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November 24, 2004

Political Will and Nuclear Waste Storage

Friedrich von Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards:

A few weeks ago I posted on Energy and Politics which you can read here. This little essay included my opinion that in a world where global warming is an issue, we need to get over our fear of nuclear power. To quote my posting:

While the problems of spent nuclear fuel storage and plant decommissioning are real, these are problems that can be solved—with enough political will.

This elicited a rather tart response from one of our readers, David Sucher:

What is your source on this statement? It contradicts everything I have ever read from any sort of serious source.

I’ll admit I was a bit stumped as to how to respond to Mr. Sucher’s demand for “sources” (let alone, “serious” sources.) As I use the term, political will, it refers to the willingness to make certain choices, even in the face of opposition or expense. To give an example: prior to Pearl Harbor, the United States lacked the political will to enter World War II, but afterwards we became committed to victory, despite the high cost in both money and blood.

Granted, situations exist in which the technical constraints complete overwhelm our ability to make choices and thus don’t quality as matters of political will. For example, the U.S. Congress cannot, no matter how much political will it summons, repeal the law of universal gravitation. No matter how much political will I possess, I cannot jump to the moon. But saying that we can store and manage nuclear waste is not like repealing the law of gravity or jumping to the moon. Clearly, it is within the realm of physical possibility that nuclear waste can pile up somewhere. Indeed, it is already doing so. In other words, the storage of nuclear waste is a matter of options among which—because we already have an inventory of such waste—we must evaluate and choose. The question is whether we are willing to pay the costs (financial, medical, biological, and in terms of constraints on our future behavior) associated with any particular storage option, both to deal with the waste we already possess and in order to enjoy the benefits of plentiful nuclear energy in the future. This is a matter on which reasonable people may differ. But perhaps I can advance the discussion by laying out some of the rough benefits and costs of at least a few of the available options.

But first, let me present a short “primer” on the storage and transport of radioactive wastes deriving from power generation activities. This will spell out what I would consider a “base case”—i.e., what will probably occur as the current ‘path of least resistance.’ Much of the following derives from a discussion on the website of the World Nuclear Association, which you can visit here.

Primer on Nuclear Waste

Commercial nuclear power plants in the United States are fuelled by enriched uranium oxide. A large power plant generating 1000 MW needs around 25 metric tonnes (a metric tonne is 1000 kgs or 2200 lbs.) of this fuel annually. The United States has around 100 commercial nuclear plants, many of which are actually smaller than this size. Providing the fuel for a 1000 MW plant requires that around 50,000 metric tonnes of uranium ore must be mined and milled. Wastes from the mining and milling, known as tailings, are roughly 10 times as radioactive as common granite, and are either put back into the mines or buried under rock and clay. This waste, if buried, can be managed by the simple expedient of not having people live directly on top of it, where they would receive around 3 times the normal, or background, level of radiation. (It’s also not a good idea to take up permanent residence inside your local uranium mine.)

Low-level radioactive waste (LLW) products from power generation activities are made up of paper, rags, tools, clothing, filters, etc. which contain small amounts of mostly short-lived radioactivity. Low level waste makes up around 90% of the volume of radioactive wastes from power plants, but contains only around 1% of the radioactivity. Such waste doesn’t need shielding during handling and transport. They can be managed by shallow land burial, as LLW rapidly becomes non-radioactive.

Intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW) products make up 7% of the volume and possess 4% of the total radioactivity of all wastes from nuclear power generation. Such wastes are typically resins, chemical sludges and reactor components, as well as contaminated materials from reactor decommissioning. The bulk of such intermediate level wastes, which are short-lived, can be disposed by being solidified in concrete (a radiation shield) and buried.

There are, however, forms of intermediate level radioactive waste that will be radioactive for lengthy periods of time. Examples include internal structures of the reactor core such as the control rods, which regulate the nuclear reaction, and the source assemblies, which are used to initiate a nuclear reaction after new fuel has been loaded. A 1000 MW nuclear power reactor produces around one half of a cubic meter of such long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste each year. It must be disposed of in the same manner as high level intermediate waste.

High level radioactive waste (HLW)—the spent fuel itself—makes up 3% of the volume and possesses 95% of the radioactivity of all such wastes from nuclear power generation. Such waste generates a considerable amount of heat and requires cooling, as well as special shielding during handling and transport.

