foul it up.

  2. Eric McErlain

    Dusty,Saw what you want about Patrick Moore, but there is a significant difference between the waste stored at government facilities like Hanford, and the used nuclear fuel that is currently being stored safely in dry casks at reactor sites around the country.No one is going to question your anger about the situation at Hanford, but you need to keep in mind that these are defense-related wastes, and have nothing to do with the commercial nuclear generation of electric power.

  3. Eric..I don’t care how long you can store it..what do you DO with it besides store it? Its still radioactive correct? Yes, there is a difference between reactor waste and weapon waste if you wish to stand on a technicality. My point remains, there is no safe way to dispose of any nuclear waste, and make it “safe” and non-radioactive.

  4. And San Onofre..half of it has been dead for years and years..what is your industy going to do about that? Its leaking radioactive waste-water. Are you ever going to be able to tear it down? What are you going to DO with the dead reactor ? Why does it still sit there and leak? Clean up your mess Eric before you want to build more.

  5. I surfed at San Onofre in the late 60s and early 70s, and now I glow in the dark.

  6. LMAO..lulu dear..at least your easy to find in the dark 😛You lived in Cali also? small world..KZ lived in San Diego, and I am a SD native.

  7. Eric McErlain

    Dusty, The difference is more than a mere technicality. The production of nuclear weapons creates all sorts of wastes that are nothing like the end products of commercial nuclear operations. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.And yes, we have successfully decommissioned nuclear reactors — including the former Rancho Seco in Northern California. Today, it’s a park:http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=99912One last thing to remember: While no one has ever died as a result of an accident at an American nuclear plant, studies show that 6,000 people die worldwide each year from coal extraction, and another 30,000 Americans die each year as the result of emissions from U.S. coal plants.Because only coal and nuclear provide reliable baseload power, saying no to nuclear means you have to build that much more coal-fired generation, or fall back on electricity generated by natural gas, a habit that will turn out to be as deadly as America’s addiction to foreign oil.

  8. I am not impressed by the fact that no one has ever died as a result of an accidnt at an american plant..sorry eric..its not a selling point of nuclear power. Your selling air with that one, an intangible that only comes into play IGF someone died as a result of ALL the nuclear accidents..and we have had a few havent we? Comparing fossil fuels to nuclear is apples and oranges in my book. We can not forgo the safe disposal of the highly radioactive nuclear plant waste as a trade off to building eco friendly power sources. Wind and air are renewable,eco friendly AND safe. Nuclear can only lay claim to ONE of those three things.

  9. Oh christ..wind and air should be..wind and solar.

  10. KZ and I were pals in S. Cal.almost 30 years ago (wince)… I was born and raised in Orange County, went to Long Beach State, was last a resident of Santa Cruz (which I never should have left… sigh…)

  11. Eric McErlain

    Actually, it is pertinent, as the design and operation of Western nuclear plants and Chernobyl are dramatically different.As for wind and solar being renewable and safe, sure that’s the case, but they can’t provide massive amounts of baseload power the grid needs today. When it comes to non-emitting sources of electric generation in the U.S., nuclear provides 73% of the total, while wind and solar, pushed along by production tax credits since 1992, only comprise 1.5%.As for refusing to compare nuclear to fossil, you’re going to have to. Global energy policy does not provide any easy choices. With the projected rise in demand, we’re going to need every source of generation in order to get the electricity we need to keep the country moving. Lean too much toward one source of generation, and you create all sorts of economic, environmental and energy security risks. A balanced portfolio can take care of that.And even though we evidently don’t agree, I’d like to thank you for hearing me out. You’re always welcome over at out blog too.http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com

  12. I enjoy a good discourse Eric..and I always hope to learn something by them.I never said that Chernobyl and our plants were comparable. I know they arent. My point is that we have had many an accident, its not totally safe by any stretch of the imagination and we have no plan for the waste..not a plan that has been tested and executed. I refuse to trade those things off to use nuclear.Its too high a price when other options need to be explored and researched such as wind and solar, which we have both those types within an hours drive of where I live. They contribute extensively to the needs of SoCal energy. I wish to do away with our dependance on fossel fuels..we have to if we want our planet to survive. I just can’t get on the bandwagon for nuclear. But thanks for trying..

  13. i saw the leslie stahl piece on tv. the ineptitude of bechtel is truly astounding. that they sent out the wrong specifications for the construction of the tank is understandable, human error, ok it happens. but the fact that SUCH a huge mistake was never picked up, that there were no interim progress reviews or coordination between the engineer and the contractor during fabrication and construction is mind boggling. and the $15 million bonus !! they claimed that it wasn’t a bonus, it was a “fee.” when will it end?

