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High Level Radioactive Waste - Spent Fuel Assemblies

Contents

  • Overview

  • Safer Storage Solutions

  • National Inventory Spent Fuel and its Management; NRC Waste Confidence Decision

  • Yucca Mountain

  • Reprocessing

  • Resources

 

OVERVIEW

Radioactive fuel: Radioactive fuel rods are placed in the reactor core to produce the heat needed to generate electricity. After one or two years the fuel rods are no longer useful for producing electricity; however they remain intensely radioactive and thermally hot. To protect the public from intense radiation and to cool the rods down, the spent fuel rods are placed in a pool of cool water.

Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool

The pool in Pilgrim nuclear plant's primary reactor building
Holds over 2,200 spent" fuel rods totaling more than a
million pounds of radioactive material.
Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger 

Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool contains far more radioactive fuel than the reactor’s core. The core holds 580 rods, about 1/3 are removed at each refueling outage to the spent fuel pool – outages occur every 24 months. 

Spent Fuel Pool: Spent fuel pools were designed to be temporary and to store only a small fraction of what they currently hold. The original plan was to reprocess the used fuel rods, extracting material suitable for nuclear bombs and adding new materials to make useable fuel rods for reactors. Therefore spent fuel would remain onsite for a short period of time. However reprocessing spent fuel ended under President Carter. Our nation decided that there was enough weapons grade nuclear material in the world. At that point the federal government promised to build a permanent national repository. In the interim, reactors could store on site. A federal repository has not been built; therefore more and more waste is piling up on site and pools have been allowed to become very densely packed. 

Pilgrim’s pool was designed to hold 880 assemblies. The NRC allowed Pilgrim to amend their license to hold 3,859 assemblies in the same place by packing the assemblies closer together. This enabled Pilgrim to continue generating waste without an offsite storage option in order to complete their current license (2012). 

The pool is a 45 foot deep concrete “swimming pool” that stores highly radioactive fuel assemblies after their removal from the core. These fuel assemblies are thermally very hot when they are first removed from the core. Most important, they are extremely “hot” radioactively – so hot that Federal regulations require an eventual repository be able to isolate fuel from the environment for 10,000 years. Spent fuel pools contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

The pool must be filled with water because the fuel releases heat and radiation. The water must be continuously cooled to remove the heat generated by the assemblies. If the cooling is halted, the fuel pool would heat up and boil away. If the water boils off or is drained, the 
spent fuel will overheat, melt, or catch on fire. NRC concedes a fire would be so intense and so much radiation released in the area that it could not be extinguished. Federal studies also show that thousands of people could die from the radiation released in a spent fuel pool 
accident.

Risk: Spent Fuel Pool Fires

The spent fuel pool is designed to remain intact following an earthquake but it is not designed to withstand aircraft impacts and explosive forces. 

Several events could cause a loss of pool water including leakage, evaporation, siphoning, pumping, aircraft impact, accidental or deliberate drop of a fuel transport cask, reactor failure, or an explosion from inside or outside. 

Water loss is likely to result in a catastrophic fire. The spent fuel would be exposed to air and steam, the zirconium cladding that surrounds the rods would melt and catch fire. The NRC conceded that such a fire could not be extinguished – the radiation doses in the pool would 
be lethal – the fire could rage for days. Also the risk of a fire persists. NRC stated in an October 2000 study that the possibility of a zirconium fire cannot be dismissed even many years after a final reactor shutdown.

A spent fuel pool fire and release would be a regional and national disaster. The spent fuel pool contains many times more radioactivity than the core. Especially problematic is the large amount of Cesium-137; currently there is about 30 million curies in Pilgrim’s pool. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years and gives off a highly penetrating form of radiation. It is absorbed in the food chain as if it were potassium. According to the NRC as much as 100% of the Cesium-137 would be released into the environment in a pool fire. For comparison, Chernobyl released 40% of the reactor core’s 6 million curies of Cesium-137. Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool has more Cesium-137 than was deposited by all the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in North America combined. 

Densely packed pools like Pilgrim’s are especially prone to fire. To avoid criticality of rods placed close together, neutron absorbing panels are placed between the assemblies. The extra panels will restrict air and water circulation if there is a water loss. Further, if the equipment collapses, as might occur in a terrorist attack, air and water flow to the stacked assemblies would be obstructed causing a fire, according to a NRC report.

