Trending
MOST READ
How judges, probate attorneys, and guardianship orgs abuse the vulnerable

How judges, probate attorneys, and guardianship orgs abuse the vulnerable

News: Mary Dahlman's problem is all about money. A lot of people want at the estimated $20 million trust Dahlman's deceased mother left to her and... By Michael Barajas 9/5/2012
Revamped Footloose is a rebel with a dancin’ cause

Revamped Footloose is a rebel with a dancin’ cause

Film Review: So this is a question I know you’ve asked yourself time and time again: How can they remake an ’80s pop culture classic like Footloose? By Veronica Salinas 10/19/2011
Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

College Issue 2014: Sell clothes. Plato’s Closet is a great place to take your gently worn apparel in exchange for cold, hard cash. They accept clothes, shoes and... By Brittany Minor 8/18/2014
Bun B’s 25-year Reign as King of the Underground

Bun B’s 25-year Reign as King of the Underground

Music: It’s hard to put into context just how long Bun B has been in the rap game, but let’s give it a try. When 17-year old Bernard Freeman laid down... By J.D. Swerzenski 3/5/2014
Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Cynthia Muñoz

Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Cynthia Muñoz

News: Cynthia Muñoz 48; single. Job title: President of Muñoz Public Relations, producer of Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/21/2013
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Lone Star Green

Nuclear waste dump push will likely put Texas back in federal sights

Photo: , License: N/A


Nuclear energy may be on the ropes post Fukushima's explosive meltdowns, but 70 years of U.S. bomb and power plant waste doesn't dissipate so easily. Despite federal promises to the power industry to dispose of their highly toxic, long-lived poisons — and despite utilities collecting more than $25 billion in fees for such from customers — more than 75,000 metric tons of high-level waste is still being stored at nuclear power plants and other sites across the country, including the South Texas Project nuclear complex in Matagorda County.

Not only is radioactive waste extremely difficult to contain, it's also wildly unpopular. Go figure. Proposed radioactive waste dumps have been beaten back by communities for decades: the most recent casualty being Yucca Mountain, the would-be orifice for most of the deadliest power plant waste. But the release last week of President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission's report on how to deal with the problem (glowing and growing by roughly 20 tons per plant per year) has Texas poised to re-enter the national debate as a choice dump location — if for no other reason than the Blue Ribbon Commission's primary recommendation is for a "consent-based" approach to dump siting ("encouraging communities to volunteer to be considered"). Other recommendations include development of both geologic and centralized storage facilities: no more one-stop shops like Yucca. While there'll be renewed interest in rainier states with curtains of granite at their disposal (granite would be nice, this stuff stays hot for tens of thousands of years; that water not so much), "consensus" suggestss a drier patch of West Texas known as Andrews County.

It wasn't so long ago Texas was contending for the radwaste mother load. Before Nevada's Yucca Mountain achieved the ignominious honor in 1987, the Panhandle's salt domes were one of three locations being advanced by the U.S. Department of Energy. Imagine, Deaf Smith County in the "winner's circle" with Yucca and Washington State's Hanford Site.

Nationally, it's become increasingly difficult to find a nuke-power support (43 percent of those polled last year said they would welcome new nukes). But repeated disasters have that way about them. Since Three Mile Island, we've experienced the full-scale explosion of Chernobyl, responsible, according to doctors in Russia and Ukraine, for hundreds of thousands of deaths (mostly young children, the most susceptible to renegade radionuclides). Then came last year's multi-plant explosions at still-leaking Fukushima, the toll of which will be significantly worse.

While the nuke industry gasps for breath, the waste stream hasn't cooled any.

With $12 billion dropped in the Yucca hole, the discovery of fissures that could one day flood the site's chambers suggested the location wasn't up to snuff. (Salt domes were preferable, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said after announcing the pass.) Washington State is likely out, too. The key Cold War facility critical to atomic bomb production outside Hanford, Wash., is proof positive that some genies simply won't stay where they're put. About 60 of 177 underground tanks storing 56 million gallons of radioactive wastes have leaked to date, polluting the groundwater. Radioactive tumbleweeds and jackrabbits are tracked beyond the fence line. And efforts to "vitrify," or convert liquid slurries into a semi-solid state for storage, have hit speed bumps. Hanford researchers recently told USA Today they fear the decade-long $12.3 billion effort to convert the waste could lead to an uncontrolled nuclear reaction. "Engineers and other experts aren't just warning that the way this facility has been operated risks wasting more time and money by proceeding. They're warning that continuing with these plans risks people's lives," said Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus