Nuclear waste is an immediate danger because it’s a plentiful source of dirty bombs or the material to fabricate a real bomb. Terrorists and despots with nothing left to lose as society falls apart during the initial phase of collapse over the next 75 years may be tempted to use this material. And then after that, it’s a hazard for the survivors for thousands more years.
The United States currently has more than 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at about 75 operating and shutdown reactor sites around the country. More than 2,000 tons are being produced each year. The DOE also is storing an additional 2,500 tons of spent fuel and large volumes of high-level nuclear waste, mostly from past weapons programs, at a handful of government-owned sites.
It’s shameful that politics has prevented burying the wastes in as safe a place as possible, such as beneath granite in the North east — but fat chance of that ever happening!
On January 26, 2012, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future today released its final report to the U.S. Energy Secretary, detailing comprehensive recommendations for creating a safe, longterm solution for managing and disposing of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Read all about it in the 180 page pdf below.
I’m not going to summarize it, I think the politics is too daunting, and our economic system too close to collapse for the recommendations to be enacted. Forgive me for being cynical, but my house burned down in 1991 despite cyclical fires every 20 years in the Oakland / Berkeley area for over a century, and the recommendations of numerous blue ribbon panels were ignored every time. Currently there is $5 million in FEMA grant money promised to Oakland for removing the most hazardous eucalyptus that’s been held back since 2005!