Apr 03

Suggestions to reduce risk of Nuclear Power Plants and Dispose of Nuclear Waste From theBushwhacker.com

The fundamental coin of successful modern civilizations is abundant and cheap energy available for wealth production.  This rule extends from the production of food to manufacturing of essential goods and services and all else that enters the economic sphere of the society being served.

One of the most desirable mechanisms of producing abundant and efficient power and has proven over time to be controlled nuclear fission.  With two serious exceptions, and the current situation in Japan not yet withstanding, it has an enviable safety record with minimal environmental impact, so far.  The consequences of the events sequel to the placement of nuclear power plants near or virtually over major tectonic faults in the Earth’s crust and adjacent to massive bodies of water should have been anticipated.  Mother Nature, it turns out, is very unforgiving of such oversights.  The tuition for such lessons are often unacceptably high.

No doubt many design and placement parameters for such plant construction will receive much attention over the coming years.  Addendums to redundant cooling systems, such as off site gravity feed water towers with direct  lines to the reactors should become standard supplements.  Siting such towers over water tables such that they can be replenished with pumps from ground water sources should also be included and powered by auxiliary generators with redundant fuel sources that can power the pumps and the reactor site itself through under ground conduits.  Such systems should be contained in secure radiation proof bunkers upwind of the reactors and the operators enclosed with proper equipment and supplies to man the system throughout any emergency.

The next problem, one of long standing neglect, is the storage of spent fuel rods on site.  Unusable fuel that cannot or will not be recycled must be disposed of in absolutely secure fashion.  In the early part of this century, around 2003 if memory serves, the United States agreed, along with other nations, not to dispose of nuclear waste in the great seas of the planet.  Although of admirable intent this author believes this decision must be revisited as it precludes a nearly perfect system of waste disposal.

The deep subduction trenches of the Pacific are six to seven miles deep.  (Note: the Challenger Deep Trench in the Western Pacific is seven miles deep and is hundreds of miles long.)  This solution relies on the adage that “the solution to pollution is dilution”.  But not by dispersal in the waters of any ocean.  Rather by reducing the waste material to small particles and blending them with molten glass in a process known as “vitrification”.  The resulting product would be large spheres of solid glass permanently encapsulating and diluting the waste material and emitting very low if any significant radiation.

The spheres would be far too heavy and unwieldy for nefarious interests to make use of before they were transported by ship to the deep trenches.  Each sphere would be enclosed with netting and  small drogue chutes to slow their descent into the depths such that they would not strike the sea floor or each other with enough velocity to cause damage.  The chutes would then decompose and become useless.

In addition, loose material of all sorts is constantly shedding off the  walls of the trenches.  This ongoing activity would quickly and continuously cover any vitrified material deposited into the trenches thus sealing them off from the environment in real time.  The probability of re-emergence of any vitrified spherical deposits for any reason this author would suggest is beyond calculation.  In addition, the ambient water pressure at these depths is in excess of 13,000 pounds  per square inch.  This should be enough of a barrier in itself to deter nefarious interests from attempting any recovery of these materials which are useless for any practical application of any sort.

The most serious and contentious issue pertaining to the ubiquitous deployment of nuclear power plants world wide is proper disposal of accumulated nuclear waste.  As other nations, such as China, become more active in this area developing practical, cost effective and environmentally acceptable solutions to this problem must be quickly and effectively resolved.  If peace among nations is to be maintained, so must abundant, reliable and inexpensive access to energy.

This author believes this approach needs serious examination, free of agenda driven influences, to determine  it’s expedient and practical value.    The international agreement, or moratorium, entered into in the early part of this century and which bars the use of the seas for nuclear waste needs to be revisited and corrected to permit this solution to unusable nuclear waste disposal.  It should be noted that this is not a unique idea.  Several nations have already involved themselves developing vitrification techniques.

UPDATE: theBushwhacker has now learned WHY the above method is not being used to dispose of nuclear waste and confirms a long held suspicion.

