April 17, 2010 - So long as nuclear advocates insist that public safety depends on the ridiculous requirements of a million years of guaranteed infallible storage in a multi-billion dollar hole in the ground,
American nuclear power will have trouble competing in the real world. There is no valid scientific basis for such a requirement. As President Obama has proclaimed, the used nuclear fuel is perfectly safe where it is. After processing, it can be handled like any other industrial waste of comparable toxicity, of which there are many, in much greater quantities. The only difference is that the nuclear material gets less toxic every day, and becomes quite harmless in a few hundred years. Other, non-nuclear, toxic wastes maintain full toxicity, undiminished, forever.
I recognize that the Yucca Mtn project has represented nearly a billion dollars a year, employing a whole generation of people. But let’s put that money into something productive—like new nuclear plants.
Member, National Academy of Engineering