Wednesday, August 8, 2012

USA: all nuclear license decisions frozen - on site storage of spent fuel legally declared "risk"

Indian Point NPP, one of the affected facilities

U.S. Freezes All Nuclear Power Plant Licensing Decisions

WASHINGTON, DC, August 7, 2012 (ENS) – Federal nuclear regulators today froze at least 19 final reactor licensing decisions in response to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that spent nuclear fuel stored on-site at nuclear power plants “poses a dangerous, long-term health and environmental risk.”

In its ruling, the appeals court invalidated the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 2010 updates to the Waste Confidence Rule and also the Temporary Storage Rule and directed the commission to fully comply with federal law.

In response, the NRC today put a hold on nine construction and operating licenses, eight license renewals, one operating license, and one early site permit.

The court noted that, after decades of failure to site a permanent geologic repository, including 20 years of working on the now-abandoned Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada, the NRC “has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository.”

Therefore, it is possible that spent fuel will be stored at reactor sites “on a permanent basis,” the court said.

In its order today, the five-member NRC said, “Waste confidence undergirds certain agency licensing decisions, in particular new reactor licensing and reactor license renewal.”

... continue reading at Environment News Service (h/t EneNews).

Notice that this is a problem shared by all or most states with nuclear energy: what to do with spent fuel (which is even more toxic than the original fuel it came from, the term "spent" is misleading here: it's almost weapon-grade plutonium what results from nuclear power plant operations)? 

Most of the problems with nuclear are long term, which is not properly factored when the previsions of profits are made and which is now resulting in a most dangerous game of extend and pretend, of which a Fukushima is just the worst symptom. 

The sad and most dangerous reality is, that, in the midst of a global economic crisis of major proportions, we have to fix what the generations of our fathers and grandfathers made wrong, thinking only in the short term and without properly addressing the real long term costs: like where to store residues that are extremely toxic and dangerous forever or what to do when of those things explode, as unavoidably would happen (if it can go wrong, and it can, it will eventually go wrong).

Time to change course because the accumulated problems are already a huge burden. The hidden costs of Capitalist exploitation of Nature and Humankind, of the myth of perpetual "growth", are becoming apparent very specially (not only, of course) in the many nuclear problems that we have to fix now, somehow, at great costs and difficulty.

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