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DEBATE OF THE WEEK: SHOULD WE STAY THE COURSE ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN?

By William Tucker
This week’s rapid-fire developments have once again focused the discussion back on that perennial issue – and anti-nuclear trump card – “What do you do with the waste?” Now we’re back to square one. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has rejected Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s proposed Yucca Mountain license withdrawal and posed the question that a lot of people thought should be asked in the first place: “Where’s the scientific basis for closing the Yucca Mountain repository?”

Obviously, the withdrawal was just a political decision. But the reversal of the Obama Administration’s efforts, which include kicking the can down the road via a Blue Ribbon Commission, may only lead us back into a labyrinth. Some entity is certain to challenge any outcome in court (cases are already filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals). That will lead to a long judiciary proceeding that will take years to resolve, maybe even leading up to the Supreme Court. Whatever the outcome, it is not likely to be based on the science.

Meanwhile, to the extent that you link new or current nuclear plants with resolution of the back-end, the future of nuclear hangs twisting in the wind. So maybe it’s time to pose another question, “Why are we having this discussion in the first place?”

How did we ever get to the point of digging a $90 billion hole in the ground to bury valuable material when other countries are embracing recycling technologies that greatly reduce the footprint of a repository? Why we got into the argument in historical terms is well known.

In 1972, a New Yorker writer named John McPhee living in Princeton met an eccentric former Defense Department bomb designer named Ted Taylor who also lived in Princeton. After designing the Davy Crockett and other battlefield weapons, Taylor had become somewhat conscious-stricken and decided if he could design a bomb in his garage anyone else could as well. Taylor convinced McPhee that stealing plutonium out of an American reprocessing plant would be easy and that by the 1990s “hundreds of explosions” of homemade nuclear weapons and terrorist bombs would going off in American cities. McPhee packaged all these fears in The Curve of Binding Energy (which still sells well on Amazon) and the rest is history. America’s abandonment of recycling under President Carter’s Administration is the reason for Yucca Mountain.

So is the project worth pursuing? Or, contrarily, is it worth following Secretary Chu through the “not-invented-here” exercise looking for some way to recycle that doesn’t simply duplicate the French?  Or, once again, does at-reactor dry cask storage offer such a clear and obvious bridge — as also suggested by Secretary Chu –that we don’t have to think about this for another 50 years? What’s your opinion?

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42 Responses to “DEBATE OF THE WEEK: SHOULD WE STAY THE COURSE ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN?”

  1. Eric Knox Says:

    Bill,

    You are right on target but you need to be very careful with the footprint reduction argument as it is not exactly accurate. I’d be happy to discuss it with you again if you’d like.

    Eric

  2. Eric Knox Says:

    Bill,

    You are right on target but you need to be very careful with the footprint reduction argument as it is not exactly accurate. I’d be happy to discuss it with you again if you’d like.

    Eric

  3. Eric Knox Says:

    Bill,

    You are right on target but you need to be very careful with the footprint reduction argument as it is not exactly accurate. I’d be happy to discuss it with you again if you’d like.

    Eric

  4. White Flinter Says:

    This is an easy one. A modified stay the course.

    1) Finish the Yucca Mountain license application (NRC Commission should not even take up the issue of reversing the ASLB decision!);

    2) Implement some kind of government corp with a funding fix;

    3) Move forward with a Yucca repository premised on mostly high-level waste (and immediate acceptance of defense waste and shut-down plant fuel;

    4) Incentivize the deployment of one or more recycling facilities with a Gen 3+ proliferation resistant approach

    5) Reassert “Waste Confidence” Congressionally to provide some public confidence while all this is in motion.

  5. White Flinter Says:

    This is an easy one. A modified stay the course.

