Tim Echols: ‘Let’s privatize handling of nuclear waste’

China is subjecting Japanese tourists to radiation tests, and Germany has sworn off nuclear power. But Tim Echols, a member of the state Public Service Commission, has a more interesting response to the nuclear debacle in Japan: Increased privatization.

From his op-ed piece in today’s Athens Banner-Herald:

The nuclear plant crisis in Japan threatens to chill any nuclear renaissance in the United States. One reason is that it appears the Japanese have procrastinated with regard to the disposal of nuclear waste, just as we have in this country.

I believe it’s time to demand that our government turn nuclear waste management over to the private sector. As Heritage Foundation nuclear expert Jack Spencer recently testified, America’s disposal strategy has failed…..

This country has more than 60,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste stored at more than 100 sites in 39 states. The country’s 104 commercial reactors produce approximately 2,000 additional tons of used fuel annually. While I wish the government would take the waste to the partially completed Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada as promised, we’d need nine such repositories by the turn of century to house all the waste we’re producing, according to Phillip J. Finck of the Argonne National Laboratory….

The government promised to take title to the used fuel and dispose of it. It did not. With its pledge to take the fuel, the government removed any incentive for power-generating companies to develop better ways to manage it. So, it sits – at our expense – as a liability.

I believe the federal government has had its turn. Let’s allow utilities, nuclear technology companies and consumers to manage used nuclear fuel.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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46 comments Add your comment

Southside Shawty

March 25th, 2011
11:39 am

LOL. I can only imagine that kickbacks and sweetheart deals that would occur should this happen.


March 25th, 2011
11:41 am

Right! Compound the endless folly by privatizing disposal of nuclear waste.
I’m sure South Georgia or Alabama would be happy to welcome a new landfill/nuclear garbage dump (over an aquifer) built by Haliburton and paid for by the American taxpayers.


March 25th, 2011
11:48 am

wow. what a fool.


March 25th, 2011
11:51 am

So, a private firm is just gonna plant this stuff wherever without gaining public approval? Yeah right! And, the same private firm is going to invest how much to secure the material? Sorry — Nuke waste is a national security risk. The Constitution is clear — you don’t privatize national defense. Next…


March 25th, 2011
11:56 am

Great Idea! Privatization has just been wounderful at saving money and preventing corruption…

Better yet they can claim limited liability and confidential business infromation exemptions when the accidents happen and contamination spreads across the communities hosting the nuclear fuel dumps! I can see their profits and stocks going up already – can’t wait to invest in this idea…


March 25th, 2011
11:58 am

I am okay with that, as long as the first disposal site is next to Echol’s house!


March 25th, 2011
12:00 pm

Yes. Your garden variety conservatives in this country and especially in this state are absolutely f***ing insane. Nothing can convince them that their dogmatic adherence to a silly and shallow ideology is wrong.


March 25th, 2011
12:05 pm

Just call it “economic development” and it can all be arranged in secret!


March 25th, 2011
12:06 pm

I’m guessing he’s a Republican because their answer to anything is to “privatize it” no matter how stupid it would be.


March 25th, 2011
12:07 pm

Yeah, you Progressive fools can go down with this statist ship. Your belief in benevolent and effective federal government is just plain ignorant and hypocritical and no hope of ever changing that. Go kill some Libyans ya freaks.


March 25th, 2011
12:14 pm

Nobody is saying the US government is perfect, but it’s better than most governments and many corporations. Take Lehman Brothers for example…and a lot of banks in Georgia….


March 25th, 2011
12:14 pm

Yeah, because private industry is soooo transparent and accountable. Maybe they’ll find a nice schoolyard to put it next to. Is this really what the Heritage Foundation thinks?

Betty Boop

March 25th, 2011
12:23 pm

Hey Losers,

Extract head from a$$ before posting.

Booger Fling

March 25th, 2011
12:34 pm

People like this guy have destroyed this country. With such bright ideas he must have graduated from APS.

Dunno… Mystick55, you around to verify?

Sandy Smith

March 25th, 2011
12:39 pm

I, for one, don’t want some corporation cutting corners to save a buck when dealing with nuclear waste. Don’t get me wrong – I love capitalism, but mixing a profit motive with something so lethal isn’t my cup of tea!


March 25th, 2011
12:42 pm

Tim Echols!! What a numbuts!!!


