Guest Post: U.S. To Bury Its 70,000 Tonnes Of Nuclear Waste

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Joao Peixe of,

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has released a recent study which has determined that if and when the US ever decides to actually pursue the technology to recycle nuclear waste, it will take 20 years to develop. Based on this knowledge they have suggested that the current stockpile of spent nuclear fuel should be buried without any thought as to its retrieval in the future.

Officials from Oak Ridge involved in the report said that,

“based on the technical assessment, about 68,450 metric tons or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes.”

The remaining two percent will be used for research into recycling and storage technologies.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, co-chaired by Steven Chu, also believes that the means to recycle nuclear waste is too far off for any consideration at the moment.

No currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments—including advances in reprocessing and recycling technologies—have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenges the nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer.”

Although they did add that it was

premature for the United States to commit, as a matter of policy, to ‘closing’ the nuclear fuel cycle given the large uncertainties that exist about the merits and commercial viability of different fuel cycle and technology options.”

Recycling is often thought of as a perfect means of dealing with nuclear waste, producing more energy and making a more efficient use of the fuel, yet anti-nuclear activists are readily against reprocessing technology.

Mali Martha Lightfoot, the executive director of the Helen Caldicott Foundation, says that,

recycling is a euphemism for reprocessing which is one of the worst polluters of the atmosphere and the ocean, and is a direct conduit to proliferation. It is not really a solution to anything except how can the industry get more of our money. It also ups the ante for reactor accident danger, as in the case of Fukushima, because MOX fuel has plutonium in it.”

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AlaricBalth's picture

Bury it near Wall Street. There are plenty of mutants running around there already.

BLOTTO's picture

'They' will bury it in the same place they did for the WTC pieces/parts, Bin Laden's body, etc...


Gauranteed no one will find it. Unless your James Cameron perhaps?

Fukushima Sam's picture

I'm sure our descendants in a million years will have fun with it.

Toolshed's picture

Or perhaps the intellectually and ethically superior cockroaches that conquer us.



Manthong's picture

Might help with the immigrant problem..

The site will need plutonium bearers and landscape workers..

Stackers's picture

So Yucca Mountain is back on again ? ....... until its back off ..... again ?

SamAdams's picture

They claim to have closed the loop, meaning 100% consumption leaving little to no radioactive matter.  Supposedly, this was "hushed" for security reasons.  As I understand, France and others have offered to purchase spent nuclear fuel, but were denied? 

China is currently pursuing Thorium, which is not used in the States for reasons of National Security.

Story illustration remark:
Bartman - "Eat my shorts!"
Bernanke - "Gladly"

Diamond Jim's picture

Sam has the correct approach...i realize we made the choice for Th power back in the 50s because we needed U for bombs. But in reviewing websites for Th power it is always suggested that one can build Th plants and actually "burn" U wastes etc in them. Why should we then bury this toxic trans uranic material when we could burn it.

Mr Chu is an idiot, he apparently has little grasp on how best to (1) produce energy and (2) get rid of the waste from nukes.......... Our future should be based on nat gas and Th power. All American resources, construction jobs and engineering.

trav777's picture

no; actually it is YOU that are the idiot.

ANY fast-spectrum gen 4 reactor can consume actinides and transuranics; the engineering problems with this fuel cycle are nontrivial.  LFR is supposed to be online in 2015.  SCWR are under development.  Other Gen 4 technologies do not exist yet.

The problem is processing the spent fuel, jack@ss.  You can't just dump this stuff in and close the lid like this is a Mr. Fusion.

Diamond Jim's picture

Trav777...I direct you to the for Thorium Power 101. There is a section in there that discusses fissioning of transuranics from normal U reactors. These LFTR reactors fission these wastes down to 1% residue and produce plutonium 238 (and Mo 90, used in medicine apps), which they can sell to NASA to produce long life energy sources for their deep space probes. Finally, please take your obnoxious finger and shove it.

SilverRhino's picture

Only the US government would be stupid enough to bury long term nuclear waste in some of the youngest rock on the North American continent.   

Glass that crap up and drop it into the Aleutians Trench 26,000 feet under the water.   5 miles of water shielding and the subduction zone carries that crap back into the mantle where it can safely decay.   


TerminalDebt's picture

Bury it in Kim K, Everyone else has buried their things there before

Albertarocks's picture

And you can bet some of those moisture seeking missiles were glowing in the dark too.

SafelyGraze's picture

"If the Department were to fill old barrels with material, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the material up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the material-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is."

-JMK, The Marginal Propensity to Consume and Bury

smlbizman's picture

yep , put your cigarettes out fuckers, lets go green, lets recyle , lets all fart strawberries or you will be fined and or imprisoned.....


SirIssacNewton's picture

Our descendents even a 1,000 years from now will be genetic misfires and mutants.  Fukushima and all the crap we have already produced has and will continue to "shine" its disasterous spew upon us for the next 100,000 years.  But on the bright side, our mutant descendents will be devolving back into a nucleopeptide pool.  May the years to come bring us the "glow" we deserve... :-)

mholzman's picture

No one died at Fukusima. More died from the loss of electric. Millions are poisoned with mercury in gold mines throughout South America. You care? No. You do not care because the big greenie environmental movement aimed at nuclear is funded by the oil industry. Where there's no money with advertising in your face, you don't give a F**K!

akak's picture

Yes, obviously, because one can only care about either mercury environmental poisoning, or radioactive environmental poisoning, but not both simultaneously.

BigJim's picture

  ...No one died at Fukusima. More died from the loss of electric. Millions are poisoned with mercury in gold mines throughout South America. You care? No. You do not care because the big greenie environmental movement aimed at nuclear is funded by the oil industry. Where there's no money with advertising in your face, you don't give a F**K!

