"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."