Nuke construction will require storage

The high-level nuclear waste stored at Millstone Power Station in Waterford - some of it suspended in cooling pools and the rest in more robust casks - won't be leaving anytime soon. President Obama made the news official this week: The Department of Energy is abandoning plans to use Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent depository for the nation's nuclear reactor waste.

There were certainly problems with Yucca. Transporting spent nuclear fuel rods across the country to the remote location would have been extremely expensive and incredibly controversial. And the estimated cost to maintain the facility - $90 billion over a century - had grown dramatically.

Still, this was more about politics than science. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, represents Nevada and was an early supporter of President Obama in his bid for the presidency. In a recent interview, Sen. Reid said he was looking for suggested new uses for Yucca Mountain. Perhaps construction of an $8-billion water park, since that is how much the DOE invested in studying and preparing Yucca for nuclear waste.

Oddly, the news came just days after the president called for providing up to $54.5 billion in federal loan guarantees to kick-start construction of a new generation of nuclear plants. It will be difficult to get plants approved without plans for the waste.

A new blue-ribbon commission will be considering storage alternatives. In the meantime, Waterford and other communities hosting plants will continue serving as nuclear power and nuclear waste sites.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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