Skip to main content

This will be short and sweet. Not that the Obama people take my advice (lord knows), but the McCain campaign has given you a beautiful gift all wrapped up in a bow for you to hammer him on in swing states across the country.

The issue? Where is John McCain going to store all the radioactive nuclear waste his 45 new nuclear plants will produce? [More after the terrorist fist jump]

In every swing state, from Ohio, to Florida, to Colorado, Barack Obama can give a version of this stump speech:

"Now, Senator McCain says he wants to build 45 new nuclear plants across America as part of his energy policy. But all those nuclear plants will produce highly radioactive and dangerous waste that will stay that way for thousands of years.

So where is John McCain going to store all of that highly radioactive nuclear waste. Maybe he will store all of it here in [City, State]!

Just imagine, thousands of canisters of radioactive waste shipped to you like a book from

But, this is a serious problem. Where you store the nuclear waste from a reactor has been one of the largest stumbling blocks to building new reactors. And, typical for Republicans, John McCain doesn't tell you where he's going to store the waste, if he even cares about it.

Not only that, Senator McCain voted in the US Senate against storing the nuclear waste we now produce in his hoe state of Arizona.

So, apparently, its OK to dump all that waste in Ohio, or Florida, or Colorado, but not in Arizona. In fact,

Well...I'm not going to create moire nuclear waste. My energy plan addresses our energy problems, without creating more radioactive waste. We need an energy plan that looks to the future, develops a new green economy and does it in an environmentally friendly way. That's what my plan does, and that's why I'm running for President of the United States."

Barack can tailor that speech to whichever community he's in. And, you can bet John McCain will have to explain where he is going to store all of that waste.

Ideally, you could figure out how much waste 45 new reactors would produce, and then be more specific about how much nuclear waste tonnage is involved.

But the point is for Obama to use the NIMBY principle to his advantage for a change.

He could even joke about how he suggested inflating yoru tired properly, but at least he didn't propose dumping _ tons of nuclear waste across America.

What would you rather have? Properly inflated tires that improve your gas mileage, or a nuclear waste repository in your community?

The seems like a no-brainer to me.

UPDATE: Video of McCain opposing even the transhippment of nuclear waste through Arizona.

Originally posted to Hesiod on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:43 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Talk about a no-brainer! BTW, this is funny... (5+ / 0-)

    Someone put an Obama sticker on the Straight Talk Express. LMAO!!!!!

    Treat folks with no respect and be treated as if you are without respect.

    by fhamme on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:49:11 AM PDT

  •  You forgot about reprocessing (4+ / 0-)

    I'm pretty sure that McCains energy plan also has funds to start commercial reprocessing of spent fuel.  Reprocessing was suspended in 1977 and then was restatred again in the 80's but there was no money put behind it, so, it really was not restarted.

    If we were to go heavy into nuclear power, we would have to reprocess as well - so I'm not sure this is the gift you perceived.

    •  NIMBY always works. Obama needs to play hardball. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Let MCcain explain the technical details. If you're explaining, you're losing.

      •  You're only losing if... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...the people you are explaining to are idiots.  And given the fact that the number of people who self-identify as Republicans is now 10 points below those who self-identify as Democrats, how can explaining something with any measure of intelligence be a losing stratgy?  People are tired of soundbites, bullshit and lame attack ads.  They want real answers and real solutions.  Yesterday's reports from the campaign trail proved that...

        I want my Two Dollars!

        by Ken in MN on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:03:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The proposed waste storage site is in OHIO (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        at the Piketon DOE reservation in Pike County, in Jean Schmidt's district.

        That's the reason that McCain promised "a large part" of "700,000 jobs" from nuclear revival to the Piketon area when he gave a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, Ohio, nearby. But he did not reveal the jobs would be associated with spent fuel storage.

        Piketon is the ONLY federal site that has been proposed for centralized SNF storage.

        All Obama has to do is challenge McCain to say where he would store the waste and specifically ask McCain if he would store SNF at Piketon.

        Conversely it's the height of foolishness if Obama fails to raise this issue.

        99% of south Ohioans oppose SNF storage at Piketon. Southern Ohio Neighbors Group has worked the issue for two years -- see

        This issue wins Ohio in November if played right.

  •  Problem is, nuclear power's critically important. (3+ / 0-)

    You should have watched the PBS program last night on global warming and "global dimming", the significant reduction in sunlight reaching the earth's surface due to atmospheric soot pollution. It left me profoundly depressed.

    Turns out that more than half of the global warming due to CO2 production has been blocked by the cooling effect of atmospheric particulate pollution, meaning things are much worse and much closer to an irreversible tipping point, so says James Hansen. And the production of soot/particulate pollution is now dropping rapidly due to pollution control efforts. Paradoxically this is going to radically accelerate the pace of global warming.

    And unless we drastically reduce our production of CO2—not stabilize, but drastically reduce—within the next 10 years, we are likely to see worldwide average temperature increases on the order of 12° – 15° or even more. This is not an inconvenience; this will end civilization.

    My take on this is we won't have the luxury of "purity" here. Every single potential opportunity or method of reducing CO2 production will have to be exploited to the maximum if we are to avoid a genuine catastrophe.
    Including nuclear.

    And yes, I understand that no nuclear plant will come on-line within that 10 year window; but it's all of a piece; every single method of reducing CO2 emissions will need to be maximized.

    •  Sadly, the word "nuclear" ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wondering if

      ... evokes the same reaction from a segment of the left that the word "evolution" evokes from a segment of the right.

      And sadly, both reactions are roughly equivalent in their knee-jerkiness and abhorence of basic reality.

    •  and it's a piece of the puzzle (0+ / 0-)

      If we are serious about energy indepndence...serious about reducing greenhouse gasses....serious about reducing airborne pollution - then nuclear power is a good trade off to coal and oil plants.

      I understand the NIMBY approach but this is serious - and I think the next President (hopefully Obama) will fast-track some of these initiatives.  If we allow every spicial interest group to create barriers and slow the process, nothing will get done.

    •  No, Nuclear does not reduce CO2 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hesiod, peace voter, revgerry

      Nuclear plants work in tandem with coal to power the US central grid. Investing in nuclear plants make replacement of the grid unavoidable, at a trillion dollar cost, and that acts effectively to subsidize the coal as well as nuclear industries.

      We have two choices:

      1. We replace the central electrical grid with major increases in both coal and nuclear as we move to electric-powered transportation.


      1. We ditch the big grid entirely and invest all our energy capital in photovoltaics, passive solar, wind, geothermal, hybrids, fuel cells, and small local grids. In this scenario, central nuclear plants can't operate, nor can big coal plants.

      One or the other. Capital is not unlimited. Only choice 2 addresses CO2, and that is why Gore does not include nuclear in his mix.

      •  That's not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Gore does not include nuclear in his mix.

        That is simply not true. It is not a majority portion of the mix, but it is there nevertheless.

        As for the rest of your comment ... it's as equally nonsensical as your claims about Gore.

        Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
        -- George Eliot

        by bryfry on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 07:06:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gore only includes existing nuclear (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          He opposes investing more money in nuclear because it would drain capital away from better options.

          His father practically built the AEC and TVA -- Gore understands exactly why nuclear is not the solution.

          •  Gore's plan (0+ / 0-)

            intrinsically relies on nuclear power for 20% of production. Now, how can his plan rely on nuclear for 20% if new plants are not built to replace the ones that will be eventually retired?

            But in any case, your claim that "Gore does not include nuclear in his mix" is sheer nonsense.

            By the way, the TVA is aggressively pursuing nuclear energy today. It brought Browns Ferry Unit 1 back online last year, and it is now working to finish Watts Bar Unit 2, which will be the first new reactor to come online since 1996.

            Did Al Gore complain? I think not.

            Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
            -- George Eliot

            by bryfry on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 10:20:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Gore has been asked about nuclear (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peace voter

              and he explains that the capital costs make nuclear an unviable option, and that he's against further investment in nuclear.

              Actually there are many inconsistencies in his most recent plan. I think it was rushed to respond to the Pickens plan before Gore worked out the details -- but he's clearly against more nuclear investment.

