Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | August 11, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says U.S. DOE testifies to Congress that getting rid of U.S. nuclear waste will cost almost $100 billion –even if no new reactors are built.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that even if no new reactors are built, getting rid of U.S. nuclear waste will cost $96.2 billion and require a major expansion of the planned Nevada waste dump beyond limits imposed by Congress.  The revised cost estimate for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas came as the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, renewed his call for building as many as 45 new power reactors by 2030. Such an expansion would require a waste disposal program well beyond what is envisioned by the current Yucca Mountain project.

The $96.2 billion – in 2007 dollars not accounting for future inflation – includes $13.5 billion already spent on the Yucca project, $54.8 billion for construction and operation over 150 years and closing costs anticipated in 2113. It assumes the site will begin accepting used reactor fuel in 2020 and continue accepting shipments for 50 years.  U.S. DOE has not looked into the financial costs if there were a rush in reactor construction on the scale suggested by McCain.   

Doesn’t it make far more sense to put this money into clean coal technology rather the prospect of spending $100 billion to hold nuclear waste inside a mountain for hundreds of years?  Is anyone else concerned about dumping money into a technology that generates a waste product that requires an almost infinite period of containment?

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