So the long-term nuclear waste storage problem pretty much comes down to dealing with the HLW and long-lived ILW. The current fleet of American nuclear plants, which produces around 20% of electricity in the U.S., generates around 2,000 metric tonnes per year of HLW, according to a Scientific American story which you can read here. If such a fleet were expanded to replace all coal-fired generation (which currently is responsible for roughly 60% of U.S. electricity) it would produce around 8,000 metric tones per year of such wastes, and if it expanded to replace all fossil-fueled electricity it would produce around 10,000 metric tonnes per year of such wastes.

Such wastes must be stored for at least five years in pools of water or boric acid on the grounds of nuclear power plants. The purpose of this ‘swimming pool’ storage is to permit the HLW to cool down. (Roughly 90% of the heat and the radiation during the first 100 years or so of HLW’s life derives from two fission products, strontium-90 and cesium-137, which have half lives of about 30 years, according to the MIT Study on the Future of Nuclear Power, Chapter 7, page 58, and can be read here. As a result, both heat and radiation decrease quite rapidly throughout the first century of HLW’s existence.)

When the 5-year mandatory ‘bath’ for HLW is over, as there is currently no long-term repository for HLW in the U.S. to ship it to, nuclear plants either continue to store the waste in their ‘swimming pools’ or they move the fuel to dry-storage containers made of steel and/or concrete to shield radiation. The containers are either placed upright on concrete pads, or stored horizontally in metal canisters in concrete bunkers.

The current plan is for such waste to be transported to a geologic repository via rail and truck, with the waste to be contained inside specially designed casks. According to an extensive discussion prepared by the Congressional Research Service in 1998, which you can read here, the risks of radioactive materials escaping as a result of accidents arising during transportation appears to be quite minimal.

The basic concept of a geologic repository—the long-term storage dump for HLW--is described by the World Nuclear Organization:

Geological repositories are planned in stable rock formations in the main countries utilizing nuclear energy. It is the responsibility of each country to dispose of its wastes. Typically a repository will be 500 metres down in rock, clay or salt. The idea is a multiple barrier concept:

- The waste, either as ceramic oxide (e.g., the spent fuel itself) or through vitrification (separated HLW from reprocessing) is immobilized.
- It is then sealed in a corrosion resistant canister such as stainless steel or copper
- Finally it is buried in a solid rock formation

Contrary to Mr. Sucher’s previous reading, this idea has not been greeted with snorts of derision by most “serious” investigators. The MIT Study on the Future of Nuclear Power, chapter 7, page 54, written in 2003 by 8 MIT professors and a Harvard professor, endorses this idea:

The concept of deep geological disposal has been studied extensively for several decades, and there is a high level of confidence within the expert scientific and technical community that this approach is capable of safely isolating the waste from the biosphere for as long as it poses significant risks…We concur with the view that high-level waste can be safely disposed on in geologic repositories. [Emphasis added]

The good professors go on in an endnote (see chapter 7, page 62, note 3) to document expert support for this conclusion by citing positive conclusions from studies conducted by such organizations as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

In the current U.S. plan, the geological repository will be sited under Yucca Mountain in Nevada (the name “mountain” is honorific; it’s really a long ridge on the boundary of an area previously used as a nuclear test site). According to the DOE’s website which you can visit here, the waste will be sealed in “extremely durable containers” called waste packages, then placed in deep underground tunnels. Drip shields made of another corrosion resistant metal will be placed over the waste packages. As roughly one thousand feet of solid rock will be above the repository, and the Nevada desert is a dry place, the amount of water that could reach the tunnels will be restricted. However, the idea is that if any water did eventually drip into the tunnels, the drip shields and corrosion-resistant waste packages would still protect and contain the waste for tens of thousands of years. This site is currently scheduled to be in business starting in 2010. This may not happen, however, because of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling of July 7, 2004—which you can read here—that may delay operations on the grounds that the engineering of the site, designed to keep HLW isolated for 10,000 years, may need to be revised to keep the HLW stored there isolated for 100,000 years.