YUCCA MOUNTAIN:  Billions of dollars have been spent to construct a secure repository for active nuclear waste material in an area known as Jackass Flats, Nevada and specifically in Yucca Mountain. The reason I call it a repository is that the intent and purpose of the facility is not disposal of the material, but storage of the material for eventual retrieval and reprocessing to refuel a growing number of modern nuclear reactors that our nation will need in the century ahead.  It seems that nuclear fuel rods only consume about 3% of their potential energy during their first useful cycle.  Reprocessing refreshes the rods and this can be done several times.

Non-usable or “spent” waste that is of no further value is apparently so minute in volume that it can readily be disposed or stored without the elaborate and expensive “vitrification” processes required to do so, let alone the political resistance that must be anticipated.

Realistically, this is a sound policy for conservation of a valuable and expensive resource.  This is the policy employed by the French and though reprocessing itself is an expensive procedure, seems to work quite well for their national interests. (The French are known for their policies of independent sovereignty and action in their own interests.) Indeed, going forward, we can only expect the mining and processing costs of raw materials to obtain adequate fuel for our reactors to escalate.

The current problem with Yucca Mountain, although ready and waiting to accommodate its assigned purpose, is inaccessibility.  Unless empirical and compelling evidence is revealed justifying his obscure logic, this is due to the obstinate whim of one man.  The Senator from Nevada, that champion of the Cowboy Poetry Festival and subsidizer of same, Harry Reid.  This has been a costly, unnecessary and unwarranted exercise of power. The people of Nevada might want to reassess the value of this representative to their welfare and that of the Nation.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/apr/12/despite-house-gop-push-harry-reid-declares-yucca-d/

I have this information from reliable and qualified sources.

One source worked  for over 20 years with GE operating businesses including GE Nuclear Energy and he has also served as a consultant for clients such as the US Department of Energy advising them on complex issues including  nuclear reactor projects and the management of spent nuclear fuel.  He is an active member of the American Nuclear Society.

Another is one of our nation’s foremost experts on nuclear power. In  the aftermath of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami has unfolded, she has been called upon by NBC, FOX News, CNN, the New York Times, and many others to explain and help bring clarity to the situation. She has 30 years of experience in the nuclear industry primarily with GE Nuclear Energy, departing as Vice President for Engineering Quality. Presently  she serves as a consultant to a wide range of clients in the nuclear industry.

UPDATE: If Yucca Flats is off limits for waste storage/disposal the next possibility being considered to accomplish the same objectives are the salt caverns in some of the Western states that have been stable for hundreds of thousands of years.

UPDATE: theBushwhacker has explored an alternate nuclear fuel source that may prove more abundant and manageable and therefore safer to utilize than Uranium fueled models.  It is called the Thorium Molten-salt (MSR) reactor.

For more complete information search here:

http://www.thorium.tv/en/thorium_reactor/thorium_reactor_1.php

July 2011 issue of Popular Science and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium

Briefly, the Thorium reactor has a highly effective passive shut down system that virtually eliminates the chance of a meltdown, can be built in smaller units capable of secure deployment and distribution over a wider or more remote areas, does not operate under potentially explosive pressures, uses a fuel that is four times more abundant than uranium, is apparently more efficient. (one pound of thorium produces as much power as 300 pounds of uranium or 3.5 million pounds of coal.) SOURCE< July issue of Popular Science Magazine.  Apparently a thorium reactor had been modeled and constructed experimentally in this country in the early 1960s and worked and ran for three years before being shut down.  The Chinese and India are now developing this technology for their own use and seem to have abundant domestic sources of thorium.

This author urges the reader to obtain a copy of the July 2011 issue of Popular Science and go to the above links to become more thoroughly familiar with this technology and be able to question our representatives with knowledgeable authority as to its potential use.  THIS IS AN ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT ENERGY CONSIDERATION GOING FORWARD.  DO YOUR HOME WORK.

Updates to follow on this topic.




©  theBushwhacker.com 2011

- theBushwhacker

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