GE Mark I & II Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) -Spent Fuel Pools Designed like Pilgrim's are especially vulnerable to attack

General Electric Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor (BWR) designs (32 reactors, nationwide) have large inventories of highly radioactive waste – used reactor fuel assemblies – currently stored in densely packed elevated storage pools, above and outside the primary containment structure. 

Their nuclear waste storage pools are located near the roof and are vulnerable to a variety of attacks from above, below, and on three sides. Massachusetts citizens live in the shadow of two of these highly vulnerable reactors – Pilgrim in Southeastern Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee, just over our northwestern border.

 

 

SAFER STORAGE SOLUTIONS



The risk to the public can be greatly reduced by requiring low-density pool storage for recently unloaded fuel and secured dry casks for the rest.

Advantages

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Avoids tight packing of thousands of assemblies in the pool, where loss of coolant water/exposure to air would cause them to ignite within a few hours due to the reaction between water, air and immense heat. A fire could not be put out – the area would be too 
radioactive. 

bullet

Because the spent fuel pool is located inside the main reactor building, a spent fuel pool accident is likely to result in a core accident, too.

bullet

Dry storage minimizes the chance of an accident with thousands of assemblies: There are generally only 2 dozen assemblies in each dry cask, compared to Pilgrim’s pool that has 2,278 today and will have 3,859 by 2012. An accident would result in the release of 10 times 
more high-level radioactivity than released in Chernobyl – contaminating an area (3) times Massachusetts.

bullet

No risk for dry casks in case of power outage. Waste assemblies cooled by passive air convection. 

bullet

Since there are no moving parts such as fans, pumps or blowers, dry storage has no risk of mechanical breakdowns – they are cheaper to maintain. 

bullet

Dry storage is in use extensively in the US – at decommissioned plants and at over a dozen operating plants. No others are building new pools. 

bullet

The NRC admits dry storage has fewer failure modes. The NRC has approved a range of dry storage designs.

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Casks can be multi-purpose, suitable for both storage and shipment. Spent fuel rods will have to be put into casks eventually for transport to a permanent repository. Pilgrim should be required to place the rods in casks now rather than wait until later, when it could 
be too late. 

bullet

Low-density pool storage was once a common practice at nuclear plants and poses a lower level of hazard than high-density pool storage.
 

Dry Casks Need to Be Secured or Hardened - two proposals


Dry Casks

Typically when industry moves to dry cask storage, they place the casks on a concrete pad – like bowling pins waiting for a strike. However, it is not September 10th; therefore it is necessary to place them in a less vulnerable position. The schematic below by Dr. Gordon Thompson makes sense.

 

PROPOSAL #1 Dispersed Hardened Cask Storage Proposal



SCHEMATIC VIEW OF PROPOSED DESIGN
FOR HARDENED, DRY STORAGE


Disperse casks so that they are a more difficult target. Pilgrim has plenty of room; it sits on 1600 acres.

 

PROPOSAL #2 - Holtec International H-Storm 100U -Underground Storage Proposal

Holtec International, a major cask design and manufacturing company, has developed a design for a new ISFSI storage module that is said to be more robust against attack than present modules. The new module is the HI-STORM 100U module, which would employ the same MPC as is used in the present Holtec modules. For most of its height, the 100U module would be underground. Holtec has described the robustness of the 100U module as follows:

"Release of radioactivity from the HI-STORM 100U by any mechanical means (crashing aircraft, missile, etc.) is virtually impossible. The only access path into the cavity for a missile is vertically downward, which is guarded by an arched, concrete-fortified steel lid weighing in excess of 10 tons. The lid design, at present configured to easily thwart a crashing aircraft, can be further buttressed to withstand more severe battlefield weapons, if required in the future for homeland security considerations. The lid is engineered to be conveniently replaceable by a later model, if the potency of threat is deemed to escalate to levels that are considered non-credible today."

Canisters are passively cooled and can hold the same heat load as the existing system. Holtec says that the system can be used at any site, even on a coastal plain or site with a high water table, because the metal canisters are welded and completely sealed off from the surrounding substrate. Preservatives will be applied to protect the concrete from groundwater. A surveillance program would monitor for groundwater.

FINANCES

Estimation of Cost to Offload Spent Fuel from Pilgrim's Pool after 5 years of Decay in the Spent Fuel Pool.

