[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] U.S. to Owe Billions for Delays in Nuclear Dump, Official Says

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Wed Mar 7 09:11:50 CST 2007

NOTE: I am traveling weswtward across the Pacific. Therefore, the 
next news posting will most likely occur on about March 21. I will 
respond to individual Radsafe or Powernet posts from my Blackberry 


*U.S. to Owe Billions for Delays in Nuclear Dump, Official Says
*Reid vows to block nuclear waste bill
*US pushes ahead on mountain nuclear dump
*Accused caught at nuclear site
*Barnwell site draws support
*UK Faces Energy Gap, Needs Quick Nuclear Decision
*Australians will accept nuclear power: Switkowski
*Czechs, Slovaks urge EU to debate nuclear energy

U.S. to Owe Billions for Delays in Nuclear Dump, Official Says 

WASHINGTON, March 6 - The federal government will owe $7 billion in 
damages for delays in opening a nuclear waste dump if the repository 
opens in 2017 - the earliest date now possible - and any further 
delay will raise the price half a billion dollars a year, the head of 
the radioactive waste program said Tuesday.

The money would reimburse current and former nuclear plant operators 
who signed contracts under which the federal government agreed to 
begin accepting their wastes in 1998. 

The official, Edward F. Sproat III, director of the Office of 
Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, said progress toward opening a 
waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., near Las Vegas, had been 
slowed by lack of money, despite a $19.5 billion fund financed by a 
fee on each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by reactors.

He said the administration would ask Congress on Wednesday for easier 
access to the money. But he also acknowledged that the schedule had 
been hurt by problems in his office and with its contractors; 60 
percent of the work his office is doing this year involves 
reanalyzing data that was rejected earlier because of signs of fraud. 

The administration will also request that the site be permitted to 
store more than the 70,000 metric tons originally set by Congress. 
That limit was set with the idea that the Energy Department would 
look for a second site, but it has made small progress toward opening 
the first one.

Mr. Sproat spoke at a breakfast sponsored by The Energy Daily, a 
trade publication, and Areva, a reactor vendor.

The nuclear waste issue has become more acute because for the first 
time since the 1970s, companies want to build new reactors, according 
to Mr. Sproat and others. But Mr. Sproat said investors would not 
lend money for construction unless the Energy Department resumed 
offering contracts to the utilities for waste disposal.

Reid vows to block nuclear waste bill

WASHINGTON - The Energy Department unveiled legislation Tuesday to 
spur construction of a national nuclear waste dump in Nevada and 
increase its capacity. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, 
voting record), D-Nev., immediately vowed to block the bill. 
That could spell more problems for the troubled Yucca Mountain 
nuclear waste dump, already years behind schedule. The Energy 
Department official who heads the project warned that without new 
funding that's part of the bill, a 2017 goal for opening the dump 90 
miles northwest of Las Vegas could not be met.

"If we don't have that we are certainly not going to be able to 
maintain the 2017 date," said Edward F. "Ward" Sproat, director of 
the Energy Department's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste 

Sproat also said that if the Yucca Mountain's capacity isn't 
increased from the current limit of 77,000 tons, as the bill 
proposes, he would have to recommend to Congress next year that a 
second nuclear waste dump be built.

That would be a hard sell, as few states would want to host a nuclear 
waste dump. Sproat indicated that the prospect of a second nuclear 
waste dump could help convince Congress of the need to move forward 
with Yucca Mountain and approve the department's legislation.

"It's part of what I would call the congressional education process," 
Sproat told reporters at a briefing organized by The Energy Daily.

The new bill is similar to legislation the Energy Department offered 
last year that didn't advance. The political environment is even 
tougher for the measure this year now that Reid, an ardent Yucca 
Mountain opponent, is in charge of the Senate.

"This is just the department's latest attempt to breathe life into 
this dying beast and it will fail," Reid said. "I will continue to 
leverage my leadership position to prevent the dump from ever being 

The bill doesn't specify how much more than 77,000 tons of nuclear 
waste should be allowed in Yucca Mountain, though federal 
environmental impact studies have estimated the dump could safely 
hold at least 132,000 tons.

