Rick Perry: San Onofre conditions could lead to a disaster comparable to 2011's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan.
  • Rick Perry: San Onofre conditions could lead to a disaster comparable to 2011's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan.
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Onetime presidential contender Rick Perry, who famously called for the elimination of the federal Department of Energy before being tapped to lead it, warned on Tuesday (June 20) that conditions at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could lead to a disaster comparable to 2011's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Citing long-held concerns about the indefinite storage of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel just 107 feet from the coastline and near several earthquake fault lines, Perry used San Onofre conditions to rally for renewed funding for a long-term nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

"Having those spent fuel rods in those cooling ponds in a region of the world that's inside that 'Ring of Fire,' as they call it — and the potential to have a geologic event — we could have a repeat of what happened at Fukushima to some degree," Perry told House Committee on Appropriations members during testimony defending a White House request for $120 million to restart the licensing process at Yucca Mountain, which was abandoned in 2010.

Locally, activists have been critical of the pools for years. Environmental groups prefer a solution known as "dry cask storage," though this solution is still only feasible for 20 to 40 years. The waste, however, could potentially be toxic for up to 250,000 years.

Despite the ongoing potential for calamity in San Diego and at dozens of other nuclear waste storage sites across the country, any action on a permanent solution is expected to be slow and contested. Both of Nevada's senators have vowed to fight the revival of the Yucca Mountain plan, and even if it does go through construction costs could top $100 billion, which would have to be funded by Congress.

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Comments

Visduh June 22, 2017 @ 5:46 p.m.

Odd, isn't it, that "environmentalists" were the opponents of Yucca Mountain. But that spent fuel and other waste will remain hazardous in perpetuity. If we are to store that nasty stuff in Yucca Mountain, it needs to be kept off-limits for at least 100,000 years. That's a long time folks, and keep in mind that our human written history goes back only about 8,000 years. Will humanity, hundreds of generations from now, manage to keep the history of that spot? There are other things that can be done with that spent fuel at least, such as reprocessing. But the US doesn't allow that.

Some time ago, the late Glenn Seaborg, one of the earliest physicists to work on and with radioactive elements (he actually redrew part of the Periodic Table of Elements) was all in favor of nuclear fission power and regarded waste storage is essentially a political matter. A very smart guy, he didn't worry at all about storing the waste, but I can guarantee any reader that he would have never proposed storing it 100 from the mean high tide line on a seacoast.

The figure of $100 billion to finish Yucca Mountain and start accepting shipments sounds over-the-top. But keeping in mind that anything the federal government does is always costly, it might not be too high. One part of the Yucca Mountain plan is to run a new rail line into the facility, one that doesn't use existing tracks, and bypasses most civilization.

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dwbat June 22, 2017 @ 7:36 p.m.

It's quite likely that we won't be on earth 100,000 years from now, so we shouldn't worry about that. Stephen Hawking has warned our Earth is doomed for a number of reasons, and he's talking like a maximum of 10,000 years. And possibly sooner. Making our planet (esp. Nevada) a depository for spent nuclear fuel seems OK. We'll all be moving on. We will colonize space, just like we faced danger and hardship and found the promise of California.

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CaptD June 22, 2017 @ 6:05 p.m.

A previous Chairman of the NRC (who is a World Class geologist and part of the Blue Ribbon team that looked atYucca Mountain) agreed that Yucca Mountain was unsuitable as a long term solution to US nuclear waste storage! What we have now is Rick Perry who also denies climate science deciding that Yucca Mountain is OK! Why take any chance on contaminating the Colorado River for the rest of our and our children's children's lives?

The nuclear industry would love to have a nuclear storage depot so that they cannot only justify continuing to use nuclear but even add additional reactors to generate even more nuclear waste! Think Nuclear as us yet another Coal Industry that wants a bailout from President Trump!

We cannot allow phony science and the CPUC to screw CA ratepayers again, remember how SCE created the multi billion San Onofre debacle that put all of SoCal at risk of a Fukushima and SoCal ratepayers got stuck paying for it because of a behind closed door deal between SCE and the CPUC!

BTW: CA has a law that until there is a nuclear waste storage site there can be no more NEW reactors located in CA.

Question: So guess who wants a nuclear storage site ASAP so that they can start adding even more SAFE new reactors?

Answer: General Atomic and others!

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AlexClarke June 24, 2017 @ 8:46 a.m.

It seems to me that the cost of nuclear power is one that humankind will be unable to pay.

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