The Yucca Mountain site is currently designed to store up to 70,000 metric tonnes of HLW, or around 35 years of the current HLW production by the existing fleet of U.S. nuclear power plants. It won’t actually last that long, of course, as it will also have to be utilized for already existing HLW deriving from both civilian power plants and military nuclear weapons programs. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, nuclear reactors in the United States had generated approximately 49,000 metric tonnes of spent nuclear fuel as of 2003. I believe there’s around 7,000 metric tonnes of military HLW that needs a long-term home. Hence, additional geological repositories will have to be developed, and in fairly short order. (Although the MIT study, in endnote 12 of Chapter 7, page 63, claims that ‘knowledgeable observers’ believe that Yucca Mountain’s actual storage capability could be doubled.) Creating additional repositories will not really be a problem, as at least four other repository sites were identified in the same process that settled on Yucca Mountain.

So there we have our ‘base case’ for the storage of nuclear wastes from power generation activities. Frankly, it’s a workable plan, if by no means unimproveable. (I will discuss several elements about it that I think are ripe for improvement below.) If it’s not without a variety of risks, nothing on this scale is.

If you think that statement is unduly cavalier, I would cite one small example out of literally thousands that could be chosen. Some 41 American lives were lost from fatal coal mining accidents in 2001, according to a trade publication story which you can read here. This annual toll in life, which is sustained, more or less, year-in and year-out, does not include the long term health damage sustained by coal miners, the environmental damage caused by mining, nor the impact on the ecosysterm from air pollution caused by coal power plants, etc., etc. I simply mention this to point out that no choices about energy policy are without costs or associated risks.

Social Choices Concerning Nuclear Waste Storage

Since I’m firmly convinced that nuclear waste storage is a matter of political will—and hence, concerns choices that are within our power to make—I thought I’d try to lay a few of these choices out.

For example, we could simply abandon nuclear power altogether. This strikes me, personally, as a rather weak option. It would mean accepting either a fairly significant decrease in our standard of living and/or a significant increase in our use of fossil fuels. As the Scientific American story linked to above puts it:

Naysayers [to nuclear power] must confront the all-too-real possibility of reduced energy supplies--and the accompanying decline in living standards--should these efforts [to rehabilitate the American nuclear power program] fail.

Clearly economic decline would have a significantly negative impact on the health of the American population. Likewise, the greater use of fossil fuels to avoid such a decline would have significant negative impact on the environment as well (e.g., global warming, air pollution, acid rain, etc., etc.). Moreover, unless we are prepared to accept massive increases in the use of coal, which is the only fossil fuel the U.S. now possesses in the necessary abundance, abandoning nuclear power would also inevitably make the U.S. more dependent on potentially unstable energy exporting countries like Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, etc. While such a policy would be terrifically popular with manufacturers and developers of renewable power facilities, their facilities would not, at least for decades, be able to make up the lost megawatts, and might never manage to replace those megawatts at a similar cost to nuclear power.

But the real drawback of abandoning nuclear power is that it would in no way solve the problem of what to do with the 60,000 or so metric tonnes of HLW we have already accumulated. It’s no longer possible to simply wash our hands (or the hands of our descendants) of this burden, even by choosing to do without the benefits of nuclear power generation.

So while making nuclear waste just ‘go away’—like putting the genii back in the bottle—isn’t possible, we have a number of ways in which we can improve on the above-described ‘base case.’

Improvement #1: When we go into the business of transferring HLW from a variety of locations around the country to the geological repository, the task of providing security for the shipments should be handed over to the U.S. Army or some other heavily armed organization equal to the challenge. I say this because, while the risk of releasing radioactivity from transportation accidents is quite remote, I’m not so sure that it’s beyond the bounds of possibility for terrorists to hijack a shipment of HLW casks and deliberately blow one or more up in a heavily populated area. At a minimum it would seem that all such shipments should be fairly heavily guarded, rather than relying on standard commercial arrangements. (Now, such arrangements may already be in place, but I’m not aware of them.)

Improvement #2: We could choose to utilize Yucca Mountain as a temporary storage facility and meanwhile develop another repository with better chemistry. You may ask, why go to the trouble of moving the nation’s HLW to Yucca Mountain if it’s just for temporary storage? I think this would be a good idea because, at a minimum, consolidating HLW from nuclear power generation in one fairly easily guarded and monitored spot would certainly improve matters over the status quo. And that status quo is currently to hold it “right in the neighborhood” of vast numbers of Americans. A DOE fact sheet which you can read here points out the rather precarious situation that we currently live with:

Currently, [HLW is] stored in temporary facilities at some 125 sites in 39 states. These storage sites are located in a mixture of urban, suburban, and rural environments — most are located near large bodies of water. In the United States today, over 161 million people reside within 75 miles of temporarily stored nuclear waste.

