Nuclear Waste: The Non-Issue. The Real Issue: Deadly Forever, Carcinogenic, MillionsX greater volume Fossil Fuel Waste

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This guy does an excellent summary of the Nuclear Waste non-issue:

"...There are multiple plans for the spent fuel. Over the course of the next few years or decades, the main repository is most likely to be the on-site cooling pools or dry cask storage. There are no serious technical problems with that approach, and that could easily see us through the remainder of this century. If you can think of any respect in which contained spent fuel with its ridiculously tiny geographic footprint is not massively greener than coal, I'd be interested to hear about it.

For intermediate term storage, I expect several underground repositories will be set up and those might see some use for another 2 or 3 centuries.. But spent fuel is only "spent" with regard to the current class of reactors. Even high-burnup spent fuel has only extracted about 5% of the energy potential of the fuel. There are multiple teams working on developing fast, mixed, or epithermal spectrum reactors which can make use of the rest, and most of them would operate in a temperature range which makes the heat produced more useful, so these reactors should deliver between 20 to 30 times the amount of usable energy that we got from the fuel on its first pass through current reactors. Final burnup will convert all of the transuranics into fission products.

The fission products themselves will be divided into three categories. Around 80% of it will go into well-shielded short-term sequester for up to ten years while it drops down to or below background radiation levels. There will be 7 very long-lived fission products, some of which have uses, or can be converted into stable and even valuable elements by transmutation, and the remainder of which will be very mildly radioactive, easily-shielded beta emitters, in very small quantities. Around 17% of the fission products will have intermediate half-lives--up to around 30 years. In three or four centuries, they will be cold elements, all of which are usable. These might wind up in a recoverable sequester, or we might just vitrify them and drop them down deep boreholes--whichever turns out to be cheapest at the time. Earthquakes would pose no problem for borehole disposal. They might collapse underground repositories rendering the fission products unrecoverable, but posing negligible risk to anyone above ground, and Australia is currently investigating setting up a global nuclear waste repository, and Australia has some of the most tectonically stable land on the planet. The net long-term risk from earthquakes would be trivial compared to the risks posed by the energy alternatives.

As for cost, a metric ton of spent fuel easily has the potential to produce a gigawatt-year of electricity. At a wholesale rate of, say, 3 cents per kw hour, that would translate into revenues of over a quarter billion dollars. Even a metric ton of gold is only worth around 35 million. So let me turn your question around. If someone were to dump several tons of gold dust in your front yard, how much do you think it would "cost" you to dispose of it?..."

I would add Russia & India have both recently put new Fast Spectrum Reactors online that burn spent nuclear fuel. And GE is marketing a version that will also burn nuclear waste, based on the proven Integral Fast Reactor that the DOE built and Bill Clinton (an admitted Natural Gas Industry stooge) ordered shutdown and destroyed. The IFR was tested operationally Fukushima style or even worse than that - complete station blackout - no operator interventions - and it automatically shut itself down and maintained a stable state. And CANDU reactors can and do burn spent nuclear fuel.

And a LFTR - Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor - a thermal neutron spectrum reactor that is compact & meltdown proof, can generate 1 GW of electricity for a year on one tonne of natural Thorium. There is enough Thorium in the annual waste from one Rare Earth metals mine, that produces materials for the Wind & Solar Industries, to power the entire planet for one year, burnt in a LFTR. The mine will pay you to take away their radioactive Thorium waste, so the LFTR is actually consuming radioactive waste.

Funny, supposed opponents of climate change, like Greenpeace & Obama, don't demand $billions be spent to fast-trak LFTR development instead of throwing $trillions down the sewer on nutty bait-and-switch scams like Solar, Wind, Wave & Tidal energy, Agrofuels, Hydrogen & Carbon Capture. Big Oil luvs scams. Scams = The Status Quo or Burn, Baby, Burn. Meanwhile western governments, including the US, are spending zip on advanced super-safe reactor development.

Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am


Please do me a favor and watch this documentary:

Then, if you're still not convinced, have a look through the material at including the podcasts section and the articles on nuclear waste. He even covers the CANDU reactor you mentioned in one of his videos.