There's already more than 50,000 tons of nuclear waste piling up at 
nuclear power plants in 31 states with nowhere to go, something 
that's threatening taxpayers with mounting liability costs since the 
federal government was contractually obligated to begin storing 
nuclear utilities' waste starting in 1998.

Reid's solution is to leave the nuclear waste at the sites where it 
already is, put it in dry cask storage units and allow the Energy 
Department to take ownership of it onsite to eliminate the problem of 
liability to utilities. He and Sen. John Ensign (news, bio, voting 
record), R-Nev., introduced their own legislation Tuesday to make 
those changes.

In recent years Reid has also succeeded in cutting        President 
Bush's budget request for Yucca. The project's 2007 budget, at $405 
million, is nearly $150 million less than the administration wanted, 
which Sproat said is forcing project managers to put various 
initiatives on hold, including work on a rail line to transport the 

The Energy Department's bill would ensure that annual revenues in a 
special nuclear waste fund paid for by utilities would be dedicated 
to Yucca Mountain outside the overall federal budgeting process, so 
that Yucca wouldn't have to compete with other programs for funding. 
This would guarantee Yucca Mountain dedicated funding of at least 
$750 million per year.

US pushes ahead on mountain nuclear dump

Washington looks set for a political battle after the US Department 
of Energy presented plans to fast track a high-grade nuclear waste 
dump in the mountains of Nevada, stressing the need for an urgent 

The rugged mountains of Nevada are being presented as the best site 
for America's nuclear waste

Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, has asked congressmen to vote the 
proposals through adding that there is no other plan on the table and 
that there is a pressing need for the US to improve its ability to 
manage and dispose of spent fuel from nuclear facilities and high-
level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons. 

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would do 
everything in his power to block the bill when it reaches the upper 

"This legislative proposal reflects the Administration's strong 
commitment to advancing the development of the Yucca Mountain 
repository, while seeking to provide stability, clarity and 
predictability in moving the project forward," Secretary Bodman said.

The Yucca Mountain repository is critical to the nation's current and 
future energy and national security needs, and I look forward to 
working with the Congress on developing a bill that can be passed by 
Congress and signed by the President." 

The proposed legislation would pave the way for a repository for the 
waste deep underground 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas and would also 
place permanent restrictions on land use in the surrounding area, 
effectively sealing off public access to the mountain forever. 

But Washington faces the same problems as other national governments 
keen to find suitable sites for burying nuclear waste - nobody wants 
to play host to a facility which will blight the region for 

The case is made harder to sell as the proposed legislation scraps 
the 70,000 tonne cap previously put forward for the site, 'in order 
to allow maximum use of the mountain's true technical capacity'. 

Those in favour of the dump argue that this would mean a single site 
could cope with the entire nation's nuclear waste for the foreseeable 

"We have a legal and moral obligation to get Yucca Mountain opened 
and operating," said Ward Sproat, director of the Office of Civilian 
Radioactive Waste Management. 

"Currently 55,000 metric tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel and 
defense high-level waste is being stored at more than 100 above-
ground sites in 39 states, and that number grows by about 2,000 
metric tons annually. 

"By entombing it deep in Yucca Mountain - a safe and secure permanent 
geologic repository - we can ensure public safety for thousands of 

Yucca Mountain was approved by the Congress and the President as the 
site for the nation's first permanent spent nuclear fuel and high-
level radioactive waste geologic repository in 2002 but the project 
has been plagued by delays and is already several years behind 

The chosen site is close to the Nevada Nuclear Testing Facility, open 
in the early 1950s and used as recently as 1992. 

It has the dubious claim to fame of having hosted the highest number 
of nuclear weapon detonations in the USA

Accused caught at nuclear site

AT least two of the nine men accused of plotting a terrorist attack 
in Sydney were caught at the Lucas Heights nuclear plant, a court 
heard yesterday.

In a document tendered to Penrith Local Court, police said Mazen 
Touma was questioned by an officer from the Counter Terrorist Command 
after he was seen riding a motorcycle at Lucas Heights on December 
28, 2004. 

Touma was allegedly there with co-accused Abdul Rakib Hasan and 
another man named Mohammed. 