    1) Finish the Yucca Mountain license application (NRC Commission should not even take up the issue of reversing the ASLB decision!);

    2) Implement some kind of government corp with a funding fix;

    3) Move forward with a Yucca repository premised on mostly high-level waste (and immediate acceptance of defense waste and shut-down plant fuel;

    4) Incentivize the deployment of one or more recycling facilities with a Gen 3+ proliferation resistant approach

    5) Reassert “Waste Confidence” Congressionally to provide some public confidence while all this is in motion.

  6. White Flinter Says:

    This is an easy one. A modified stay the course.

    1) Finish the Yucca Mountain license application (NRC Commission should not even take up the issue of reversing the ASLB decision!);

    2) Implement some kind of government corp with a funding fix;

    3) Move forward with a Yucca repository premised on mostly high-level waste (and immediate acceptance of defense waste and shut-down plant fuel;

    4) Incentivize the deployment of one or more recycling facilities with a Gen 3+ proliferation resistant approach

    5) Reassert “Waste Confidence” Congressionally to provide some public confidence while all this is in motion.

  7. Charles W. Pennington Says:

    The fundamentals seem to me to be, as follows:

    i) YM is certainly not the perfect solution for the U.S. fuel cycle; as Ted Rockwell has argued for years, reprocessing is a far better approach from the total energy extraction, waste quantity and lifetime, and U utilization perspectives, among others;

    ii) YM represents a political solution to a technical problem, but it is a solution that was arrived at in a non-partisan fashion and represented a path forward to resolving the contrived “nuclear waste problem;” in this case, the “perfect” was not allowed to become the enemy of the “good;” YM still is an agreed-upon, non-partisan solution;

    iii) now is not the time to be reverting to policies that sustain the idea of the perfect being the enemy of the good; we have spent too many billions on decent science to let YM become a rathole;

    iii) whether YM ever operates is irrelevant to its “true” purpose and function; a license approval from the NRC for YM shows that repository disposal is an option, whether needed or not, and that we have some flexibility to look more closely at “perfect” options at that time, should we desire; YM shows that reasonable people with an unbiased approach to science can demonstrate nuclear waste will not be some contiuous hazard to humanity;

    iv) flouting the law and allowing the termination of YM (or any national project involving scientific investigation) for purely political reasons is far short of prudent and forms a preposterous basis for asserting that government entities will support the nuclear option in the future; there would remain little credibilty to any future promises of U.S. government energy policy implementation; terminating YM might make sense at some point in the future and for other reasons, but using political flim-flam as a basis disrespects the organization, people, and process that allowed YM to become the back-end “closure” approach for the U.S..

    There are other less important fundamentals, of course, but I would argue that these dictate a clear, preferred course of action to maintain a non-partisan, “compromise” approach to nuclear waste (all political solutions will be compromises, so reprocessing will not be achieved without similar, but imperfect, compromises). The licensing of YM should be vigorously pursued to completion, but construction/operation should be well considered after licensing before full pursuit. YM’s true purpose and value will be that it is licesnsed and can be pursued, if approapriate and desired. Therefore, the once-through, U.S. fuel cycle can be “closed,” if desired.

  8. Charles W. Pennington Says:

    The fundamentals seem to me to be, as follows:

    i) YM is certainly not the perfect solution for the U.S. fuel cycle; as Ted Rockwell has argued for years, reprocessing is a far better approach from the total energy extraction, waste quantity and lifetime, and U utilization perspectives, among others;

    ii) YM represents a political solution to a technical problem, but it is a solution that was arrived at in a non-partisan fashion and represented a path forward to resolving the contrived “nuclear waste problem;” in this case, the “perfect” was not allowed to become the enemy of the “good;” YM still is an agreed-upon, non-partisan solution;

    iii) now is not the time to be reverting to policies that sustain the idea of the perfect being the enemy of the good; we have spent too many billions on decent science to let YM become a rathole;

    iii) whether YM ever operates is irrelevant to its “true” purpose and function; a license approval from the NRC for YM shows that repository disposal is an option, whether needed or not, and that we have some flexibility to look more closely at “perfect” options at that time, should we desire; YM shows that reasonable people with an unbiased approach to science can demonstrate nuclear waste will not be some contiuous hazard to humanity;