              20% sounds like he just took the current figure and assumed continuance, though 20% is not accurate. The actual current nuclear net contribution to electrical consumption is more like 12 or 13%.

              •  Wrong and maybe right (0+ / 0-)

                First, you're completely wrong about nuclear's contribution to electricity in the US. Recently (2003-2006), nuclear's portion of the electricity production in the US has fluctuated between 19.3% and 19.9% -- so, 20% is a good round figure. (source)

                However, you might be right about the Gore plan. There is just too much speculation to be sure. We're attempting to read Al Gore's mind right now -- a dangerous proposition when any politician is concerned.

                Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
                -- George Eliot

                by bryfry on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 01:52:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  wrong and wrong (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not reading Al Gore's mind, he's said it repeatedly -- you'll find it if you search his recent comments on nuclear power.

                  Your source on the nuclear contribution is percent of electric PRODUCTION measured at point of production and it is not a true net since fuel cycle consumption is not subtracted -- only power plant consumption is subtracted.

                  I said I was giving the figure for true net percentage of CONSUMED electricity -- that is measured at point of consumption, which is the accurate measure. Since nuclear power plants are located furthest from points of end use, the electricity from them has the greatest transmission losses. And before we started importing most of our enriched uranium, uranium enrichment alone was consuming about 3% of US electric power.

                  So if you subtract fuel cycle consumption and measure at point of end use, the true nuclear contribution is about 12 to 14%, not 20 by a long shot.

                  •  I don't where (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    you're getting your information, but you should change sources. You're talking nonsense.

                    For example, if you had said "before we stopped producing massive amounts of nuclear weapons" before going on about the amount of electricity required for enrichment, then you might have been somewhat accurate. Historically, the vast majority of energy used in enrichment was used to produce highly enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons and provide fuel for nuclear submarines and small research reactors. The energy required to make the low-enriched uranium that is used in today's commercial reactors is relatively tiny.

                    Even using the obsolete, inefficient gaseous diffusion process to enrich the uranium, the amount of energy required to enrich the fuel for a typical US plant is only 4% of the energy that the reactor will produce. Modern gas centrifuge plants are about 50 times more efficient. Thus, if centrifuge technology is used, the amount of energy needed drops to less than 0.1% of the amount of energy produced by the reactor.

                    You're also way off when it comes to distribution losses. For example, which do you think has more distribution losses before it gets to a consumer in California: hydro-generated electricity imported from the Pacific Northwest (California imports more electricity than any other state) or nuclear-generated electricity from the Diablo Canyon and San Onofre plants?

                    Besides, the distribution losses in the US account for only 6.6% of the net power generated (according to the IEA statistics for 2005). So even if all nuclear-generated electricity suffered from distribution losses twice as large (13%) as this average and even taking into account all of the energy needed for enrichment by inefficient gaseous diffusion technology, nuclear still generates over 17% of the nation's electricity. If centrifuge technology is used, the number is closer to 18%, which indicates how little enrichment affects the overall picture.

                    These are overly pessimistic assumptions, however. In reality, the distribution losses to get electricity from nuclear plants are not much different than the losses from other power plants. In addition, much of the fuel that is being used today has come from down-blended uranium from Russian nuclear weapons, so there were no energy costs associated with enriching the fuel (the Cold War weapons programs of the Soviet Union payed for that long ago). So I'm sticking to my figure of almost 20%.

                    Where on earth did you get 12-14%?!

                    To get as low as 14%, the distribution losses would have to be 29% -- almost a third of the energy lost on the line!! You've got to be kidding me. Were you high when you wrote that?

                    In any case, it's clear that you haven't gone through the figures and worked out the math. Better luck next time. Try doing your homework first.

                    Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
                    -- George Eliot

                    by bryfry on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 03:56:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •   Fantasy (0+ / 0-)

                      Nearly all nuclear weapons in the United States have used plutonium, not enriched uranium. SOVIET nuclear weapons used enriched uranium to a large degree, which is totally irrelevant. The vast majority of American enrichment went for low-enriched uranium for power reactors.

