Thursday, February 09, 2012

New Cost Estimate For Hanford Clean Up

Annette Cary, writing in the TriCity Herald, reports on the in-and-outs of the new $112 Billion guesstimate. Me, I think Congress should boot the foot-dragging DOE off the site and give the budget and responsibility to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army built the place, let them clean it up.

While tiny compared to Hanford (what isn't?), there are numerous small sites around the country, mostly in the east, where ores were refined and feedstocks fabricated as part of the Manhattan Project. These are being cleaned up under FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program). In 1997, under impetus from former Congressman LaFalce of western New York, whose district included several sites, Congress fired DOE and brought in the Corps to deal with these sites. It was like night and day. The DOE foot-dragging gave way to a positive attitude of "let's get the job done." All laws were still complied with; the public still involved. But things started to happen. Try it at Hanford.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Disposal/Storage of Spent/Used Nuclear Waste: What Next?

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has released it's final report, running 180 pdf pages. If you really are a "blue ribbon commission" do you need to call yourself a blue ribbon conmmission? Anyway, the commission came up with a strategy comprised of eight elements:
1. A new, consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities. 2. A new organization dedicated solely to implementing the waste management program and empowered with the authority and resources to succeed. 3. Access to the funds nuclear utility ratepayers are providing for the purpose of nuclear waste management. 4. Prompt efforts to develop one or more geologic disposal facilities. 5. Prompt efforts to develop one or more consolidated storage facilities. 6. Prompt efforts to prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste to consolidated storage and disposal facilities when such facilities become available. 7. Support for continued U.S. innovation in nuclear energy technology and for workforce development. 8. Active U.S. leadership in international efforts to address safety, waste management, non-proliferation, and security concerns.
On page 22 of the report is a bit of history that should be of interest to Washingtonians:
In May 1986, Energy Secretary John Herrington recommended the Hanford site in Washington State, Deaf Smith County in Texas, and Nevada’s Yucca Mountain for detailed site characterization as leading candidates for the nation’s first permanent high-level geologic waste repository. By that time, however, DOE’s efforts to identify promising sites—not only for the two permanent repositories but also for a monitored retrievable storage (MRS) facility—were drawing strong opposition from the elected officials of all potentially affected states. (As an aside, we note that while the federal government’s performance on nuclear waste management has left a lot to be desired, state opposition has played a significant role in the federal government’s failures. As we discuss at length in later chapters, it is clear that the cooperation of affected state governments will be vital to the success of the nuclear waste program going forward.)

Citing rising costs and lower projections for nuclear waste production in the future, Secretary Herrington announced that DOE was suspending efforts to identify and develop a second permanent geologic repository. This announcement also came in May 1986—not surprisingly, it served to intensify the opposition of the three states that had been selected as potential hosts for the first repository.

Faced with a deteriorating political situation and growing recognition that the NWPA’s original timelines and cost assumptions were unrealistic, Congress revisited the issue of nuclear waste management in 1987. The resulting NWPA Amendments Act of 1987 halted then ongoing research in crystalline rock of the type found in the Midwest and along the Atlantic coast, cancelled the second repository program, nullified the selection of Oak Ridge, Tennessee as a potential MRS site, and designated Yucca Mountain as the sole site to be considered for a permanent geologic repository. The decision was widely viewed as political and it provoked strong opposition in Nevada, where the 1987 legislation came to be known as the “Screw Nevada” bill.

Also the report shows that approximately 45% of high-level DOE waste is located at Hanford, more than Savannah River, Idaho, or West Valley. See Fig 11, p. 18. If Yucca Mountain is off the table, Hanford is on the table.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Sustainable Watershed Planning Act

Prof. Campana, the Aquadoc at WaterWired, reports on a bill being worked up in the US House of Representatives that aims "To provide for the sustainable use of the Nation's water resources through the coordinated planning of water resources and water infrastructure, and for other purposes." It's early days yet, but this bears watching.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fish Being Checked for Contaminants Near Hanford

Annette Cary reports in the News Tribune.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Progress Reported on Removing Hexavalent Chromium from Groundwater at Hanford

DOE Press Release
Once all systems along the River are operational, CH2M HILL expects the 100 Area Groundwater Treatment Systems to pump and treat at a rate of more than 90 million gallons per month– over three times the capacity available along the River before the treatment system expansions began.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stimulu$ Gets After Hanford Groundwater

On July 23, the Department of Energy announced the beginning of construction of a $80 million groundwater treatment system at Hanford.
Dr. Inés Triay, U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, today announced that construction of the largest treatment system for contaminated groundwater to date at the U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford Site in southeast Washington State is underway. The $80 million facility is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fish, Dams, and The Economics of Cap-and-Trade

An interesting article by Kim Murphy, writing in the LA Times, with a particular Washington angle.