    iv) flouting the law and allowing the termination of YM (or any national project involving scientific investigation) for purely political reasons is far short of prudent and forms a preposterous basis for asserting that government entities will support the nuclear option in the future; there would remain little credibilty to any future promises of U.S. government energy policy implementation; terminating YM might make sense at some point in the future and for other reasons, but using political flim-flam as a basis disrespects the organization, people, and process that allowed YM to become the back-end “closure” approach for the U.S..

    There are other less important fundamentals, of course, but I would argue that these dictate a clear, preferred course of action to maintain a non-partisan, “compromise” approach to nuclear waste (all political solutions will be compromises, so reprocessing will not be achieved without similar, but imperfect, compromises). The licensing of YM should be vigorously pursued to completion, but construction/operation should be well considered after licensing before full pursuit. YM’s true purpose and value will be that it is licesnsed and can be pursued, if approapriate and desired. Therefore, the once-through, U.S. fuel cycle can be “closed,” if desired.

  9. Charles W. Pennington Says:

    The fundamentals seem to me to be, as follows:

    i) YM is certainly not the perfect solution for the U.S. fuel cycle; as Ted Rockwell has argued for years, reprocessing is a far better approach from the total energy extraction, waste quantity and lifetime, and U utilization perspectives, among others;

    ii) YM represents a political solution to a technical problem, but it is a solution that was arrived at in a non-partisan fashion and represented a path forward to resolving the contrived “nuclear waste problem;” in this case, the “perfect” was not allowed to become the enemy of the “good;” YM still is an agreed-upon, non-partisan solution;

    iii) now is not the time to be reverting to policies that sustain the idea of the perfect being the enemy of the good; we have spent too many billions on decent science to let YM become a rathole;

    iii) whether YM ever operates is irrelevant to its “true” purpose and function; a license approval from the NRC for YM shows that repository disposal is an option, whether needed or not, and that we have some flexibility to look more closely at “perfect” options at that time, should we desire; YM shows that reasonable people with an unbiased approach to science can demonstrate nuclear waste will not be some contiuous hazard to humanity;

    iv) flouting the law and allowing the termination of YM (or any national project involving scientific investigation) for purely political reasons is far short of prudent and forms a preposterous basis for asserting that government entities will support the nuclear option in the future; there would remain little credibilty to any future promises of U.S. government energy policy implementation; terminating YM might make sense at some point in the future and for other reasons, but using political flim-flam as a basis disrespects the organization, people, and process that allowed YM to become the back-end “closure” approach for the U.S..

    There are other less important fundamentals, of course, but I would argue that these dictate a clear, preferred course of action to maintain a non-partisan, “compromise” approach to nuclear waste (all political solutions will be compromises, so reprocessing will not be achieved without similar, but imperfect, compromises). The licensing of YM should be vigorously pursued to completion, but construction/operation should be well considered after licensing before full pursuit. YM’s true purpose and value will be that it is licesnsed and can be pursued, if approapriate and desired. Therefore, the once-through, U.S. fuel cycle can be “closed,” if desired.

  10. Eric Says:

    Curt, You should buy Bill Tucker’s book, “Terrestrial Energy.” All of his sources are referenced there.

  11. Eric Says:

    Curt, You should buy Bill Tucker’s book, “Terrestrial Energy.” All of his sources are referenced there.

  12. Eric Says:

    Curt, You should buy Bill Tucker’s book, “Terrestrial Energy.” All of his sources are referenced there.

  13. Ted Rockwell Says:

    The problem is that Yucca Mountain, as now defined by the Courts, the National Academies, the President, the DOE et al. poses an unsolvable problem: a million years, 4 mrem/year, unknown leakage paths. We don’t know whether the human race will exist at that time! YM may be under water or in an active volcano.

