The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity.
A single uranium fuel pellet contains the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil.
In response to growing concerns over nuclear waste storage, Congress passed the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982.
The U.S. first began using nuclear power to produce electricity in 1957.
The amount of electricity produced by a multi-reactor nuclear power plant would require about 45 square miles of photovoltaic panels or about 260 square miles of wind turbines.
The intended method for providing long-term isolation of spent nuclear fuel in the U.S. and most other countries is mined geologic disposal.
As of May 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 444 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 63 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.
The Agencies: Who Does What?
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is an independent agency created by Congress. Its mission is to regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials in a way that protects public health and safety and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power reactors, nuclear fuel cycle facilities and medical, academic, and industrial uses of nuclear materials. The NRC also regulates packaging for the transport, storage, and disposal of nuclear materials and waste, and licenses the export and import of radioactive materials.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) coordinates with the NRC to set rules for the packaging of nuclear materials. DOT also works with the NRC and affected States to regulate their transport. DOT regulates carriers, sets standards for routes, and is responsible for international agreements on the transport of all hazardous materials.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field. Part of the United Nations, the IAEA sets global regulations in many areas of the nuclear industry. IAEA’s regulations for materials packaging and transport serve as a model for the United States and other nations.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible by law for disposal of spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear power reactors.
Saving Science From Itself The New atlantis
“Sometimes the problem is not that it is hard to come up with facts, but that it is all too easy. This is why science almost never provides a solution to politically controversial issues. Usually it does the opposite, providing peer-reviewed and thus culturally validated truths that can be selected and assembled in whatever ways are necessary to support the position and policy solution of your choice. If this observation seems implausible or overstated, consider that after forty years of research on the risks and benefits of mammograms, their effectiveness is more contested than ever; similarly, after more than twenty-five years and $15 billion of research to assess the safety of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository site in Nevada, nothing has resulted beyond political gridlock. In neither case does the science add up to a unitary truth. What we have, instead, is trans-science that ‘weaves back and forth across the boundary between what is and what is not known and knowable.’” READ MORE...
How Yucca Mountain Was Selected, Studied, and Dumped
Waste of a Mountain presents the story of the effort to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
The book also describes the history of the United States government’s actions that created the first-ever quantity of high-level radioactive waste and then managed it while the government developed the means, and completed the effort, to identify the approach and location to permanently dispose of that waste. It covers a time frame of more than seventy years and describes the nation’s journey through technically complicated, and societally and politically treacherous territories to unearth and implement the capability to dispose of high-level radioactive waste.
The book presents the extensive story of the Yucca Mountain siting effort in a manner that reflects a perspective from inside the project.All proceeds from the sale of the book have been donated to the Museum and will support the Yucca Mountain exhibits at the Museum.
$100 (shipping + $15)
Contact the Museum at:
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January 2, 2017
As the new energy secretary, if you are confirmed, you will have to learn a lot very quickly. The Department of Energy (DOE) is a cornucopia of scientific wonders, brilliant people and, to be truthful, some duplication and wasted effort. Read More...
January 2, 2017
When we think about nuclear energy, what usually comes to mind are its worst consequences. The disastrous accidents of Chernobyl and Fukushima—as well as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—loom large in the debate over whether we should rely more heavily on nuclear power as part of a shift toward a low-carbon energy economy. But do these terrible events loom too large? Read more...
January 3, 2017
Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons had quite a year in 2016. Our new President-elect made nuclear more front and center than it has been in decades, coming out in favor of nuclear power and discussing nuclear weapons in an open, if frightening, way. Read More...
Using data collected from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the map identifies where the agency has set up Superfund sites, where uncontrolled hazardous waste remains in the environment.
Dots in warm colors on the map represent the toxic sites scattered around the nation. The dots range in hue depending on the severity of a site’s hazardous ranking score, with red signaling a high score while dull yellow represents a low one.