29 April 2008

Solution to Nuclear Waste: Just Dump It on Al Gore's Lawn

An environmentalist friend of mine from the Seattle area once questioned me on a possible solution to CO2 emissions in the energy sector in response to global warming. I strongly suggested nuclear power since it emits no CO2 and has been used safely for decades. However, the problems with nuke power is that it requires an enormous amount of investment capital to construct a power plant, training personnel for safe operation is costly, public hysteria to splitting atoms resulting in never ending protests, and where in the world to dispose of nuclear waste. She sent me this Scientific American article which discusses the problems with reprocessing spent fuel.

In lamens terms, the fuel used in most reactors is a combination of the U-235 and U-238 isotopes of Uranium (which can be mined). When the fuel is exposed to neutrons bouncing around to heat up the reactor, some of the U-238 become Plutonium-239. This stuff does not occur naturally in mother nature, since it's quite unstable, and is also used in nuclear warheads. The author of the Scientific American article argues that since it is so expensive to recycle the plutonium and terrorists could get their mitts on it, fuel reprocessing is a bad idea. Ultimately, the question becomes how do we dispose of spent fuel from nuclear reactors in a cost-effective and safe fashion.

While most environmentalists are kind folks who live modest lives and enjoy hiking on the weekends, there is a dangerous trend towards celebrity environmentalism amongst modern American society. These douchebags fly around in gulfstreams, live in huge mansions that no doubt destroyed huge swaths of the landscape to construct, and might show up in a Prius at some awards ceremony to show how "compassionate" they are about the cause that is in-style that week. Al Gore is one of these hypocritical assbags, who lives in a mansion in Nashville, but tells all the rest of us commoners that we need to reduce our carbon footprint. In an apparent PR stunt, Gore installed a bunch of "green" fixtures in his mansion, but the fact that the guy consumes way more resources than the average Joe is still apparent.

So the problem with nuclear waste is that we don't have a place to dump it, and it might get in the hands of terrorists. I say put it on Al Gores's lawn since 1) It will show how committed he is to reducing CO2 emissions and inflate his already massive ego, and 2) He'll be able to scare off any potential terrorist by boring them to death with his recap as Vice President or how the 2000 election was rigged against him. This might have the fun-filled consequence of bombarding Al Gore with gamma rays, thereby turning him into some sort of Gore-Zilla. Just thinking outside the box here.

8 comments:

Dale B said...

"The author of the Scientific American article argues that since it is so expensive to recycle the plutonium and terrorists could get their mitts on it, fuel reprocessing is a bad idea."

The French (La Hague facility), British (Sellafield facility), Japanese (Rokkasho facility) and Russians (Mayak Facility) probably would disagree with the SA author. We do need a facility and Al's back yard is as good a place as any. The neighborhood association might object to using the front yard and we don't want to offend their tender sensibilities.

The arguments against reprocessing spent fuel are just another way to try to kill nuclear power. The same sort of people are also succeding in preventing the construction of new coal plants and converting existing coal plants to natural gas. This foolishness will continue, at most, until the lights start going out. This won't happen tomorrow but it will happen sooner or later unless something changes.

LT Nixon said...

Thanks, Dale. Sounds like you know a thing or two about the industry I'll probably end up in down the road (energy). I might not have the most knowledge, but I can still call bullshit on Al Gore.

subrookie said...

The current plan is to store it all at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Although Al Gore's yard is just as good as any. He'll end up saving gas emissions from the lawn mower as his yard browns up.

The argument against nuclear power by the global warming fans (not because it contributes) has always been kind of ridiculous since nuke power provides large amounts of air pollution free power.

You may get a kick out of the "Office of Civilian Nuclear Waste Management" (you can't make a name like that up, and would get you less girls than clubbing seals if you worked for them) handout about how to warn future generations about the buried waste at Yucca.
http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0115.shtml
Put one of those in Al's yard too.

Sandstorm done over there?

membrain said...

In Ontario where I live we get 51% of our electricity from Nuclear Power. And are planning to build more. But it's about a 20 year cycle from planning to actually turning ont the juice and is mega billions in bucks.

I agree with Dale B: "The arguments against reprocessing spent fuel are just another way to try to kill nuclear power."

madtom said...

I strongly suggested nuclear power since it emits no CO2 and has been used safely for decades.

That's not true, the mining and production of fuel releases tons of CO2, and the waste is a bitch for like, ever. And then there are the accidents, not to mention the proliferation problems.

Heat mining is much safe, if it works, and it might even be cheaper.

Bag Blog said...

Careful, Lt Nixon, you are going to run off all your liberal followers. I think windmill power is the way to go - plenty of hot air around. And the Oklahoma winds have been hellish this year - might as well saddle 'em up.

subrookie said...

Wind power may be the way to go, but here in Washington there's a pretty successful lobby of green groups that oppose it. One of the gustiest places in the US the Columbia River Gorge has had significant opposition to puting in a wind farm because it "looks bad". And I'll still be a supporter of nuke power any energy source will have some CO2 emmitted either mining or using it. Even geothermal takes energy to produce the infrastructure and equipment to install it. I guess we could use Mt. St. Helens to power Portland though.

Anonymous said...

1. WPPSS bond default. Ouch.
2. Hanford (where your tea kettle will no doubt end up), Rocky Flats Arsenal, Oak Ridge National Labs TN (e.g., Al Gore's yard), Idaho National Labs cleanup and containment costs.
3. Yankee shutdown final costs.
4. Three Mile Island
5. Chernobyl