    Obama, whatever his motives, has created a situation that calls for redefinition of the problem. He said that the material does not create any problem where it is. We must not pursue the legal path of re-establishing the original YM specs. That would initiate an endless legal and political battle with no possible useful outcome.

    Let’s define the problem we should have defined long ago, and then set about to solve that rather simple technical solution. Along the way, we may have to reverse some laws or rules, but that is the most productive path. Let’s hurry up and get onto that path, before the lawyers convince us we can’t get there.

  14. Ted Rockwell Says:

    The problem is that Yucca Mountain, as now defined by the Courts, the National Academies, the President, the DOE et al. poses an unsolvable problem: a million years, 4 mrem/year, unknown leakage paths. We don’t know whether the human race will exist at that time! YM may be under water or in an active volcano.

    Obama, whatever his motives, has created a situation that calls for redefinition of the problem. He said that the material does not create any problem where it is. We must not pursue the legal path of re-establishing the original YM specs. That would initiate an endless legal and political battle with no possible useful outcome.

    Let’s define the problem we should have defined long ago, and then set about to solve that rather simple technical solution. Along the way, we may have to reverse some laws or rules, but that is the most productive path. Let’s hurry up and get onto that path, before the lawyers convince us we can’t get there.

  15. Ted Rockwell Says:

    The problem is that Yucca Mountain, as now defined by the Courts, the National Academies, the President, the DOE et al. poses an unsolvable problem: a million years, 4 mrem/year, unknown leakage paths. We don’t know whether the human race will exist at that time! YM may be under water or in an active volcano.

    Obama, whatever his motives, has created a situation that calls for redefinition of the problem. He said that the material does not create any problem where it is. We must not pursue the legal path of re-establishing the original YM specs. That would initiate an endless legal and political battle with no possible useful outcome.

    Let’s define the problem we should have defined long ago, and then set about to solve that rather simple technical solution. Along the way, we may have to reverse some laws or rules, but that is the most productive path. Let’s hurry up and get onto that path, before the lawyers convince us we can’t get there.

  16. Catawba Carl Says:

    Whatever we do, it is clear that we can’t continue to play a shell game with new plants and on-site storage. Utilities are kidding themselves if they think we can perpetually con the public using a mirage of at-reactor storage for 100 years. Sure it’s safe but eventually host sites for new plants are going to figure it out and realize we are indeed kicking the can down the road at their expense as well as their grandchildren. Exelon CEO John Rowe to his credit has called this bluff and said they won’t build a new plant until there is a path forward on the backend. We need a kitchen’s sink of options, Yucca Mountain, restructuring, recyling. The Blue Ribbon Commission is not among them.

  17. Catawba Carl Says:

    Whatever we do, it is clear that we can’t continue to play a shell game with new plants and on-site storage. Utilities are kidding themselves if they think we can perpetually con the public using a mirage of at-reactor storage for 100 years. Sure it’s safe but eventually host sites for new plants are going to figure it out and realize we are indeed kicking the can down the road at their expense as well as their grandchildren. Exelon CEO John Rowe to his credit has called this bluff and said they won’t build a new plant until there is a path forward on the backend. We need a kitchen’s sink of options, Yucca Mountain, restructuring, recyling. The Blue Ribbon Commission is not among them.

  18. Catawba Carl Says:

    Whatever we do, it is clear that we can’t continue to play a shell game with new plants and on-site storage. Utilities are kidding themselves if they think we can perpetually con the public using a mirage of at-reactor storage for 100 years. Sure it’s safe but eventually host sites for new plants are going to figure it out and realize we are indeed kicking the can down the road at their expense as well as their grandchildren. Exelon CEO John Rowe to his credit has called this bluff and said they won’t build a new plant until there is a path forward on the backend. We need a kitchen’s sink of options, Yucca Mountain, restructuring, recyling. The Blue Ribbon Commission is not among them.