Counter Terrorism Command Detective Sergeant Garry Low questioned 
Touma on December 29 that year at his Bankstown home and was 
allegedly told by Touma that Mohammed wanted to buy the 125cc trail 
bike for his 12-year-old son and had asked to test-drive it. 

"I met them at Wangee Rd mosque at 4.30pm where we prayed and then 
they dropped their cars at my place and we went in my van to Lucas 
Heights," Touma allegedly told police. 

"When we got there we had problems so we didn't ride it for long, 
only a couple of hours. 

"As we were leaving the police drove past and I saw them start to 
follow us before they pulled us over and searched my van." 

Although Crown prosecutor Wendy Abraham QC did not specifically name 
the target for the alleged terrorist act in court, Lucas Heights has 
been listed as a possible target. 

During day three of the committal hearing for Touma, Hasan and their 
co-accused Bradley Umar Sariff Baladjam, Khaled and Moustafa Cheikho, 
Mohamed Ali Elomar, Mohammed Omar Jamal, Mirsad Mulahalilovic and 
Khaled Sharrouf, police told of their surveillance of the group, 
which involved listening devices, telephone intercepts and physical 
surveillance from July 8, 2004, until their arrests on November 8, 

Barnwell site draws support

Barnwell County´s love affair with a nuclear waste dump spilled into 
the Legislature during a hearing Tuesday on the future of a landfill 
that contributes to the county´s economy.

Wearing "I support Barnwell" stickers and saying they need the more 
than $1 million the landfill produces each year for the community, 
county residents urged a panel of lawmakers not to close the dump to 
the nation next year as scheduled.

But opponents of the 36-year-old landfill said a vote to keep the 
site open should not be based on Barnwell County´s economic desires.

The low-level waste landfill has leaked, and other parts of South 
Carolina are vulnerable to contamination that could wash down the 
Savannah River, critics said. Communities in Beaufort County draw 
drinking water from the river or plan to in the near future, and the 
landfill needs to be closed, critics said.

Barnwell County is "addicted" to the modest revenues generated by the 
landfill, and "we are paying the price," said former state Rep. 
Harriet Keyserling, who drove from Beaufort County to speak at 
Tuesday´s public hearing.

"We ... are concerned about the Savannah River."

Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, said the state Legislature agreed 
in 2000 to close the landfill to the nation and that the Legislature 
shouldn´t pass a bill nullifying that law. This year´s bill, backed 
by landfill operator Chem-Nuclear, would allow the dump to remain 
open to the nation through 2023. It is the only commercial low-level 
site in the U.S. to take the most potent types of atomic refuse from 
any state. Current law restricts use of the landfill to South 
Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey after next year.

"We made a deal; let´s keep our end of the bargain," Herbkersman 

Columbia environmental lawyer Bob Guild, a Sierra Club official, told 
the committee the landfill has leaked on two different occasions: 
once in the mid-1970s and another time in the late 1990s, when a 
spill of radioactive waste flowed onto a nearby church´s land. 
Landfill operators say the spills have had little environmental 

Tuesday´s hearing attracted more than 200 people and featured about 
20 speakers. All told, more than 120 Barnwell landfill supporters 
showed up for the four-hour hearing.

The session was so crowded legislators adjourned to a bigger room to 
accommodate the crowd, which had spilled into the hallway of a 
cramped meeting room.

A subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and 
Environmental Affairs Committee, which held the hearing, is expected 
to vote in about two weeks whether to send the bill to the full 

Landfill supporters praised Chem-Nuclear´s safety record and 
operation of the landfill, calling the company a good neighbor and a 
vital economic partner. The landfill contributes $1 million to $2 
million annually to the county.

"The economic future of Barnwell County and its 24,000 citizens who 
live there is in your hands," said Barnwell County Council chairman 
Keith Sloan, calling opponents of the measure "extreme" 

Sally Rogers, a lobbyist representing Chem-Nuclear, said the landfill 
will operate at a $3.6 million deficit if it closes to the nation 
next year as scheduled. She and a utility company representative said 
that with only South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey using the 
site, it could cause utility rates to rise to offset the losses.