With all due respect, you're being fed a line of bullshit. Nuclear waste is a serious problem that no one knows how to solve. The Hanford site, currently one of the most polluted places on the planet, is a total disaster. The cleanup process is not simple or straight-forward, and how the hell can anyone know that waste will remain safely contained for hundreds of thousands of years? As for the "reuse" myth, that's debunked in the video, above.

marriott79's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Dude, you don't even know that Hanford is a nuclear weapons site, nothing to do with commercial nuclear power. You figure the US should drop its nuclear deterrent?

Your schlock video doesn't debunk anything, just another one of many financed by Big Oil to knee-cap the competition. Man are you ever gullible.

As for your fairewinds that's Arnie Gunderson's site. The guy gets rich promoting himself as a nuclear "expert" and helps Big Oil try to shutdown their competition. Besides being a compulsive liar Gunderson once ran a tiny 100 watt reactor in college for a couple years, then went on to become a high school teacher, until he figured out there is big money in being an anti-nuclear "expert" witness.

Read all about Gunderson here:

Good example:

And since you know precisely zip about Nuclear Power you might learn some about it here:

And I note all you have is idiotic declarations like ".. safely contained for hundreds of thousands of years.." which are completely explained in my post which you obviously didn't read or you wouldn't have posted such a stupid statement. You haven't answered even one point I made.

Just this alone proves you are dead wrong:

Deaths per TWh of electricity:

Coal: 161

Oil: 36

Biomass: 12

NG: 4

Hydro: 1.4

Wind: 0.15

Nuclear: 0.04

Note that doesn't include billions who will die from runaway global warming caused by your oil, gas & coal power source. And even the mess in Europe & the Middle East caused by your fossil fuels. Mass emigrations and social disruptions. That is just the warmup to what follows. Seven million deaths per year caused by your fossil & biomass pollution, zip for nuclear.

Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am

Forget it. You're a fool. It's not worth my time arguing with you. You clearly didn't watch the video, or you'd know that it was a collaboration with Greenpeace, not big Oil. And at best you Googled "Hanford" but didn't bother doing any in depth research before stating it has "nothing to do with commercial nuclear power". You then put words in my mouth by saying "You figure the US should drop its nuclear deterrent?" I never said that, but since you brought it up, exactly WHO are these weapons deterring and from doing WHAT?

As for Arnie Gunderson and Fairewinds, they struggle to even keep their doors open. They are NOT getting rich off of public donations and a few grants. Oh right, there's that huge solar lobby! But of course anything published by a nuclear industry advocate with a for-profit business (i.e. must be an unbiased and credible source:

Atomic Insights LLC is a for-profit, tax-paying, publishing company based in Virginia whose aim is to produce and distribute accurate information about a variety of topics associated with atomic technologies. We discuss atomic energy, the competitors to atomic energy, radiation, the risks and benefits of using nuclear technology, and the hazards of avoiding the use of nuclear technology.


Fairewinds Energy Education is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2008. Our mission is to educate the public about nuclear power and other energy issues. We have designed our website to be a hub for fact-based, undistorted nuclear energy information. Fairewinds’ website features podcasts and videos, in which we collaborate with experts in wide ranging fields to discuss nuclear energy issues.


Arnie Gundersen has more than 40-years of nuclear power engineering experience. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he earned his Bachelor Degree cum laude while also becoming the recipient of a prestigious Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship for his Master Degree in nuclear engineering. Arnie holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US.

Regarding Hanford, I suggest you do your God damn homework:

Hanford is NOT just a weapons site. It has an operational nuclear reactor called the Columbia Generating Station: 

Location: Richland, WA (20 miles NNE of Pasco, WA) in Region IV
Operator: Energy Northwest
Operating License: Issued - 04/13/1984
Renewed Operating License: Issued - 05/22/2012
License Expires: 12/20/2043
Docket Number: 05000397

Reactor Type: Boiling Water Reactor
Licensed MWt: 3,486
Reactor Vendor/Type: General Electric Type 5
Containment Type: Wet, Mark II

I don't know where you get the idea that anyone who is opposed to nuclear power must be in favor of fossil fuels, but I fail to see the logic in replacing one dangerous technology with another. Even if nuclear waste wasn't a problem, the mining process is incredibly carbon-intensive. People like you always ignore the biggest nuclear reactor in the solar system: the sun. But of course no one wants to focus on sun and wind technology, because that would decentralize power generation, and then someone wouldn't be able to make a buck off of it.