Capital cost to offload fuel, assuming 210 kgU per assembly and capital cost of $100-200 per kgU for dry storage $54-109 million. [Source: Pilgrim- Massachusetts Attorney General's Request for a Hearing and Petition for Leave to Intervene with Respect to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s Application for Renewal of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licensee Massachusetts, May 2006 -Adams Accession Number ML061630088, Table 8].

Who will pay for Safer Dry Storage?

The electricity market has been deregulated and this works against public safety. In a deregulated market there is no longer a pool of captive customers to pay for uneconomic operating costs or expensive capital additions – like secured dry casks. Also the owners of Pilgrim are limited liability companies with little to no cash reserves. Hence there is resistance to move wastes to safer dry storage. Therefore they either have to be forced to do so by regulators or be allowed to use federal monies.

There is a precedent for using federal monies for public safety especially post 9/11. The federal government promised licensees and the public that a federal repository would be ready by 1998. It wasn’t. Entergy and other licensees are suing the Federal Government in courts for costs of spent fuel storage onsite arguing that the government reneged on their promise to take the waste. Hence it is reasonable to argue that any court settlement that agrees to pay licensees for waste storage do so only with  strings attached - any settlement money from the Federal Government must be spent on hardened dry cask storage as described above.
 

 

 

NATIONAL INVENTORY OF SPENT FUEL & ITS MANAGEMENT; NRC WASTE CONFIDENCE DECISION

National Inventory

Spent fuel is often measured in terms of metric tons of heavy metal (MTHM), based on the fresh (pre-irradiation) form of the fuel. As of early 2008, about 57,000 MTHM of commercial spent fuel was in storage across the USA, in 35 states. This stock of fuel is growing at the rate of about 2,000 MTHM annually. The majority of this stock of fuel is stored in pools at operating reactors. Those pools are equipped with high-density racks. The remainder of the fuel is stored in ISFSIs. There are 49 licensed ISFSIs across the USA, of which 45 are at reactor sites.20 At some of those reactor sites, decommissioning activities have removed the reactor, leaving an ISFSI as the remaining major facility on the site.

NRC Waste Confidence Decision

WASTE CONFIDENCE DECISION [Federal Register Notice: 73 FR 197—10.09.08   Docket ID-2008-0482 and Docket-ID-2008-0404] [see Fed Reg Vol 73, No 197, Oct 9, 2008 59551]


Finding 4:
The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if necessary, spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely without significant environmental impacts for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of that reactor in a combination of storage in its spent fuel storage basin and either onsite or offsite independent spent fuel storage installations. We have no confidence that this is so; and NRC has failed to provide a “clear preponderance” of the evidence, or any evidence for that matter, to justify a finding of reasonable assurance.

Finding 2:  The Commission finds reasonable assurance that sufficient mined geologic repository capacity can reasonably be expected to be available within 50–60 years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of any reactor to dispose of the commercial high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel originating in such reactor and generated up to that time.
Again, we have no confidence that this is so; and NRC has failed to provide a “clear preponderance” of the evidence, or any evidence for that matter, to justify a finding of reasonable assurance.

NRC downplays the severity of problems that come with siting and licensing a repository and incorrectly concludes that political resistance rather than legitimate technical problems is the reason that Yucca has not opened and is unlikely to do so. In the oft chance that Yucca does open, its maximum capacity of 77,000 metric tons will be met by waste generated by 2009 requiring the development of another storage facility east of the Mississippi. NRC may opine that Congress will change this law; however that is not assured. It seems that NRC has not fully appreciated that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is opposed to Yucca Mountain as is President Barack Obama.

NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision," requests the public to blindly take a leap of faith and enter into NRC’s world of make-believe, absent any factual basis. It is another confidence game or scam whereby the NRC attempts to gain the confidence of the American public that the high-level radioactive waste dilemma will be solved down the road and therefore nuclear utilities can continue making unlimited amounts of waste and storing it onsite unsafely - at the least cost to the industry.

Resources: NRC’s Rulemaking Docket, NRC-2008-0428, Waste Confidence decision Update, at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/rulemaking-ruleforum/rulemaking-dockets/2008/index.html

Comments submitted are easily accessed by clicking on "NRC-2008-0428" on left. Key comments include:  Comments By Texans For A Sound Energy Policy And Commenters On Proposed Waste Confidence Decision Update And Proposed Rule Regarding Consideration Of Environmental Impacts Of Temporary Storage Of Reactor Operations Prepared By Ms. Diane Curran, Esq; New York Attorney General’s Office, 02,06,09, comment 26; and  Comment of The Offices of the Attorneys General of the States of New York and Vermont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Waste Confidence Decision Update and Consideration of Environmental Impacts of Temporary Storage of Spent Fuel After Cessation of Reactor Operation  2009/02/06, Comment (21)

 

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YUCCA MOUNTAIN-PERMANENT OFFSITE STORAGE OPTION?