March 25th, 2011
12:48 pm

Is he saying he wants Georgia Power to dispose of its own nuclear waste?

How about a couple miles off Jekyll Island? That OK?

Or better yet, turn the old Ford Lakewood plant into a nuclear waste disposal site!


March 25th, 2011
12:53 pm

Your rant just goes to show that with right wingers, if your position makes no sense, you start name calling because you cannot defend your position in a logical way.


March 25th, 2011
12:56 pm

Wow, I’d say nuclear waste is about the last thing I’d want to trust a contractor to do. Most companies would dump it into the Chattahoochee if it would increase company margins and executive bonuses. Then guess who’d be ultimately liable for the countless lawsuits that would arise (that companies would skillfully dodge) — taxpayers.

And to “Losers” – your belief in benevolent and effective corporations is just plain ignorant and hypocritical and no hope of ever changing that.


March 25th, 2011
12:57 pm

This is not a private versus public argument.

The problem with nuclear waste disposal is getting the site approved for the facility; private versus government will make no difference in getting the location approved. The reason Yucca Mtn. is not open has nothing to do with government waste, inefficiencies or overruns (although there has been overruns). It’s because the Feds won’t approve the location (probably more to do with Harry Reid not allowing it).

Unless the private company plans to sneak the waste into the sewers, landfilll or ocean, when nobody is looking, it will have the exact same problems getting a site approved as a government entity.

Political Mongrel

March 25th, 2011
12:58 pm

@losers: the belief by conservatives that private businesses do a better job than the government in most things is a fool’s dream. This nation is full of the remnants of failed businesses and successful businesses that failed to do jobs they were hired for properly. Privatization has successes and failures, but this is one area that we can NOT afford a failure. The majority of start-up businesses fail, period. Toxic waste dumps all over the US are the product of private businesses.


March 25th, 2011
1:01 pm

Sure, you can trust big business to follow the safety guidelines. They wont take any shorcuts for higher profit margins.

BP did a real bang-up job with their steward resposibilities.

You sir are an class “A” IDIOT.


March 25th, 2011
1:02 pm

Gov’t is mandated to the well being of their people.
Private companies are mandated to their $hare-holders.

No private allowances on this, ever.


March 25th, 2011
1:02 pm

We already do that. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is responsible for the cleanup and management of waste at Savannah River Site.


March 25th, 2011
1:10 pm

This Tim guy is definitely a Repub. I guess he’s also thinks himself some kind of energy guru. He’s all over the media talking about his great CNG car and doing “sting” operations on moving companies.


March 25th, 2011
1:21 pm

Simple solution:
A lottery
Every state with a nuclear plant or research reactor in it drops one token in per unit
Public drawing like the old draft
Last token drawn get the prize
If we need eight more the seven next to last have a head start in moving away…

Next problem?

The Snark

March 25th, 2011
1:29 pm

How stupid is this guy? The reason the federal government was unable to open Yucca Mountain was because of sustained opposition from Republican state officials.


March 25th, 2011
1:30 pm

And this is the reformer on the PSC? What an idiot. While we are at it, let’s also privatize the army and police and fire depts. nationwide. Nothing like the profit motive to keep us safe. Isn’t that what got us into trouble at Three Mile Island and the Japanese today? Let’s just let Ga. Power or Tokyo Electric handle it. If I didn’t live here with my friends and family, I would say that Ga. almost deserves to be nuked for the idiocy of its elected officials and those who elect them.

poison pen

March 25th, 2011
2:13 pm

Betty Boop, Priceless!

Definitely White Water, (yeah).

March 25th, 2011
2:14 pm

Just keep the radiation away from my privates, thank you, ma’am.

The Goobernator

March 25th, 2011
2:23 pm

I smell campaign contributions and Consulting contracts for Echols.


March 25th, 2011
2:30 pm

This is the worst idea I have ever heard from a politician. I would hardly call any of the ideologues of the Heritage Foundation an expert of anything. While many of them may be good writers, they frequently ignore research and strong evidence that contradicts their opinions. They are a conservative think tank and not a good resource for true research.


March 25th, 2011
2:40 pm

I generally support privatization but not in this case. I fully agree with jd.