It's not worth my time to argue with you. So, I'm done here. Good day, sir.

marriott79's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Yes and Columbia Generating station has nothing whatsoever to do with the Hanford site cleanup, which was spillage from the long ago weapons program there. So don't be so blatantly dishonest. Even so, zero deaths from Hanford vs 7 million deaths per year from your fossil & biomass emissions.

And I know all about solar power, you don't or you wouldn't make stupid comments about decentralized power generation which you also know nothing about. Always the same cowardly dodge that Big Oil lackeys like yourself use. Claim you support solar & wind which won't, hasn't and can't do zip to displace fossil fuels but it allows you to pretend you are pro-clean-energy when in fact you are just another burn-baby-burn type. What the world's #1 climatologist Jim Hansen calls believing in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. James Hansen Smacks Renewable Energy:

And your Greenpeace that paid for your Schlock video doesn't reveal where it gets it's incredible $360 million/yr in financing from, but we do know from other sources that it gets major funding from Big Oil groups like the Rockefeller foundation. Vs Atomic Insights gets a tidbit of donations from small donors. Why does Greenpeace have anti-Nuclear as one of its three main campaigns but no anti-coal, anti-oil or anti-gas?

So Fairewinds is a 501c3 non-profit organization so why isn't it showing us its IRS 990 tax form as any reputable non-profit would do? So we can see where it is getting its cash from. And see what salary Gunderson gets. I guarantee you it is far, far beyond anything Rod Adams makes at Atomic Insights. And will accept contrary comments and will respond in a very respectful manner - you are invited to submit some. Gunderson doesn't allow comments.

A similar rabid anti-nuclear non-profit to Fairewinds is the NRDC. But they do show their IRS 990 form. From that we see It has multi-million$ annual donations including an $11M personal donation in 2013. Mysteriouslessly they have the donor names left blank in the required IRS form field, as usual for these anti-nuclear ENGOs. And salaries of 17 directors of more than $161k per year with the president getting $423k/yr. With a Rockefeller Bankster/Oil Baron on the (unpaid) executive. And of course donations from Rockefeller foundations. What rich charitable individual would give $11M to some Schlock ENGO with a bunch of super well paid executive, when he could give that money to a Real Charity, i.e. to help sick kids, cancer research, child hunger, homelessness etc. Obviously they are giving them money because they are getting payback. Return on Investment. And unlike media campaigns or planted news stories, those investments in schlock ENGOs are classified as "charitable donations". What a scam, Big Oil lobby firms masquerading as Environmental Organizations.

As for your Gunderson, an Actual Qualified Nuclear Expert explains:

"...Dr. John H. Bickel just retired from Xcel Energy’s nuclear department and is happy to be able to share information that is no longer filtered through his employer. He provided the following statement to help the world understand exactly what Gundersen might have learned as a graduate student at RPI and what experience he might have gained by instructing students in “start-up through full power operation of a reactor”.

I got my MS and PhD at RPI a few years after Gundersen was there. RPI’s reactor was donated by the American Locomotive Co and was originally to be used for developing a nuclear train locomotive. It was reconfigured to use as a training reactor that could generate 200 Watts of power — or two big light bulbs worth. It had two means of shutting down: the control Rods with fuel followers could be dropped (removing fuel from the center of the core) and inserting poison. The backup means of shutting the reactor down was to dump the moderator to a holding tank. Yes! Core uncovery was the back up shutdown mechanism

With 200 watts output and a highly enriched fuel there was no decay heat as in a power reactor. We actually learned about flux distributions by manually taping Cadmium and Silver foils to fuel plates – starting up the reactor and running it for 20 minutes – scramming it – and quickly retrieving the foils (yes handling the fuel elements on a bench) and doing a counting experiment with a gamma spectrometer.

With a minimum amount of reading and passing an exam, students could become certified as a “Reactor Operator” by AEC and become lab instructors or teaching assistants. This is what Arne did. Getting an SRO for a commercial power reactor requires about two years of training in classrooms and on a simulator, performing numerous observed plant startups and shutdowns, passing a serious license exam.

Comparing the RPI training reactor certification to an SRO license in a power reactor is ridiculous!

There was no training on ESF systems, reactivity controls, chemistry, decay heat removal, feed water/condensate systems, the turbine and condenser etc.

For him to be parading himself around as an SRO is absurd and he needs to be called down for that.