  19. Margaret Harding Says:

    Bill,

    A good question

    I was disappointed when the lawsuit on YM went forward. Two reasons:

    1) Harry Reid was elected primarily because his anti-Yucca Mountain stance was popular within Nevada. Be keeping the controversy alive, there is potential for him to rally those votes again and remain in office. Especially since the Republicans have managed to nominate a somewhat weaker outsider opponent. His presence in Washington, and the administration’s need to placate him is far more damaging to the industry (Jakzco’s appointment for example) than any perceived lack of a permanent repository.

    2) There are better things to do with discharge fuel, but the industry needs to get going on new build first. Letting the Blue Ribbon Commission kill a couple of years and demonstrating that we can build and operate new nuclear, THEN going after those alternatives won’t over tax both the political and bureaucratic (NRC) arenas in government.

  20. Margaret Harding Says:

    Bill,

    A good question

    I was disappointed when the lawsuit on YM went forward. Two reasons:

    1) Harry Reid was elected primarily because his anti-Yucca Mountain stance was popular within Nevada. Be keeping the controversy alive, there is potential for him to rally those votes again and remain in office. Especially since the Republicans have managed to nominate a somewhat weaker outsider opponent. His presence in Washington, and the administration’s need to placate him is far more damaging to the industry (Jakzco’s appointment for example) than any perceived lack of a permanent repository.

    2) There are better things to do with discharge fuel, but the industry needs to get going on new build first. Letting the Blue Ribbon Commission kill a couple of years and demonstrating that we can build and operate new nuclear, THEN going after those alternatives won’t over tax both the political and bureaucratic (NRC) arenas in government.

  21. Margaret Harding Says:

    Bill,

    A good question

    I was disappointed when the lawsuit on YM went forward. Two reasons:

    1) Harry Reid was elected primarily because his anti-Yucca Mountain stance was popular within Nevada. Be keeping the controversy alive, there is potential for him to rally those votes again and remain in office. Especially since the Republicans have managed to nominate a somewhat weaker outsider opponent. His presence in Washington, and the administration’s need to placate him is far more damaging to the industry (Jakzco’s appointment for example) than any perceived lack of a permanent repository.

    2) There are better things to do with discharge fuel, but the industry needs to get going on new build first. Letting the Blue Ribbon Commission kill a couple of years and demonstrating that we can build and operate new nuclear, THEN going after those alternatives won’t over tax both the political and bureaucratic (NRC) arenas in government.

  22. Light Saber Says:

    There is logic to Margaret Hardings’ laissez faire rationale. If the Obama Administration’s motives were indeed pure e.g. to review and enhance the current backend strategy — this might be supportable. But to wantonly scrap a $10 billion taxpayer investment to help get someone re-elected and leave the industry without plausible backend path forward at an extraordinarily delicate time for new nuclear is beyond the pale. Moreover, the Blue Ribbon Commission is nothing more than a smoke screen to blow off any commitment to getting anything done in this generation. This is shameful for an Administration that claims that science not politics would prevail. Fortunately, it appears that — thanks to the ASLB which blew the cover off this sham — the rule of law will prevail.

  23. Light Saber Says:

    There is logic to Margaret Hardings’ laissez faire rationale. If the Obama Administration’s motives were indeed pure e.g. to review and enhance the current backend strategy — this might be supportable. But to wantonly scrap a $10 billion taxpayer investment to help get someone re-elected and leave the industry without plausible backend path forward at an extraordinarily delicate time for new nuclear is beyond the pale. Moreover, the Blue Ribbon Commission is nothing more than a smoke screen to blow off any commitment to getting anything done in this generation. This is shameful for an Administration that claims that science not politics would prevail. Fortunately, it appears that — thanks to the ASLB which blew the cover off this sham — the rule of law will prevail.