Freedom lover

March 25th, 2011
2:55 pm

If every energy producer was forced to pay their own way COMPLETELY and without any government subsidy we would not have half the problems we have today. Nuclear energy might never have been put into this much use if it hadn’t been for the useless worthless government saying it would handle the waste (and of course not doing the job). The wars in the middle east would never have been waged if the oil companies had to provide their own security rather than the US military. The BP oil spill might never have happened if the government hadn’t voted to limit liability for such spills, etc. Every intervention into the market by government causes horrible problems.

If everyone paid their own way, who knows what wonderful, innovative energy we might be using today or what sort of wildly varied choices we might have. Frankly we all might be making our own energy in our communities or right in our own homes and giant central grids, dangerous polluting power plants and the like might be just distant memories of our horrible past.

Government is the evil that we all must fear. The free market, that holds people accountable for their own liability, is the thing we must embrace for a change.

Devil's Advocate

March 25th, 2011
3:01 pm

Just remember, a recall on improper nuclear waste disposal is not an option! A $20 credit on my next power bill isn’t going to “fix” any mistakes made either. I’ll bet ol’ Echols believes no private corporation has ever sacrificed quality, staff employee payroll, or corporate principles to protect the bottom line.

Devil's Advocate

March 25th, 2011
3:05 pm

Freedom lover,

What is stopping any private entity from having personal responsibility in producing alternative energy sources and/or nuclear waste management? The free market only affords its participants opportunity. It does not even attempt to protect you from failure and disaster. That is why the free market is great for hamburgers and power tools but not so much for nuclear waste disposal.

Junior Samples

March 25th, 2011
3:09 pm

Why are we ranting about this on Jim’s blog?
Tim Echols has an email address.


March 25th, 2011
4:05 pm

Let me try to understand the Echol’s philosophy: government involvement and subsidies of nuclear waste disposal = bad, government involvement and subsidies for natural gas cars = good. Makes perfect sense.

Freedom lover

March 25th, 2011
4:10 pm

Don’t get my message wrong. I am saying that there should have been private responsibility from the beginning. If there had been, and a realistic accounting of potential liability, a respect for the private property of others (that includes underground pollution of aquifers, etc. nuclear may never have been a viable option for anyone. And what would have been the tragedy in that? Or a sounder version of nuclear might have been invented. To pass off accountability today, given the way the EPA and other government agencies allow businesses to violate the rights of everyone with impunity, is complete nonsense. Private industry may be able to solve complex problems better than govenrment (the simple ones too), but when the moral hazard of govenrment intervention, allowances, contract violation, property rights violation, “acceptable standards”, etc. is introduced, the private citizens are certainly not safe. But fundamentally the government should never be in charge for several reasons not the least of which is that all liability falls to the citizens. This is little more than socializing the costs while privatizing the profits. If a company is going to make billions off the power they sell, or the reactor they build (GE), then they should be picking up ALL the costs for properly disposing of the waste, etc. You refer to burgers and power tools, but please explain how it is fair for all citizens to have to suffer the consequences of irresponsible business when the business and its owners/stockholders get to reap all the profits. Not promoting socialism, but just the opposite.

Art Leo

March 25th, 2011
6:03 pm

Why doesn’t someone look into who sold Echols his CNG car, and at what price? Rumor has it that it was a pretty nice deal.

Capital Idea

March 25th, 2011
7:02 pm

I know! Let’s hire BP to take care of the stuff. They’ll know how to spill it to get rid of it and make it look like it didn’t get spilled and then get the tax payers to pay them to clean up nothing while they are on vacation playing in the spilled stuff. It’ll work, I tell you.


March 26th, 2011
1:48 am

Your next elect. utility bill will include a HAZMAT charge.


March 26th, 2011
11:05 am

Only God Herself can control nuclear power.


March 26th, 2011
2:23 pm

I think he’s found another group of lobbyists to shakedown.


March 26th, 2011
10:59 pm

If this were handled by the private sector, ever, we would face dire consequences. Notice all of the issues we currently have with pollution of water supplies and the subjection of people to hazardous material…unknowingly.

Justice costs money. I am sorry it is not cost efficient. If you hand this responsibility over to the private sector they will do the least safe but most cost effective thing. That is what capitalism is all about. Profits. Not lives and livelihoods.


March 29th, 2011
11:12 am

Here’s one way to think of this issue: compare the half-life of nuclear waste with the average life span of a corporation.