Tuesday, April 09, 2013

mordor, steady $$ for Bechtel, employment for the unproductive, and hell on earth for you...,

zerohedge | Engineers around the world have done a great job developing nuclear technologies to serve mankind’s many endeavors: medical devices, power generators, naval propulsion systems, or the most formidable weapons ever built, so formidable that they could largely wipe out mankind and its many endeavors.

However, engineers haven’t figured out yet what to do with the highly radioactive and toxic materials nuclear technologies leave behind. They leak through corroded containers, contaminate soil, water, and air, and after decades, we try to deal with them somehow, but mainly we’re shuffling that problem to the next generation. The enormous sums coming due over time were never included in the original costs. We’re not even talking about an accident, like Fukushima, whose costs will likely reach $1 trillion, but about maintenance and cleanup.

For example, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, the largest, most daunting environmental cleanup project in the US. More than 11,000 people work on it. Nine relatively small reactors on that property produced plutonium, starting in 1943 through the Cold War. In 1987, the last reactor was shut down. What remains are various structures, such as the evocatively named “Plutonium Finishing Plant” (aerial photo: red “X” marks denote sections to be demolished) or the “Plutonium Vault Complex” that stored plutonium for nuclear weapons (photo of corridor).

Buried underground are 177 tanks containing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and toxic waste. The 31 oldest tanks, made of a single layer of now rust-perforated carbon steel, have been leaking highly radioactive and toxic sludge into the ground for decades.

Hence the “Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant,” a radiochemical processing facility. In its annual report to Congress, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which has jurisdiction over the “defense nuclear facilities” of the Department of Energy (DOE), describes the task at Hanford:
After these wastes are retrieved from the tanks, the plant will chemically separate the waste into two streams of differing radioactive hazard and solidify them into glass in stainless steel canisters. The low-radioactivity glass will be disposed of onsite, while the high-level waste glass will be shipped offsite for permanent disposal once a repository is available.
Turns out, almost none of it, according to the report, can be done safely or at all. And that “repository?” It doesn’t exist. Despite decades of trying, the US has not been able to come up with one.