Turning Yucca Mountain into a temporary storage facility would also obviate the necessity for additional studies and redesigns necessary to comply with the 100,000 year requirement announced by the U.S. Court of Appeals, and thus get the HLW out of most people’s back yards years sooner. I grant you, developing a different geological repository with better rock chemistry would be expensive—another $10 billion down the drain—but might well be worth it. According to the MIT study (Chapter 7, page 56):

In siting a repository, it is important to select a geochemical and hydrological environment that will ensure the lowest possible solubility and mobility of the waste radionuclides. The geochemical conditions in the repository host rock and surrounding environment strongly affect radionuclide transport behavior. For example, several long-lived radionuclides that are potentially important contributors to long-term dose, including technetium-99 and neptunium-237, are orders of magnitude less soluble in groundwater in reducing environments than under oxidizing conditions.

Unless I’m misreading the report, the good professors appear to be strongly hinting that in selecting Yucca Mountain, we ended up siting our repository in an oxidizing environment. Bummer. According to the same report, on page 61:

Reductions of two orders of magnitude or more in long-term radiation exposure risks could be achieved by siting the repositories in host environments in which chemically reducing conditions could be ensured. [emphasis added]

Hmm, is it possible that spending less than half of 1% of our Federal budget for a hundred-fold reduction in long term radiation exposure from stored HLW could be a good deal?

Improvement #3: We could choose to adopt a higher fuel burn-up regime at our nuclear power plants. ‘Burn-up’ refers to the amount of energy we extract from a given mass of nuclear fuel. According to the MIT study (Chapter 7, page 55), fuel has traditionally been left in commercial U.S. nuclear power reactors until it yields around 33 MWD/kg. More recently, according to the same study (Chapter 7, page 63, note 6) some plant operators have upped their burn-up to 45-50 MWD /kg to stretch out the time between occasions when the plant has to be shut down for refueling. Higher burn-up translates into a reduction of the volume of spent fuel to be stored, according to the good professors:

An increase to 100 MWD/kg is within technical reach, and even greater increases are potentially possible. Increasing the burnup to 100 MWD/kg would yield a threefold reduction in the volume of spent fuel to be stored, conditioned, packaged, transported and disposed of per unit of electricity generated.

The actual volume reduction in long term radioactive waste needing storage would be roughly two-fold, as higher burn-up creates more long-lived ILW. Still, halving the amount of stuff to be dealt with sounds good to me, and would correspondingly reduce the number of repositories to be sited. And there’s another benefit as well. Higher fuel burnup increases the amount of plutonium isotope 238 in the waste fuel, which makes the plutonium less suitable for bomb work. According to the MIT Study (At 100 MWD/kg burn-up, Pu-238 in the waste fuel would be around 7% of the total plutonium, which is apparently enough to render the plutonium unusuable for bomb-making purposes—at least for thousands of years until the Pu-238 decays (it has a half-life of some 6,000 years). One way to encourage such a high burn-up regime would be to change incentives for nuclear power plant operators. At the moment, the operators pay a fixed amount per kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity generated for storage, which of course creates no incentive to minimize the amount of HLW produced. I’m not sure there’s actually any downside to upping nuclear fuel burn-up; so far, the utilities that have increased their fuel burn-up seem to have actually profited from the move as a result of keeping their nuke plants up and running for increased amounts of time.

