Monday, May 3, 2010

Follow-up Questions for 2010 Congressional Candidates on Energy Policy

Every election cycle the various industry groups come out to campaign for their business that they feel is strongly affected by National Public Policy - as they should. (You don't see Microsoft out there, they took their Anti-trust spanking and went on their way)

The Energy industry is always at the forefront.  New technologies want a level playing field.  Traditional energy industries want to maintain their market share and subsidies (although they never call them subsidies or entitlements)

The traditional energy market gains Republican Support and the New Technologies gather Democratic support.  I can't help but wonder, if we took the Political Parties out of the equation, people would mix themselves between the industries to support.

The Nuclear industry has much to campaign about.  They have a history of Nuclear mishaps that will never wash away.  The nuclear industry has not had a subsidized new plant in decades.  The private market for capital would never undertake such a risky venture, just getting past the regulatory hurdles is far to challenging.
Never-the-less, the Nuclear industry does fair well in the Republican political circles, as a traditional business they get the natural instinctive "don't mess with my business support."  But that's as far as it goes.  Candidates will speak to support for the Business and a viable source for future energy  Let's face it there are no nuclear power plant engineers running as candidates for congress.

Well next time the Candidate vetting delves into energy, and the back-of-the-room armchair nuclear advocate chimes in with the 'ideal solution' to solve the worlds energy shortage problems, here is a wealth of information to follow-up with.  {Be sure to ask after the candidates vie their support for this worthy business industry to support with tax dollars and favorable (No EPA) policies.}

nuclear waste
Radioactive Waste
Has anyone figured out where to put this stuff for several hundred thousand years? Radioactive waste can be solid, liquid, or gaseous waste that contains radionuclides. Listed below are different definitions of radioactive wastes:
  • Depleted Uranium (DU) is, according to the to the Military Toxins Project, the radioactive byproduct of the uranium enrichment process, is "roughly 60% as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years." The United States has in excess of 1.1 billion pounds of DU waste material. Using uranium as a fuel in the types of nuclear reactors common in the United States requires that the uranium be enriched so that the percentage of U235 is increased, typically to 3 to 5%. To enrich uranium, a process called gaseous diffusion was developed by the United States in the 1940s. The gaseous diffusion process creates two products: enriched uranium hexafluoride, and depleted uranium hexafluoride (depleted UF6). The DU decay chain includes hazardous radioactive thorium, radium, radon, the radon "daughters" and lead. The Department of Energy plans to recycle massive quantities of 1,250,000,000 pounds of DU  into the commercial marketplace for reuse in consumer goods. Read
  • An International Appeal to Ban the Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons drafted by Ramsey Clark.
  • High-level waste (HLW) is highly radioactive material from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. HLW includes spent nuclear fuel, liquid waste, and solid waste derived from the liquid. HLW contains elements that decay slowly and remain radioactive for hundreds or thousands of years. HLW must be handled by remote-control from behind protective shielding to protect workers.
  • Legacy Waste at Los Alamos.
Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLW) is any radioactive waste not classified as high-level waste, transuranic waste, or uranium mill tailings. LLW often contains small amounts of radioactivity dispersed in large amounts of material. It is generated by uranium enrichment processes, reactor operations, isotope production, medical procedures, and research and development activities. LLW is usually made up of rags, papers, filters, tools, equipment, discarded protective clothing, dirt, and construction rubble contaminated with radionuclides. Read
  • Status and Issues of Low-Level Radioactive (LLRW) Mangement by the Task Force's Dr. Judith Johnsrud. Also,
  • Mission Waste at Los Alamos.
  • Mixed Waste is defined as radioactive waste contaminated with hazardous waste regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). A large portion of DOE's mixed waste is mixed low-level waste found in soils. No mixed waste can be disposed of without complying with RCRA's requirements for hazardous waste and meeting RCRA's Land Disposal Restrictions, which require waste to be treated before disposal in appropriate landfills. Meeting regulatory requirements and resolving mixed waste questions related to different regulations is one of DOE's most significant waste management challenges.
Sludge, Our Newest Rad Waste:
  • Sewage sludge is what is left over after raw sewage has been treated at the wastewater treatment plants. Water and many of the contaminants are  removed from the raw sewage; Bacteria are then left to do the job of reducing human waste, leaving a concentrated semi-solid sludge cake. In the past, wastewater treatment plants paid to for disposal of sludge in landfills or through incineration.  Over one third of the 5.3 million metric tons of sewage sludge produced each year in the US is now dumped on farmland and forestland. Sludge isn't just "fertilizer." Heavy metals, parasites (and other pathogens), chemicals such as chlorine can all be contained in sewage sludge. But the 503 regs don't include testing or treatment for radioactivity in sludge, which can originate from industry, the medical profession and labs.
  • Read a little Toxic Sludge is Good for You.
  • Spent Nuclear Fuel Nuclear reactors burn uranium fuel creating a chain reaction that produces energy. Over time, as the uranium fuel is burned, it reaches the point where it no longer contributes efficiently to the chain reaction. Once the fuel reaches that point it is considered spent. Spent nuclear fuel is thermally hot and highly radioactive.
  • Transuranic (TRU) Waste contains human-made elements heavier than uranium that emit alpha radiation. TRU waste is produced during reactor fuel assembly, weapons fabrication, and chemical processing operations. It decays slowly and requires long-term isolation. TRU waste can include protective clothing, equipment, and tools.
  • Uranium Mill Tailings are by-products of uranium mining and milling operations.

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