  24. Light Saber Says:

    There is logic to Margaret Hardings’ laissez faire rationale. If the Obama Administration’s motives were indeed pure e.g. to review and enhance the current backend strategy — this might be supportable. But to wantonly scrap a $10 billion taxpayer investment to help get someone re-elected and leave the industry without plausible backend path forward at an extraordinarily delicate time for new nuclear is beyond the pale. Moreover, the Blue Ribbon Commission is nothing more than a smoke screen to blow off any commitment to getting anything done in this generation. This is shameful for an Administration that claims that science not politics would prevail. Fortunately, it appears that — thanks to the ASLB which blew the cover off this sham — the rule of law will prevail.

  25. Duncan Says:

    We should never have banned nuclear fuel recycling in the first place.
    Underground storage should have been designed for long-term but temporary storage of fission products, maybe. Radiation-contaminated medical waste, even, could go into underground storage.
    Not valuable fuel.

    Is it bad to research better recycling technologies than the French have used?
    My understanding was that the Japanese and Indians had both come up with significant improvements in recent years. Heck, didn’t the French just open a new recycling center that uses 3% of the energy the old center used for the same amount of fuel?

    As long as we’re not running short of fuel yet and the dry cask storage is good for a few decades more, I think Chu’s idea of focusing on recycling research is a great idea. Except that it would be good politically to have at least some recycling going on now, so the ignorant anti-nukes would have to find something else to whinge about.

  26. Duncan Says:

    We should never have banned nuclear fuel recycling in the first place.
    Underground storage should have been designed for long-term but temporary storage of fission products, maybe. Radiation-contaminated medical waste, even, could go into underground storage.
    Not valuable fuel.

    Is it bad to research better recycling technologies than the French have used?
    My understanding was that the Japanese and Indians had both come up with significant improvements in recent years. Heck, didn’t the French just open a new recycling center that uses 3% of the energy the old center used for the same amount of fuel?

    As long as we’re not running short of fuel yet and the dry cask storage is good for a few decades more, I think Chu’s idea of focusing on recycling research is a great idea. Except that it would be good politically to have at least some recycling going on now, so the ignorant anti-nukes would have to find something else to whinge about.

  27. Duncan Says:

    We should never have banned nuclear fuel recycling in the first place.
    Underground storage should have been designed for long-term but temporary storage of fission products, maybe. Radiation-contaminated medical waste, even, could go into underground storage.
    Not valuable fuel.

    Is it bad to research better recycling technologies than the French have used?
    My understanding was that the Japanese and Indians had both come up with significant improvements in recent years. Heck, didn’t the French just open a new recycling center that uses 3% of the energy the old center used for the same amount of fuel?

    As long as we’re not running short of fuel yet and the dry cask storage is good for a few decades more, I think Chu’s idea of focusing on recycling research is a great idea. Except that it would be good politically to have at least some recycling going on now, so the ignorant anti-nukes would have to find something else to whinge about.

  28. Capitol Dome Says:

    Duncan #10. Agreed that we have an opportunity to enhance the French paradigm but that doesn’t mean that you stop everything for up to 50 years as Secretary Chu has suggested and go rainbow chasing at the National laboratories. We can in fact both walk and chew gum. Deploy some kind of upgraded French (originally American) reprocessing technology and work toward a Gen 4 approach in tandem with fast reactors. It’s time for the U.S. to show leadership on recycling — and the non-proliferation argument doesn’t fly. Iran and North Korea have both nuclearized in the absence of reprocessing in the Uniited States. Let’s move forward along with Yucca Mountain since a repository is requisite under any circumstances.

  29. Capitol Dome Says:

    Duncan #10. Agreed that we have an opportunity to enhance the French paradigm but that doesn’t mean that you stop everything for up to 50 years as Secretary Chu has suggested and go rainbow chasing at the National laboratories. We can in fact both walk and chew gum. Deploy some kind of upgraded French (originally American) reprocessing technology and work toward a Gen 4 approach in tandem with fast reactors. It’s time for the U.S. to show leadership on recycling — and the non-proliferation argument doesn’t fly. Iran and North Korea have both nuclearized in the absence of reprocessing in the Uniited States. Let’s move forward along with Yucca Mountain since a repository is requisite under any circumstances.

