Nuclear Waste Jeff Wallace

Used Fuel Pool

Used nuclear fuel is stored on site at the nations nuclear power plants. Most plants use steel-lined pools, concrete pools filled with water to shield from radiation. The water keeps the used fuel cool as it decays. The water does not leave the pool.

Fukushima used the same type storage pool that is used in the United States. in 2011 Fukushima had a major earth quake and tsunami. The pool survived with no significant damage. This shows that this design is safe and robust.

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Dry Cask Storage

Most nuclear sites were designed to hold the used fuel for 10 to 20 years. In other words the sites were designed for short term storage only. Federal law required the U.S. Department of Energy to begin moving used fuel from plant sites in 1998, but they have failed to do so.

Most plants are starting to run out of space in used fuel pools or have already ran out. The plants are now being forced to store fuel above ground in massive, airtight containers, which are made out of steel-reinforced concrete this is called dry cask storage.

Dry cask storage is a canister that contains the radioactive substances. The canister is placed in a transfer cask and then is put into the spent fuel pool on site. The canister is then filled with the radioactive material and once its filled the cask is then sealed. All of this is taking place underwater. The cask is then taken out and moved to platforms on site until federal organizations can take the waste to a long term storage site.

Example of Dry Cask Storage

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Long-Term Storage Repositories

Disposal of high-level radioactive byproducts in a permanent geologic repository is needed. An underground facility that will be used for only long-term storage for radioactive waste is essential for sustainable, integrated used nuclear fuel management program.

The NEI (Nuclear Energy Industry) fully supports the development of Yucca Mountain which will be used as a long-term storage site for high-level radioactive waste. The target date for opening of Yucca Mountain or an alternative repository site should be no more than 20 years after a consolidated storage site is opened.

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Detailed Image of Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Repository
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act

Congress passed this in 1982. This directs the Department of Energy to build and operate a long-term storage repository for high-level radioactive material. The act also set a deadline of 1998 for the Energy Department to begin moving used fuel from nuclear energy facility.

This massive project was funded by a Nuclear Waste fund that was established by the act. Electricity consumers have paid into the fund one-tenth of a cent for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced at nuclear power plants since 1983. These fees grow at a rate of $750 million a year. As of May 2013 the funds balance was approximately $29 million.

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Nuclear Energy Statistics

As of November 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 450 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 60 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.

Nuclear power plants provided 10.9 percent of the world's electricity production in 2012. In 2015, 13 countries relied on nuclear energy to supply at least one-quarter of their total electricity.

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Possible Solutions

The most feasible solution would be to force The Department of Energy to set up a long-term storage site for high-level radioactive waste. This storage repository will be used to store like I had said before high-level radioactive waste and just other waste that is radioactive in general. This will cost a lot of money to set up but I feel like it would be worth it for the future of nuclear energy in the United States.

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Jeff Wallace
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