(Note: Dr. Bickel exaggerated the output of RPI’s Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility a little; it actually has a peak output of less than 100 watts.)..."

So much for your Arnie Gunderson.

Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am
Quote marriott79:

With all due respect, you're being fed a line of bullshit.

With no respect at all you are ignorant and spewing bullshit. The risks of nuclear are completely overblown and exaggerated and more harm comes from lying hype like yours than from that which you are lying about.

stwo's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Mmmm hmmm. I'll be laughing my ass off when the next TMI happens in your backyard. Enjoy your nuclear power, guys!

marriott79's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

marriott you already have much worse than TMI right in your own backyard, right inside Los Angeles, dumping 1200 tons of toxic emissions per day, including much more radioisotopes (chiefly Radon-222 some Polonium-210) & radiation than TMI ever released to the surrounding environment. And the major strong carcinogen Benzene. And this will be for 4 months or more.

Add that to one of your fracking specials, San Bruno NG explosion burning to death 8 persons and horrific injuries to many others while destroying an entire neighbourhood.

I guess these oil, gas & coal accidents of yours are so commonplace, nobody cares anymore.

Enjoy your fossil specials Marriot!

Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am

Regarding the Dumbos who believe solar and wind are "clean energy". And gripe about the ancient Hanford nuclear weapons plant waste discharges. Think again.

Solar and wind use over 10X the material resources per unit energy as Nuclear, much more including the inevitable energy storage. That's full lifecycle including mining, and that mining isn't needed for GenIV reactors, which run happily on GenII & GenIII reactor's nuclear waste or on coal waste.

A 1 GW coal power plant toxic solid waste heap has enough uranium & thorium to run a 1 GW GenIV nuclear plant for some 18 yrs. In fact the coal power plant produces half as much radioactive waste as a similar output regular GenII or GenIII nuclear power plant, and that is just a tiny portion of the total toxic waste the Coal power plant will produce annually:

Some 7,400,000 tons CO2, 386,000 tons of sludge and 240,000 tons of ash, 45,000 tons sulfur & nitrogen oxides. 1440 tons carbon monoxide, 1000 tons particulates. 45 tons arsenic, 13 tons uranium, 5 tons thorium, 9 tons cadmium, 300 lbs mercury, 200 lbs lead. And a Coal power plants exposes the population to about 100X the radiation emissions as similar sized Nuclear power plant full lifecycle.

And a typical Rare Earth minerals waste dump that produces materials for Wind, Solar & Energy Storage, especially wind turbines, produces enough Thorium annually in the waste to power the entire world burnt in a Molten Salt Reactor or LFTR. That's the total world primary energy supply of 18 TW, including heat, transportation & electricity. The mine will pay you to take the thorium away.

Good look at a Solar & Wind toxic waste dumps:

Wind & Solar Waste: Boom in Mining Rare Earths Poses Mounting Toxic Risks:

Wind & Solar Waste: Rare-earth mining in China comes at a heavy cost for local villages:

Alas, if only the Wind & Solar were a practical & realistic source of energy, at least on the scale needed to significantly replace fossil fuels. Then it might almost be worth all the environmental destruction they cause. Sadly they remain just very expensive guarantors of a fossil fuel future.

Compare the above Enviro-Disasters to the World's largest nuclear generating station, Bruce Power on Lake Huron, Ontario, complete with a heavy water production plant, 6.2 GW & 45 TWh/yr on 2300 acres of land. Vs the new Solar Millenium project at Blythe in California on 5950 acres of land and generates 2.1 TWh/yr, including ~20% NG energy. So 2.6X the area for 4.7% of the energy. And a much lower grade, lower reliability energy source.

Bruce Nuclear Generating Station:

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station 3.5 GW on Lake Ontario:

They both look pretty green to me.

Not like this Coal power plant with its sludge ponds:

Or Germany with its Giant Lignite Strip MInes feeding a Coal Dirt Burner:

I like the wind turbine beside the giant strip mine - that's Germany's idea of "clean energy". More like greenwashing for the coal. No wonder they have 9X the emissions per unit electricity generated of nuclear France.

Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am

"The Saddest Thing Is This Won't Be Breaking News"

Thom plus logo As the world burns, and more and more fossil fuels are being used every day planet-wide, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed 416 ppm this week at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In the 300,000 years since the emergence of modern humans, carbon dioxide levels have never been this high.
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