A Federal Repository, Won’t Solve Waste Problem –any time soon

 

Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced February 2, 2010 that the Obama Administration will eliminate all funding for the Yucca Mountain Project and will withdraw the Department of Energy's license application.

At the same time, a panel of judges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted permission for attorneys to temporarily suspend preparations for Yucca Mountain license hearings. It was the first in what could be a series of NRC rulings that could lead to the eventual withdrawal of the Energy Department's application to build a nuclear waste repository at the Nevada site. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Monday the Department of Energy in the next month will file a motion with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking to withdraw the license application “with prejudice,” meaning it could not be re-filed. 

In light of the Administration’s decision not to proceed with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, President Obama directed Secretary Chu to establish the Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for nuclear wastes. The Commission will provide advice and make recommendations on issues including alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. The Commission will produce an interim report within 18 months and a final report within 24 months.

The members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are: Lee Hamilton, Co-Chair; Brent Scowcroft, Co-Chair ;Mark Ayers, President, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Vicky Bailey, Former Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Former IN PUC Commissioner; Former Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs; Albert Carnesale, Chancellor Emeritus and Professor, UCLA ;Pete V. Domenici, Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; former U.S. Senator (R-NM); Susan Eisenhower, President, Eisenhower Group; Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator (R-NE); Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute; Allison Macfarlane, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University; Dick Meserve, Former Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Ernie Moniz, Professor of Physics and Cecil & Ida Green Distinguished Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ;Per Peterson, Professor and Chair, Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California – Berkeley; John Rowe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exelon Corporation ;Phil Sharp, President, Resources for the Future

Although it has been argued that the future of the US nuclear energy industry rests on the licensing of Yucca Mountain, few seem to share that contention today. While it is true that several states, including California, cannot proceed with new nuclear build in the US unless a satisfactory spent fuel resolution emerges, there is growing support for simply leaving the waste where it is, waiting for new technologies to be developed that can more effectively recycle and burn the remaining fuel produced by the nation’s fleet of light water reactors.

In response to Yucca’s potential demise, NRC updated its so-called waste confidence rule. Until recently, the waste confidence findings stated that a geologic repository would be available by 2025 and that spent nuclear fuel could be safely stored for at least 30 years beyond the licensed operation of a reactor. In October 2009, the NRC sought public comment on proposed extensions of these timings. It proposed to revise the rule to say that repository capacity will be available within 50 to 60 years after the licensed operation of any reactor, and that spent fuel generated in any reactor can be safely stored without significant environmental impact for at least 60 years beyond the licensed operation of the reactor.

What happens now?

Investigating other sites may run into the same NIMBY problems that Yucca Mountain has faced. Federal centralized interim storage has been proposed repeatedly as a solution, but no such facility has been developed because of, among other reasons, fears that such a facility would evolve into a permanent facility. The simplest solution appears to be continued onsite dry cask storage.

Pilgrim will remain a "high-level waste site" for decades. Therefore it is critically important that it be stored more safely - low density spent fuel pool storage and the rest stored in secured and dispersed dry casks.

 

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Yucca Mountain Lawsuit; Court Overrules Government's Lax Radiation Standards for Nuclear Waste - July, 2004


July 9, 2004 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally set its radiation release standards for groundwater for the proposed high-level radioactive waste site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The EPA set 10,000 years as the period during which radiation in the groundwater cannot exceed drinking water standards at the site's boundary, but this time frame would not protect the health of future generations. As the court ruled, the Energy Policy Act requires that the EPA determine public health and safety standards for Yucca Mountain "based upon and consistent with" the National Academy of Sciences" recommendations. The Academy's recommendation is that the compliance period should extend through the time of the peak risk for radiation doses from the repository - 300,000 years or more.

Given this ruling, the Yucca Mountain Project should be finished. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) must show that it can prevent groundwater contamination above drinking water standards at the compliance boundary for 300,000 years - a standard that the DOE's own analysis shows the Yucca Mountain site cannot meet. The EPA faces the choice of either appealing the decision or revising its standard. Proponents of Yucca may go to Congress for a rule change so they will not have to follow the National Academy of Science standards.

