October 3, 2010

News watching is a curious obsession.
Among the many other neurotic proclivities living in my brain-matter’s attic, most likely the deep-set roots for this constant need for situational awareness is a fear of missing something — missing the bus, missing one of the kids’ birthdays, missing an appointment, missing a vital door key, even missing the boat — and this kind of scared-of-the-dark by-product is highly-amplified by an extraordinary time in history.

Due to an amazingly-ugly, perfect-storm-like coming together involving so many important, vital areas of human activity there’s this macabre (from Old French, Danse Macabre, “the Dance of Death”) intuition that I’m watching the end of an age via my shitty-Windows laptop.

(Illustration found here).

The view from this vantage point, however, ain’t pretty.
In fact, it’s depressingly morbid, down-right frustrating and more than a bit frightful.
And this frightful thing? Ignorant fear, which procreates nasty, dumb-ass violence.
Weave fear onto denial of the obvious and you’ve got one huge, feces problem.

Actual fear of this sort?
One came like a mushroom turd-cloud this morning — a report on the rapid development of nuclear energy in the Middle East.
Via TheOilDrum:

The UAE might be the smallest of the countries but it has the most ambitious of all programs with a total of 14 power plants proposed, with a combined production capacity of 14, 400 MW. (One thousand MW could power about 250,000 American homes.)
The ground work for the first four are already underway.

One can understand the absolute-requirement to drastically cut carbon emissions, and even the needs of more and more electrical power, but yet no one really knows what to do with all that nuclear waste matter eliminated from the bowels of some-freakin’ dangerous mechanisms.

Despite all the so-called governmental reports, the last one just last month from the NRC, storing this horrifying waste matter is akin to a plot in a Orwellian slasher-porno movie — one must remember the ingredients in this fecal matter is radioactive and can kill/do grievous bodily harm for thousands of years.

Currently, the only way to store this more-than-mega dangerous stuff (do use a shit-load of hyphens, huh?) is in what’s labeled as “dry casks” — as diagrammed at left — which are installed above ground on site of the power plant itself.
There’s estimated to be about 70,000 tons of radioactive waste stored in casks at 104 US nuclear plants in 35 different states, arranged in neat rows, similar to familiar huge, round oil-storage tanks, but smaller, leaner, meaner.

(Illustration found here).

The illustration link above (from July 2009) is a good reference background to the major dumb-ass problem with nuclear power and although there’s some information on the disposal of this stuff — a recent MIT study on the situation ‘…says the U.S. is in no hurry to solve the problem of disposal of high level radioactive waste nor should it rush into investments in fast reactors. It recommends against any investment in recycling spent nuclear fuel.’

Despite nuclear power advocates hollering about safety and clean energy, etc., etc., — the entire industry and all its byproducts is right now nothing more than an unimaginable, catastrophic accident waiting to happen.
And what about burying the shit?
After nearly 30 years and nearly $10 billion already spent, President Obama earlier this year cut funding for the Nevada’s Yucca Mountain disposal site after it appeared there were unattended problems attached to the project.
Especially, to the Native American peoples who call the site home: Because of U.S. nuclear testing over Nevada, the Western Shoshone Nation is already the most bombed nation on earth. They suffer from widespread cancer, leukemia, and other disease as a result of fallout from more than 900 atomic explosions on their territory.

In Europe, plans to bury the radioactive waste is bogus and unsafe even as the EU is getting hyped up building more nuclear plants.
A major review of the science on underground storage, commissioned by Greenpeace, reveals the dumb-ass of the idea.
From The Ecologist:

Report author Dr Helen Wallace says people need to “grasp the enormity of the challenge.”
“We’re talking about trying to contain this waste for a greater amount of time than human beings have been living on the planet, so although [we] might be able to predict the consequences over a short time scale, that’s an enormous scientific challenge.
“This waste is extremely radioactive and very hot so it’s going to significantly change the water flow deep underground; the corrosion of materials and the repository will release large quantities of gas which have to escape somehow.”
She warned the waste will “remain dangerous for many generations.”

A fear’s fear.

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