  14. I’m with Dusty on this……….show me the safeness!(kinda like truthiness) 🙂Eric, you sound like a guy who knows his stuff……come up with a safe storage for nuclear wastes of all kind.I’m sure our government would be happy to look at your new invention & take it & stick right on the shelf with all the other alternative sources they have.I think my cynacism slip is showing…….sorry.Peace,Deanna

  15. The NEI is not connected with the government, but they do have to go through the government for approval of everything I believe..so you might have a point there Deanna.The cost of “safe” alternatives like wind and solar would decrease if more research was done and more companies invested in them. GE just recently sent 75 million bucks overseas to Portugal for a solar farm..whats wrong w/investing in the solar farms in the US?? Its bullshit..

  16. I know the answer to the GE question, and I wish I could talk about it. Ah well…..El Shrubbo doesn’t care about Hanford because he’s going to jump-start the Rapture. Who needs to worry about pollution?

  17. I am sure it has something to do with their bottom line..The Shrub isn’t the only president that has hosed up Hanford..it goes back to Eisenhower. Its always..lets move ahead in the tech wars..we just won’t worry about the bi-products till later..Its later..

  18. Eric McErlain

    Dusty, I think you ought to take a look at a study that the CA PUC conducted recently concerning the state’s two nuclear plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. Our CEO quoted it in a speech he gave at Town Hall LA last September:<>Here in California, replacing the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants with alternate fossil electricity sources would mean an additional 16.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, by our analysis. That’s the equivalent of emissions from one-sixth of all the cars in the state.These four reactors also helped prevent the emission of more than 9,500 tons of nitrogen oxides. To get the same impact, you would have to pull more than 500,000 cars off the road.(snip)[R]eplacing more than 2,000 megawatts of capacity at San Onofre with combined-cycle gas-fired capacity would require construction of four to five new gas-fired plants, the Commission said in its analysis of alternatives. In addition, the new gas-fired plants would require new gas pipeline capacity to bring in the fuel, as well as new transmission lines and new or upgraded substations to carry the electricity to market.The California PUC’’s environmental report also evaluated renewable energy alternatives to San Onofre. The PUC said that although these technologies ““do not rely on a finite supply of fossil fuel, consume little water and generate either zero or reduced levels of air pollutants and hazardous wastes … these technologies do cause environmental impacts.””The PUC concluded that all the renewable alternatives ““have unique technical feasibility limitations. High costs and, in some cases, limited dispatchability, inhibit their market penetration.””I bring the PUC environmental report to your attention. It evaluates solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, fuel cells and demand-side management as alternatives to the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear plants. It notes the attractive features of each technology. But the Commission’s environmental report concludes that none of these technologies can realistically replace the 24/7 baseload power currently being met by San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.<>Asa I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a mortorium against new nuclear build in California. Yet, decades after they first went into service, these plants provide an invaluable margin of safety for the state’s electrical grid, as well as preventing the emission of millions of tons of carbon and other pollutants.You can read the rest of that speech at the following address:http://www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=4&catid=845One last note: NEI represents the interests of the American nuclear industry — companies that own, operate and build nuclear power plants. We also represent universities, and companies in nuclear medicine.As for our interactions with government, we lobby Congress, serve as a single point of contact for the industry with the NRC and also serve as a policy development shop for the industry. Hope that clarifies our role.Any other questions, just ask.Eric

  19. rev. billy bob gisher ©2008

    on the bright side, with fuel costs going through the roof, now with so many drinking this stuff, we can save money by doing our own lighting.

  20. I know what NEI is and how they work..and that they are a proud member of the K Street Lobbyists..I still want to know what the NEI plans to do with the leaking,closed-down reactor at San Onofre..you haven’t addressed that Eric. And its the main subject of my post..what to do with the junk in the trunk..the radioactive waste, and in the case of San Onofre, the old,dead reactor that is leaking..Thanks for stopping by folks, I appreciated everyones thoughts..espically the right rev.billy bob 😛

  21. I AM BACK !!!!….HEY THERE FRIEND 😉Your site looks amazing ..so inspiring….( I love the special touches- even “Latest lurker column”…Hope all is well with you…( Sol is doing better for now , so I am going to spend the next few days getting caught up). I love that you posted this, I have some other articles on Christine the Cunt….She is responsible for so much damage in Washington State- many don’t know that she was the”Ecology Director” in the 1980’s, before she was the State Attorney General and the Gov ( the Criminal aspects of her are in my book- she earned herself a whole chapter…)Nuclear Waste kills people and I was really hoping that 60 Minutes would highlight Hanford and Chernobyl on the same show ( a girl can dream).Hanford waste is spread across Washington State as well as other states ( Downwinders are really the invisible victims….that the show should have interviewed…) Ok, time to crawl off my soapbox and lurk around a bit…..

  22. I have tried to post twice and it would not let me…I will try again and email you offline…;-0

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