From mholzman's published ZH biography:....

Primary interest, besides staying alive, is computer science and art. Work currently in a small group of consultants mostly focused on energy.
I mean no offense to anyone. I have discovered in life that believing you are right and discovering you are wrong, and more importantly accepting that, is the path to growth, blah, blah, blah.

Hey energy consultant guy, are you aware that exposure to ionising radiation increases risk of developing cancer(s)? And these can take years or decades to develop?

How long ago was 'Fukusima' again? Is 'Fukusima' still pouring out a variety of exciting isotopes, gently wafted us-wards by wind and wave? Will 'Fukusima' continue to enrich our lives in this way for some time to come? Is the problem contained? Is it possible it won't be contained for a long time? That it might even get worse?

And exactly which energy industry sector is your small group of consultants mostly 'focused on'? Not the nuclear energy industry, by any chance?

Enquiring minds want to know.

back2basics's picture

it will be a 'natural resource' by then

I need more cowbell's picture

Descendants? in a million years? I doubt we'll have descendants in 100 years.

Mad Mohel's picture

LOL Dedcendents in a million years? I am sure they will have a picture of you on the mantle above the fireplace. You obviously don't understand how science works. LOL, million years, descendents.

bigdumbnugly's picture

well at least they realize they better not bury any more in james carville's backyard.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Bury it in D.C.  The District of Criminals.

krispkritter's picture

Can we reserve half for the Hamptons?

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Shit, I have a nuclear power plant right two miles from my house.  Don't you all want toilets for night lights?

Headbanger's picture

I bet they cure hemorrhoids too!

Agstacker's picture

Right next to the Red Cross 9/11 relief fund.

TBT or not TBT's picture

This is Steven Chu you are talking about, anti-human statist control freak.   That "Waste" contains lots of really useful stuff.   The recylcing technology already exists, as does entirely adequate disposal technology.    The "need for more studies" crap is just that, crap.   Chu is about as principled a scientist as Krugman is an economist.

krispkritter's picture

I thought there were companies pursuing 'fast nuclear reactors' that would reuse current spent fuel waste? And that it was already proven to work but hadn't received any regulatory approvals.

As for Chu, apparently he's not against nuclear power, just so long as they are smaller and not in his back yard or the Hamptons:

TBT or not TBT's picture

Breeder reactors were diabolised on national TV by Jimmuh Carter(former nucular engineer in the Navy).    Same deal with the neutron bomb, which still strikes me from time to time as a great thing to use as a deterrent, if not for real, in apocalyptic enough scenarios.    A big problem with a nuclear exchange is the fallout...reaction products mixed with plasma made of ground materials and simply burning hot/smoke of ground materials sucked up into the cloud.

One World Mafia's picture

Where any mutation will be an improvement.

blu's picture

"Bury it near Wall Street. There are plenty of mutants running around there already."

Dammit, now I'm seeing a giant radioactive Lloyd Blankfiend with laser breath terrorizing Manhattan, crushing little models of buildings and splashing around in the Hudson River.

BigJim's picture

How's that different from how he is now?

ghengis86's picture

What about the Mariana trench?

Sudden Debt's picture

DUDE! That's where they burried Megatron!
You don't want him to be able to recharge... really...

Dr. No's picture

Actually, I think he was dropped in the Laurentian Abyss... meaning the Mariana Trench is a go.

TBT or not TBT's picture

There are some nuclear reactors and bombs on the sea floor already, and a gigantic amount of natural radiation, and radioisoptopes released from...wait for it...BURNING COAL.    Yeah, burning coal for electricity irradiates the planet worse than using modern nuclear reactors to get electricity.  

Personally, if AGW via burning coal is possible, I am all for it.   The impending ICE AGE will not be good for biodiversity or humans.   Those suck for life on this planet.   But let's filter the stack exhaust on those a lot better than we currently do.

thedrickster's picture

I thought the same but instead of dumping it there, injecting casks of waste into the earth's mantle.

Is the Earth's mantle naturally radioactive? Would the volume of waste relative to that of the Earth, have any measurable impact on the radioactivity of magma released into the crust?

Dr. No's picture

Radioactive decay is most likley responsible for up to 90% of the heat in the Earth's mantle.

farmerjohn2112's picture

The Earth's crust is, on average, 35km thick... the deepest borehole ever drilled is about 13km deep. The temperature, at that depth (about 300F) make drilling equipment quite fragile - extrapolating the temperature downwards, you're looking at about 800F at a depth of 20km. I'm not opposed to the idea of mantle injection - just not sure how you're gonna get there.

Headbanger's picture

A massive asteroid impact should do the trick

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture



Asteroid 2012 DA14, possible hit on Feb. 15th, probably ainT big enough. 

Only 2.5 megatons of kinetic energy.

thedrickster's picture

Hmmm. Is it uniformly thick?

If the bottom or the Marinara's Trench is 11km, would there really be 24km to go? How does magma seep from the ocean floor, could the volcanic vents be used as a pathway?

What about a subduction zone? ***EDIT**** TBT I see you proposed this below. Seems like a way around thick crust.

TBT or not TBT's picture

It has been working for billions of years.   If it stops working, well that will be hundreds of millions of years from now, by which time, problem solved.    It'd be a whole simpler to just recycle the good stuff for reuse, convert the rest back to rocks(basically, as glass), and bury it in ANY long stable rock formation.   There are billion year old formations all over the place that aren't going anywhere fast.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Subduction zones.   Let the planet do it for you and you'll get it a whole lot deeper than 35km.

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

That would work unless it doesnT.


Just hope your trash doesnT come belching back up through one of the volcanoes which tend to line themselves up along a subduction zone.


Oh, ... and make sure your container is not buoyant in lava.