Improvement #4: Adopt a reprocessing and transmutation regime to eliminate the dangers of plutonium and reduce the volume of nuclear waste. It is possible to reprocess spent fuel, chemically removing the uranium and plutonium from it, and then to re-use these elements as nuclear fuel. The Japanese and the French do this, claiming that they thereby reduce the volume of HLW that must be stored and increasing the energy yield from the original by about a third. The risk is that reprocessing as practiced by the French and Japanese produces plutonium in significant quantities, which could be utilized to create nuclear weapons (and lots of them, too.) However, according to MIT study (Chapter 4, page 33 and Chapter 7, page 59-60) it would be possible to create a fuel cycle in which the reprocessed plutonium would be utilized in “fast” reactors (that is, ones with a higher level of neutron bombardment) which would produce energy while entirely disposing of the plutonium via transmutation. The “fast” reactors I’m referring to are not breeder reactors, by the way, but very high burn-up systems. While this would not eliminate all long-lived bad stuff from the nuclear waste stream (long-lived fission products like technetium-99 and iodine-129 would remain), it would certainly reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation associated with nuclear power production and reduce the volume of HLW per unit of electricity produced. Moreover, it would also mean that the long-term radioactivity of HLW (that is, radiation being emitted by the stored waste after a hundred years or so), would shrink, as it is chiefly the result of the emissions of the uranium-like actinide elements present—including plutonium, with its 24,000 year half-life. The downside would appear to be an increase, albeit not a terribly large one, in the cost of nuclear power to pay for the reprocessing (as I noted above, the Japanese and the French already absorb this cost, and it doesn’t seem to be crippling their economies which are far more heavily dependent on nuclear power than that of the U.S..)

Improvement #5: Take a serious look at the idea of drilling deep boreholes to provide “permanent” separation of nuclear waste from biosphere. Many of the criticisms of Yucca Mountain as a geological repository ultimately stem from the fact that although the waste is buried underground, it will still be held above the water table—and thus clearly within the biosphere. That has led to the notion of storing HLW in canisters placed far deeper underground, perhaps at a depth of 4 kilometers (approx. 2.5 miles.). This option is described (and the further study of which is strongly endorsed) in the MIT report (Chapter 7, page 56):

Canisters containing spent fuel or high level waste would be lowered into the bottom section of the borehole, [which] would be filled with sealant materials such as clay, asphalt or concrete. At depths of several kilometers, vast areas of crystalline basement rock are known to be extremely stable, having experienced no tectonic, volcanic or seismic activity for billions of years. The main advantages of the deep borehole concept relative to mined geologic repositories include: (a) a much longer migration pathway from the waste location to the biosphere; (b) the low water content, low porosity and low permeability of crystalline rock at multi-kilometer depth; (c) the typically very high salinity of any water that is present (because of its higher density, the saline water could not rise convectively into an overlying layer of fresh water even if heated; and (d) the ubiquity of potentially suitable sites.

That last item, “the ubiquity of potentially suitable sites” is something to remember, because it suggests that in some cases, HLW could be disposed of down boreholes which are located right next to nuclear power plants, removing the need for transportation of HLW and any associated risks. Moreover, the costs of such boreholes seems affordable: according to an endnote in the MIT Study (Chapter 7, p. 63, note 8), a Swedish company estimated that:

…a full-scale 4-kilometer deep borehole could be drilled and cased in less than 5 months, at a cost of about $5 million.

The MIT study concludes its discussion of the subject with the words:

Despite…obstacles, we view the deep borehole disposal approach as a promising extension of geological disposal, with greater siting flexibility and the potential to reduce the already very low risk of long-term radiation exposure to still lower levels without incurring significant additional costs.

Now it may be objected that this is merely a proposal, and one that may not hold up under prolonged scrutiny—as, in fact, it may not. But I included it here (1) because it seems worthy of more serious and sustained study and I’m trying to drum up the political will necessary to get such study funded and (2) so that deep boreholes can act as a sort of stand-in for other ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas for dealing with HLW, of which there are quite a few.

This highlights my final point. Obviously our powers of isolating HLW—or reducing its danger via methods such as transmutation—are far greater today than they were 100 years ago. I strongly believe that our powers to isolate HLW or reduce its dangers will be far greater in 100 years than they are today. As a result, I believe that the use of such repositories as that of Yucca Mountain, which will without any question deal with the problems of HLW for intervals of many centuries, can be relied on while we work out more permanent solutions—ones that we may not even be considering today. So as a final exercise in political will, perhaps we should give up on the desire, however understandable, to demand an absolutely final (and absolutely riskless) solution to the problem of HLW as a precondition to taking the slightest step forward in addressing this problem.



posted by Friedrich at November 24, 2004


Dealing with high-level nuclear waste has never been much of a technical problem. The problem is dealing with the screwy people who have a mystical fear of nuclear power - where do we store _them?_.
Oddly enough, they seem to fear nuclear power plants a lot more than they do bombs. We have something like a thousand nuclear weapons stored just south of town (Albuquerque) and nobody ever seems to get excited about it.