  30. Capitol Dome Says:

    Duncan #10. Agreed that we have an opportunity to enhance the French paradigm but that doesn’t mean that you stop everything for up to 50 years as Secretary Chu has suggested and go rainbow chasing at the National laboratories. We can in fact both walk and chew gum. Deploy some kind of upgraded French (originally American) reprocessing technology and work toward a Gen 4 approach in tandem with fast reactors. It’s time for the U.S. to show leadership on recycling — and the non-proliferation argument doesn’t fly. Iran and North Korea have both nuclearized in the absence of reprocessing in the Uniited States. Let’s move forward along with Yucca Mountain since a repository is requisite under any circumstances.

  31. Jim Holm Says:

    YM is a good place to store all kinds of nuclear waste – medical, industrial, etc., – a great place to stash all kinds of civilian vitrified waste. Don’t forget, reprocessing produces vitrified waste.

    The electricity users of America bought and paid for that place.

    Let’s not let Yucca Mountain itself go to waste.

  32. Jim Holm Says:

    YM is a good place to store all kinds of nuclear waste – medical, industrial, etc., – a great place to stash all kinds of civilian vitrified waste. Don’t forget, reprocessing produces vitrified waste.

    The electricity users of America bought and paid for that place.

    Let’s not let Yucca Mountain itself go to waste.

  33. Jim Holm Says:

    YM is a good place to store all kinds of nuclear waste – medical, industrial, etc., – a great place to stash all kinds of civilian vitrified waste. Don’t forget, reprocessing produces vitrified waste.

    The electricity users of America bought and paid for that place.

    Let’s not let Yucca Mountain itself go to waste.

  34. Charley Haughney Says:

    DOE’s politically-driven obsession with terminating the YMP is an assault on our democratic process. Is there even a vestige of ethics among Reid, Chu, Pete Miller, and Browner? Even after the ASLB ordered disapproval of DOE’s Motion the Withdraw, DOE’s shutdown actions have continued defiantly unabated.

    Even if DOE finally does what it’s told by either the ASLB or the DC Circuit, I am pessimistic that this incarnation of DOE could properly champion the CA application, especially during the evidentiary portion of the hearing. Most, if not all, of the key DOE witnesses have been dismissed. Nearly 300 contentions to be litigated in this unique proceeding would seem to be an insurmountable technical and legal challenge. And then there are the prospects of subsequent court challenges.

    All that said, the FedCorp coupled with a serious effort to develop a twentieth century reprocessing program would seem to be a better success path.

  35. Charley Haughney Says:

    DOE’s politically-driven obsession with terminating the YMP is an assault on our democratic process. Is there even a vestige of ethics among Reid, Chu, Pete Miller, and Browner? Even after the ASLB ordered disapproval of DOE’s Motion the Withdraw, DOE’s shutdown actions have continued defiantly unabated.

    Even if DOE finally does what it’s told by either the ASLB or the DC Circuit, I am pessimistic that this incarnation of DOE could properly champion the CA application, especially during the evidentiary portion of the hearing. Most, if not all, of the key DOE witnesses have been dismissed. Nearly 300 contentions to be litigated in this unique proceeding would seem to be an insurmountable technical and legal challenge. And then there are the prospects of subsequent court challenges.

    All that said, the FedCorp coupled with a serious effort to develop a twentieth century reprocessing program would seem to be a better success path.

  36. Charley Haughney Says:

    DOE’s politically-driven obsession with terminating the YMP is an assault on our democratic process. Is there even a vestige of ethics among Reid, Chu, Pete Miller, and Browner? Even after the ASLB ordered disapproval of DOE’s Motion the Withdraw, DOE’s shutdown actions have continued defiantly unabated.