You can read the court decision at:

http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200407/01-1258a.pdf   

 

Jim Day, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 10, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Transportation

 

Shipping Pilgrim’s Spent Fuel Rods to Yucca: By 2012, Pilgrim will have 3,859 spent radioactive fuel assemblies; if re-licensed to operate until 2032, Pilgrim will have generated nearly 8,000 all toll.

Shipping Rail Casks: DOE prefers shipping waste mostly by train. A rail spur is needed to connect eastern Nevada to the site. It can not be built until Yucca is ready for shipments and will take six years to build. Until the spur is completed (2016, if you believe DOE that Yucca will open in 2010, or 2021, if you believe the Government Accounting Office), DOE proposes to ship "legal weight truck sized casks" piggyback on train cars out to eastern NV. There, they'd be off loaded onto semi trucks for the cross NV drive to deliver them to Yucca until the rail line gets finished. However, even this scenario is uncertain because DOE's own Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS, February 2002) for Yucca ruled against this piggy back idea, citing that it would increase worker doses to radioactivity because of all the extra handling/loading operations required.

Pilgrim does not have direct access to rail. According to DOE (FEIS, February 2002), Pilgrim proposed barge shipments to Boston – to transfer the casks to rail in the city. Communities along the coast and Boston are likely to have something to say.

DOE’s 2002 FEIS, J.1.2.2.2 Routes for Shipping Rail Casks from Sites Not Served by a Railroad Figure J-9. Routes analyzed for barge transportation from sites to nearby railheads (page 4 of 4).

Very long, heavy haul trucks (huge monsters, with a pusher truck in back, puller truck in front, and scores or even hundreds of tires with maximum speed of 5 mph or less) could also be used to get the waste from Pilgrim to the nearest rail head.

Either way, barge or truck, the question remains whether Pilgrim has the capability to lift train sized casks. The casks weigh 100 to 150 tons fully loaded with irradiated fuel.

Trains hold 68 BWR assemblies per train sized casks – (1) cask per rail car. Assuming Pilgrim can take this option, a big assumption, in order to ship the spent fuel accumulated to 2012 would require approximately 46 train casks.

Trucks: hold 9 BWR assemblies per truck sized casks – (1) cask per truck – requiring approximately 428 trucks to ship waste accumulated by 2012.

Highway Truck and Rail Routes

Figure J-45. Highway and rail routes used to analyze transportation impacts - Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

[http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/documents/feis_2/vol_2/apndx_j/index2_j.htm]



Editorial Cartoon - by Jim Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources: Transportation

U.S. Department of Energy, FEIS, February 2002
http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/documents/feis_2/vol_2/apndx_j/index2_j.htm

State of Nevada, Agency for Nuclear Projects http://state.nv.us/nucwaste/

Nuclear Information Resource Service http://www.nirs.org/roadsrails/roadsrailshome.htm

Public Citizen, Critical Mass Energy Project http://www.citizen.org/CMEP

 

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REPROCESSING - NUCLEAR WASTE OPTION?

Reprocessing only makes the radioactive waste problem worse, even though it is promoted as “recycling.” The “recycling” portion generally applies to just that one percent of spent fuel that consists of plutonium isotopes. In the absence of economical breeder reactors (which still remain a nuclear pipe dream), the plutonium would be used as mixed oxide fuel in light water reactors at considerable expense.  

The current commercial reprocessing technology, PUREX (for plutonium-uranium extraction) is huge and polluting. The largest such installation in the world is located on the Normandy peninsula in France. The radioactive liquid waste discharges from that and the similar facility in northwestern England have polluted the seas all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Ten of the twelve parties to the Oslo-Paris accords (OSPAR) have asked the French and British to stop the discharge, but they have not done so. (The other two parties are France and Britain; they abstained and hence are not bound by the vote.)  

The fission product stream, which has most of the radioactivity, would still need to be disposed of in a deep geologic repository. Most of the long-lived radioactivity in this stream consists of cesium-137 and strontium-90, with half-lives of about 30 and 29 years respectively. But there are also significant amounts of iodine- 129 and cesium-135, which have half-lives in the millions of years.  

While the volume of high-level waste is reduced after it is solidified in a glass matrix, reprocessing creates additional streams of waste besides the liquid discharges noted above. Specifically, intermediate-level waste, a waste classification used in France and other European countries, would be created in significant amounts. This waste must be disposed of in a geologic repository as well.  