                      The second greatest use of enriched uranium in the US was for naval propulsion reactors, not nuclear weapons. But during the era of intensive naval enrichment, the enrichment plants consumed a whopping 6% of US electric power, not 3%. During that period, which I am not counting, enough naval-grade uranium was produced to stockpile the stuff for future use, so naval enrichment had practically ceased by the 1980s. After the 80s almost all enrichment was for nuclear power.

                      You simply don't know what you're talking about, and if you think you do -- name the last US warhead to use enriched uranium.

                      •  I should know better (0+ / 0-)

                        than to stick my nose in here, but I believe most plutonium is made by burning enriched uranium in nuclear reactors.  

                        •  Not in the US (0+ / 0-)

                          In the US, weapons plutonium has been made in military breeder reactors that run on natural uranium with a moderator to slow the neutrons. You wouldn't want enriched uranium because it's the U-238 that converts to Pu-239.

                          There have been various military reactor designs used, and even if some used slightly enriched uranium, the amount of enrichment involved was trivial.

                          You may be thinking of British reactors that ran on enriched uranium, with the spent fuel then reprocessed to extract plutonium for weapons. The US chose to separate the civilian and military streams.

                      •  You can bicker (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        about the timeline all you want. It doesn't change anything.

                        It is a simple fact that the US had a substantial amount of highly enriched uranium for military purposes. For example, USEC reports that over a decade ago the US government has "declared 174.3 metric tons (MT) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) as surplus military material," which was "primarily from dismantled US nuclear warheads." They've downblended a little over a third of this material by now to make enough low-enriched uranium fuel to produce over 52 GW-years of electricity in today's reactors.

                        That's not a trivial amount of HEU, and that's just the surplus stuff.

                        Besides, I ran the numbers assuming the worst case -- that is, assuming gas diffusion is used to enrich all of the uranium used to produce the every single kWh of electricity from nuclear today -- and it hardly changed the numbers at all. So, taking enrichment into account, perhaps nuclear produces 18.5% of the US's electricity instead of 19.5%. Big deal.

                        I fail to see why you're still beating this poor dead horse. Let it rest in peace.

                        Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
                        -- George Eliot

                        by bryfry on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 10:00:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

    •  I understand the problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but if the tipping point is within ten years, why would we be spending billions, diverted from other forms of energy or conservation efforts making more efficient homes, etc. from this important goal, when it can't help us reach the goal.

      I think I want no drama Obama in charge of the group think on this one.  Finite resources, finite time, maximization of effort, needs a cool head.

  •  Not just where will it be stored... (5+ / 0-)

    ... but what cities and towns will have waste shipped through them on freight and train without even being informed?

    'I have long enjoyed the friendship of Republicans because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.' --- W. Wilson

    by droogie6655321 on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:57:35 AM PDT

      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hesiod, revgerry

        I'm a professional writer, and the first piece of writing I was paid for involved nuclear waste and how it is shipped around the country wihtout the knowledge of the locals.

        There was something creepy about that, to me. You'll often see a news story about a jackknifed truck or a derailed train, and I always think how lucky people were that there wasn't anything radioactive in there.

        'I have long enjoyed the friendship of Republicans because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.' --- W. Wilson

        by droogie6655321 on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:02:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which is why onsite reprocessing... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wondering if

          ...makes even more sense.  Couple that with an increasing worldwide demand for uranium and it starts to make economic sense as well.  The rest of the world gets it and is moving beyond the (well founded, I will admit) hysteria of the 1980's.  We can do nuclear if we do it right, such as not building facilities on sensitive watersheds (Prairie Island, MN) and fault lines (Diablo Canyon, CA).  Let's be smart about it for a change...

          I want my Two Dollars!

          by Ken in MN on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:19:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  As a professional writer (0+ / 0-)

          I'm sure that you appreciate the value of research.

          I suggest that you go ask the folks at Sandia Labs about the reliability of the casks that would be used to ship spent nuclear fuel.

          The Navy has shipped radioactive materials around the country (mostly by rail) for over four decades. Never heard about it? Perhaps that's because there's nothing to hear about. It's all done very safely with containers that are heavily over engineered to do their job.