    Even if DOE finally does what it’s told by either the ASLB or the DC Circuit, I am pessimistic that this incarnation of DOE could properly champion the CA application, especially during the evidentiary portion of the hearing. Most, if not all, of the key DOE witnesses have been dismissed. Nearly 300 contentions to be litigated in this unique proceeding would seem to be an insurmountable technical and legal challenge. And then there are the prospects of subsequent court challenges.

    All that said, the FedCorp coupled with a serious effort to develop a twentieth century reprocessing program would seem to be a better success path.

  37. Steve Aplin Says:

    Good points here, and I especially like Capitol Dome’s. Iran and DPRK couldn’t have cared less whether or not the U.S. was reprocessing when they decided to start their weapons programs. The whole reprocessing-leads-to-proliferation argument is just bogus.

    Maybe the Administration’s 123 negotiations with Jordan have something to do with this. Jordan signed onto GNEP, obviously as a recipient state, meaning it agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing. Now Jordan is insisting on its rights to those activities under the NPT (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6610OQ.htm). What changed? Yucca Mountain! With no YM, the U.S. cannot give credible assurances of spent fuel take-back.

    The Administration needs Jordan to show that the UAE isn’t the exception that proves the rule (UAE agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing), and to get Jordan it needs Yucca Mt. My prediction is that GNEP is reborn (under a different name, of course).

    The problem is the short term. Margaret Harding’s point is therefore excellent and totally inconvenient. Losing the Yucca withdrawal motion just gives anti-Yucca forces political momentum, meaning there’s a good chance the issue will (1) gobble resources and waste time, and (2) remain unresolved.

  38. Steve Aplin Says:

    Good points here, and I especially like Capitol Dome’s. Iran and DPRK couldn’t have cared less whether or not the U.S. was reprocessing when they decided to start their weapons programs. The whole reprocessing-leads-to-proliferation argument is just bogus.

    Maybe the Administration’s 123 negotiations with Jordan have something to do with this. Jordan signed onto GNEP, obviously as a recipient state, meaning it agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing. Now Jordan is insisting on its rights to those activities under the NPT (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6610OQ.htm). What changed? Yucca Mountain! With no YM, the U.S. cannot give credible assurances of spent fuel take-back.

    The Administration needs Jordan to show that the UAE isn’t the exception that proves the rule (UAE agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing), and to get Jordan it needs Yucca Mt. My prediction is that GNEP is reborn (under a different name, of course).

    The problem is the short term. Margaret Harding’s point is therefore excellent and totally inconvenient. Losing the Yucca withdrawal motion just gives anti-Yucca forces political momentum, meaning there’s a good chance the issue will (1) gobble resources and waste time, and (2) remain unresolved.

  39. Steve Aplin Says:

    Good points here, and I especially like Capitol Dome’s. Iran and DPRK couldn’t have cared less whether or not the U.S. was reprocessing when they decided to start their weapons programs. The whole reprocessing-leads-to-proliferation argument is just bogus.

    Maybe the Administration’s 123 negotiations with Jordan have something to do with this. Jordan signed onto GNEP, obviously as a recipient state, meaning it agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing. Now Jordan is insisting on its rights to those activities under the NPT (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6610OQ.htm). What changed? Yucca Mountain! With no YM, the U.S. cannot give credible assurances of spent fuel take-back.

    The Administration needs Jordan to show that the UAE isn’t the exception that proves the rule (UAE agreed to forego enrichment/reprocessing), and to get Jordan it needs Yucca Mt. My prediction is that GNEP is reborn (under a different name, of course).

    The problem is the short term. Margaret Harding’s point is therefore excellent and totally inconvenient. Losing the Yucca withdrawal motion just gives anti-Yucca forces political momentum, meaning there’s a good chance the issue will (1) gobble resources and waste time, and (2) remain unresolved.

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