UK Faces Energy Gap, Needs Quick Nuclear Decision

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The U.K. government needs to make a quick 
decision over a new generation of nuclear power plants or face a 
growing power generation gap and severe security of supply issues, 
according to a report from the U.K. Major Energy Users Council, or 
MEUC, released Wednesday.

"If nuclear capacity cannot be built here perhaps we should build 
another plant in another European country with a trade link to access 
capacity," the report said.

The MEUC, which represents major industrial, commercial, retail and 
public sector users of energy in the U.K., said the new generation of 
nuclear plants should be privately funded and backed up with long-
term contracts with large power consumers.

In July 2006, the U.K. government published its energy review, 
following a 12- week consultation, which confirmed its support for 
nuclear power.

Environmental group Greenpeace last month won a legal challenge 
against this decision, which the judge said had been reached without 
the "fullest public consultation". Their victory could delay the 
construction of any potential new nuclear reactors in the country.

MEUC also said U.K. gas prices weren't responding adequately to 
fundamentals of supply and demand due to a lack of liquidity and 
price transparency and called for further unbundling of utilities 
that have both supply and production businesses. The level of gas 
storage in the U.K. is also a concern, it added.

The European carbon dioxide emissions trading system is an effective 
mechanism, the group said: "but Europe must hold back from higher 
taxes or tighter emissions standards until China and the U.S. follow 
suit by cutting their emissions."

Australians will accept nuclear power: Switkowski

The head of the Prime Minister's nuclear task force, Dr Ziggy 
Switkowski, has predicted that Australians will accept uranium 
enrichment and nuclear power generation as part of action to curb 
greenhouse emissions.

He has told a Sydney business lunch that he believes the Labor Party 
will take the first step by lifting policy bans on expanding uranium 
mining and exports.

"When the ALP have their national convention in April this year, the 
leadership have foreshadowed for some time that they will be 
revisiting the ALP objections to this with a view to reversing their 
position on this," he said. 

"It may well be that this is the first aspect of the nuclear fuel 
cycle which sees bipartisan support for lifting restrictions on 
uranium mining in Australia."

Czechs, Slovaks urge EU to debate nuclear energy

BRUSSELS - The Czech Republic and Slovakia will use the European 
Union´s summit this week to try to revive a debate on the merits of 
nuclear energy, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The two EU newcomers believe countries that shun atom energy should 
reconsider their stance, as investing in nuclear power plants would 
help the bloc to achieve its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions 
to fight global warming.

`The atmosphere around nuclear energy is changing. It´s the right 
time to start a debate on its merits,´ said Jan Kohout, the Czech 
ambassador to the EU.

A Slovak diplomat said: `We should start to discuss nuclear energy 
more openly. It is time to get rid of this taboo.´

The diplomat, who asked not to be named, said the EU should set up a 
`Nuclear Energy Forum´, or a small body facilitating the exchange of 
information and joint actions. He suggested the Slovak capital of 
Bratislava host the organisation.

France, which produces the majority of its electricity from nuclear 
power plants, tacitly supports giving atomic power more prominence in 
the bloc´s long-term energy plans, another EU diplomat said.

Many EU members, led by Austria, oppose nuclear power as dangerous, 
expensive and leaving harmful waste, with memories still fresh of a 
nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986.

The executive European Commission did not take sides on the issue in 
its proposal for the EU´s long-term energy programme due to be 
discussed at the summit on Thursday and Friday.

But analysts say nuclear energy is making a slow comeback in Europe 
as a result of high oil prices, safer technologies, fears of 
dependence on Russian oil and gas, and because it produces no 
`greenhouse gases´ blamed for climate change.

Finland has become the first of the `old´ EU members in a decade to 
decide on building a nuclear power plant and German Chancellor Angela 
Merkel has called for extending the life of the country´s nuclear 
plants despite a deal to phase them out.

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland have recently launched talks on 
building a large nuclear facility by 2015, partly to become less 
dependent on Russian energy.

Both Czech and Slovak diplomats said their countries would oppose 
setting a binding target for the EU to produce 20 percent of its 
energy from renewable sources.

They said that unlike many EU member states their countries have 
little sun for solar energy, limited prospects for hydro-power and no 
sea coast, so winds tend to be weak.  

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at cox.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

More information about the RadSafe mailing list