          Now, compare that to the fuel tankers that might have passed your car on the interstate in the past week and think about how thin their tanks full of highly inflammable material are. Now that's creepy.

          Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
          -- George Eliot

          by bryfry on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 07:13:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cask integrity is a minor issue (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's the issue they WANT us to focus on.

            The much larger issue is that every spent nuclear fuel shipment becomes a terrorism target. Every transport route invites the possibility of IEDs, shoulder-launched missiles, hijacking or bridge demolitions -- and all the security restrictions needed to cope with those possibilities. Multiply that by many thousands of shipments.

            THAT is why McCain didn't want shipments coming through Arizona. Cask integrity is a diversion by the industry.

            •  Ah ... (0+ / 0-)

              Now you're thinking like a neo-con.

              "Beware the spooky terrorists. Do what I say."

              You've learned well from them.

              Never mind what the facts are. Never mind actually explaining what the spooky terrorists would actually do with a spent fuel shipment that weighs tons and is held in a robust container that can survive a collision with a freight train. (Do you really think that a shoulder-launched RPG is a threat for a nuclear cask? Go watch this.)

              I guess that evoking the threat of terrorists means never having to say you're sorry.

              Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
              -- George Eliot

              by bryfry on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 10:33:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  nuclear weapons get shipped from here to there (0+ / 0-) recent incidents.

  •  Uhhh... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wondering if

    ...actually, electricity has to come from somewhere.  Do we trade buring oil in our cars for burning coal in electrical plants?  If you want real solutions look to how France has managed nuclear power.  That nuclear "waste" is mostly uranium that can (and should) be reprocessed and reused as reactor fuel...

    I want my Two Dollars!

    by Ken in MN on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:59:18 AM PDT

  •  2 questions on nukes... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1.  Why can't existing nuclear reactors obtain comprehensive accident liability insurance on the open market?  They are now covered by the Price-Anderson Act (look in Wikipedia), which provides a massive subsidy to the nuclear industry in the event of an accident, and limits payout to Americans.
    1.  All nukes generate (breed) Plutonium when neutrons hit U-238 in the fuel rods.  This produces a high-level waste that is responsible for prolonged periods of storage.  These spent fuel rods are sitting in water tanks as the radionuclides decay, but they should be reprocessed to get the Plutonium out, which is a much better nuclear fuel.  Ah, but Plutonium makes excellent, compact bombs, so every reactor has a weapons connection, and not just in Iran.

    There is a major disconnect when nuclear energy is discussed by anyone, and all speakers avoid the weapons connection and liability issues. It would be nice if Barack Obama enlightened the voters in this area.

    •  You just made an excellent argument... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wondering if

      ...for the nuclear power industry to become part of The Commons, run by We the People, for our national benefit and not for profit.  Only the people, via our elected government has the capability and resources neccessary to manage the financial and security risks inherent in nuclear power.  If we can put a man on the friggin' moon, we can sure has hell do nuclear power correctly...

      I want my Two Dollars!

      by Ken in MN on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 06:23:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Two replies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The first being, nuclear power plants do have comprehensive liability insurance, the maximum that is privately available.    PA allows for means by which people who would be injured in a catastrophic incident can receive compensation.  Catastrophic in this case being an incident that generates greater than $10 billion in damages.  Below that limit, its private insurance and the nuclear industry that pays.

      While you are correct that plutonium does produce nuclear weapons, it requires a high percentage of a specific isotope (Pu239).  While Pu239 is produced in normal reactors, once a fuel rod is being used for longer than about 3 months it becomes too contaminated with Pu240 to produce a weapon (and also hazardously radioactive).  Fuel rods used for the production of electricity are "burned" for at least a year, and I imagine the average is closer to 4.  

      You could say that every reactor has the capability of producing weapons grade plutonium, but having to refuel every 2 to 3 months to produce weapons grade plutonium doesn't happen at any legitimate electric plant.

  •  Yucca Mountain is a volcano... (0+ / 0-)

    Senator McSame doesn't seem to know that Yucca Mountain is a volcano which could erupt within the next 400 years.


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site