Overall, reprocessing increases the volume of radioactive waste greatly when all waste streams are taken into account and does not eliminate the need for a deep geologic repository. 

The uranium stream that results from reprocessing consists of 95 percent of the nuclear material weight of spent fuel (U-238 plus U-235). It becomes contaminated with traces of fission products, notably technetium-99, as well as plutonium and neptunium-237. The contamination with these materials, which are much more radioactive than the uranium itself, creates considerable problems for the re-use of the uranium. Before it can be used again, it must be chemically processed and re-enriched to 3 to 5 percent U-235 content. The trace contamination results in contamination of the enrichment plant and creates additional radioactive exposure hazards for workers. For instance, in 1999, the Paducah uranium enrichment plant in Kentucky became notorious for not having warned its workers adequately about these trace contaminants in the uranium. A subsequent analysis determined that plutonium and neptunium were concentrated in certain process streams at the plant and created the potential for high worker doses. Trace contamination with plutonium and other radionuclides at Paducah was an important factor in the legislation that Congress passed in the year 2000, setting up a compensation program for nuclear weapons workers made sick by exposure to radiation and chemicals. The Paducah plant belongs to the U.S. Department of Energy; it is currently used only for commercial uranium enrichment. In the past it was used both for military and commercial purposes. 

While public information is scarce, it is interesting to note that France sends at least some of the contaminated uranium recovered at its La Hague reprocessing plant to Russia rather than re-enriching at home. If reprocessed uranium were to be disposed of as a waste instead of being re-enriched, this would also pose considerable problems. They would be more difficult than those faced by depleted uranium because the specific activity of the reprocessed uranium is roughly double that of depleted uranium; in addition it contains transuranic and fission product contaminants. 

Finally, all uranium enrichment results in a stream of depleted uranium, which is uranium depleted in the fissile isotope U-235. Depleted uranium consists mainly of the non-fissile isotope uranium-238 (99.7 to 99.8 percent usually). Some of this depleted uranium has been used for a variety of commercial and military purposes, the latter including tank armor and shells that have spread contamination on battlefields and testing areas in several countries. But the vast majority of it still remains as an orphan waste of the commercial and military nuclear enterprise. There is at present no place to dispose of depleted uranium in a way that would conform to prevailing radiological safety and health norms. Nor is there any program in place find one. It will not be easy. The characteristics of the waste make it akin to what is called transuranic waste (or Greater than Class C waste) and it should be handled accordingly – that is disposed of in a deep geologic repository. But the depleted uranium sits at various sites in nuclear states, including three in the United States – Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio.

Resources

Institute of Energy and Environmental Research  http://www.ieer.org/

Beyond Nuclear    http://www.beyondnuclear.org/images/documents/fs_france.pdf

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RESOURCES HIGH LEVEL WASTE

 

Pilgrim- Massachusetts Attorney General's Request for a Hearing and Petition for Leave to Intervene with Respect to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s Application for Renewal of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licensee Massachusetts, May 2006 -Adams Accession Number ML061630088

Massachusetts Attorney General's Request for a Hearing and Petition for Leave to Intervene with Respect to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s Application for Renewal of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Operating License , May 2006- Adams Accession Number 061640065

2009/02/06-Environmental Impacts of Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste from Commercial Nuclear Reactors: a Critique of NRC's Waste Confidence Decision and Environmental Impact Determination, NRC Electronic Library Adams Accession No. ML090960723

C-10 Research and Education Foundation: http://www.c-10.org/nuclear-waste-storage.html         

Nuclear Spent Fuel & Homeland Security, The Case for Hardened Storage: View 10 minute presentation

Institute for Resource and Security Studies: http://www.irss-usa.org/pages/enpub.html

Program in Science and Global Security, Princeton University
http://www.princeton.edu/~globsec/people/fvhippel_spentfuel.html

Committee to Bridge the Gap:  http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/beamhenge.html

Citizen Petition: http://www.citizen.org/documents/BWRpetition.pdf.;

Annex to the petition, http://www.citizen.org/documents/BWRpetitionannex.pdf.

To read Supplemental filing of April 19, 2005 to NRC regarding the August 10, 2004 petition on the vulnerability of GE boiling water reactors as confirmed by findings in the National Academy of Sciences April 2005 public version of its classified report to Congress “The Safety and Security of Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage,” visit http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/security/nscnas2206sup08102004.pdf

 

 

Read about "low level" waste

 

PilgrimWatch.org