"Atomic Waste Gets 'Temporary' Home"

"Three months after the U.S. cancelled a plan to build a vast nuclear-waste repository in Nevada, the country's ad hoc atomic-storage policy is becoming clear in places like Wiscasset, Maine.

Wiscasset doesn't even have a nuclear-energy plant anymore. The Maine Yankee facility was shuttered back in 1996 after developing problems too costly to fix, and the reactor was dismantled early this decade. What's left is a bare field of 167 acres cleared and ready for development--except for one thing.

Left behind are 64 enormous steel-and-concrete casks that hold 542 metric tons of radioactive waste. Seventeen feet tall and 150 tons apiece, the casks are protected by razor wire, cameras and a security force.

Casks like these are the power industry's biggest hot potatoes. Their presence at a defunct reactor site like Wiscasset's underscores the intractability of the nuclear-waste problem confronting the power sector and the failure of U.S. policymakers to find a permanent solution. Meant for temporary storage next to energy plants, these containers are now serving as de facto indefinite repositories around America."

Rebecca Smith reports for the Wall St. Journal June 1, 2010.

Thursday, June 3, 2010