Mr. Bob Thomas, in his recent article titled, "Nuke waste needs more science, not less," indicates that he is beginning to understand the Yucca Mountain project has many problems. Unfortunately, Mr. Thomas does not understand the magnitude of the problem.
Applying the most brilliant minds for six months will not solve the problem. I am happy to read that he now admits the Yucca Mountain project is not a good solution. The transportation of the material to Nevada is the Achilles heel of the Yucca Mountain project. Reprocessing the material in Nevada is not a viable solution and should never be used as a carrot for Nevada to accept the high level nuclear waste.
I have been to a few public hearings and at each one, I have proposed that the country take the next 50 years to develop the direction and technology for disposing of the nuclear waste. The country has to develop a method that does not require the material to be transported.
We presently have the fundamentals to reprocess the material. It is not a clean nor efficient process but with time and focus, our technologist can rise to the problem and develop a viable solution for reprocessing the high level nuclear waste at each nuclear power plant. This development alone will reduce the high level nuclear waste by 87 percent with a significant reduction in the gamma radiation.
This one step means that transportation casks can be fabricated that are far more rugged, thus reducing the terrorist problem and making it possible to transport this material to a local geological repository or some other type of disposal. The technologists, in parallel, can improve the new technology called transmutation, by a process which reduces the high level long half-life material to a material with a short half-life, thus making it harmless in a period of one generation.
In parallel to the technology development, Congress must remove the liability limitation the nuclear power industry enjoys. The industry must be made to compete with the other methods of generating electricity on a level playing field. The industry must assume the risk of their business.
Mr. Thomas, you are on the right path but are still encumbered with information from the dark ages of the nuclear power industry and the propaganda from the nuclear power lobby. Even with that baggage, I feel there is still hope for you.