Posted by: gcochran on November 24, 2004 2:53 PM

The great thing about is that you never know what you are going to get.

Posted by: Scott Wickstein on November 25, 2004 2:26 AM

lovelock is a proponent and sterling has a rebuttal here :D

oh, and you forgot here, here, here and here.


Posted by: glory on November 25, 2004 8:41 AM

I've been reading some of the energy blogs and seen it stated several times that there are now nuclear reactors that actually reuse their own spent fuel and don't go all Chernobyl because of the way they're designed. I've read it so many times. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, a link would be much appreciated.

Posted by: lindenen on November 25, 2004 10:21 PM

This site has several links about new energy technologies. I'm thinking of pebble bed reactors and integral fast reactors.

dealing with the excess long term nuclear waste will be a nightmare.

However, the Integral Fast Reactor, solves this problem. This IFR concept has already
been demonstrated during the last two decades, and this reactor design requires only
1 % of the uranium fuel needed by the current conventional reactors, because it burns
the long term nuclear waste as its own fuel while it is being generated. The fuel cycle
is 70 years for these reactors. This is one thing the government must focus on immediately
to commercialize it in a few years. Otherwise a new military draft is the next political change
on the horizon.

Posted by: lindenen on November 25, 2004 10:58 PM

Another fun fact about coal, it contains trace amounts of Uranium. We burn enough coal yearly that the total radioactive waste release from coal plants is much greater than that from reactors.

Posted by: Ripper on November 26, 2004 11:08 AM

Ripper - No kidding? Hot damn! I love me my coal stoves. They produce a great heat (with a kettle of water on top to offset the dryness) and offset our electric heating bills much more affordably than converting to gas or oil burners. I grew up with coal stoves too. I wonder how many Rads I've absorbed.

You'd think that 3rd world countries that use coal as a primary energy source would be positively glowing, by now.

Posted by: Nate on November 26, 2004 1:08 PM

Glowing? no; the release is very diffuse in time and space. Another interesting fact, the Uranium in the next lump of coal you use has more energy than the part you burn.

Posted by: Ripper on November 26, 2004 8:51 PM

Oh, oh. Energy. Next thing you know 2Blowhards will be discussing helium 3 on the moon.

Regarding David Sucher and his demand for 'sources:' I have noticed that he tends to define them as people or articles that reaffirm what he already believes. Sigh.

Posted by: Alan Sullivan on November 27, 2004 5:42 PM

A hundred years from now it's Uranium or nothing.

Posted by: onetwothree on November 27, 2004 7:57 PM

Oh Alan, you are just so sensitive.

Posted by: David Sucher on November 27, 2004 9:27 PM

Michael -
I always enjoy your light-but-meaningful pop culture snippets -- but with the thought that hey, I coud write that as well...
Then you turn out these kind of posts, with, yikes, numbers and research and... and more work then I put into *my job* most of the time [and this is just your hobby!] and I realize I am either stupid or lazy in comparison...
Despite the humbling realizations, I still enjoy your site...
Paul Worthington

Lindenen -- thanks also for the IFR info.

Posted by: Paul Worthington on November 29, 2004 4:27 PM

to dogs it may be the answer to bury a bone and pick it up later, with nuclear waste this is clearly not the answer. so it may be a great energy source and may be a clean one, but with less than 1% of all electrical production in the us being that of solar energy that tells you....uuuuhhhmmm.....maybe we could research solar reflectors and more technologically advanced things to produce that electricity..and more worrying about living near your dear local uranium mine, and hey...ITS FREE TOO!!!!! the long energy and wind generated power could be much better answers than our friendly glow sticks....and we dont have to worry about waste....makes you think doesnt it?...

Posted by: jaime on December 9, 2004 2:14 PM

to dogs it may be the answer to bury a bone and pick it up later, with nuclear waste this is clearly not the answer. so it may be a great energy source and may be a clean one, but with less than 1% of all electrical production in the us being that of solar energy that tells you....uuuuhhhmmm.....maybe we could research solar reflectors and more technologically advanced things to produce that electricity..and more worrying about living near your dear local uranium mine, and hey...ITS FREE TOO!!!!! the long energy and wind generated power could be much better answers than our friendly glow sticks....and we dont have to worry about waste....makes you think doesnt it?...

Posted by: jaime on December 9, 2004 2:14 PM

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