Nuke folks worry

The nuclear energy industry is fretting over the next president’s stand on the proposed federal dump for high level nuclear wastes at Yucca Mountain.

“I’m a little worried about his position on nuclear power,” American Electric Power Co. CEO Michael Morris told Bloomberg News. Obama has described the Yucca project as outmoded and called for “exploring new alternatives for safe, long-term solutions based on sound science.” Obama could withdraw the license application for the project that is now pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In the conservative American Spectator, William Tucker wrote this week, “Obama … opposes Yucca Mountain, which is a shibboleth among opposition groups. Ironically, Yucca Mountain only became necessary when Jimmy Carter canceled nuclear fuel reprocessing in 1977, creating the so-called problem of ‘nuclear waste.’ France has pursued reprocessing and stores all its high-level waste from 40 years of producing 75 percent of its electricity in one room at Le Havre. Rather than heeding this example, however, the Obama Administration is much more likely to do exactly what California did during the 1980s and 1990s—stall both coal and nuclear construction while adopting huge subsidies and mandates for ‘renewable energy.’ Within a decade we could find ourselves where California was in 2000—saddled with huge quantities of expensive ‘alternate’ energy while not having enough electricity to run its traffic lights.”

Tucker neglected to report that reprocessing is extremely expensive.

Even before Barack Obama’s election, changes were underway on the Yucca project. Bechtel SAIC Corp. LLC was removed as project manager at Yucca Mountain, a change that took many observers by surprise.

Edward Sproat, head of the federal civilian waste program, last week said the Department of Energy plans to ask Congress to expand the planned storage capacity of the Yucca project or else build another waste dump somewhere else. (Yes, that’ll happen.)