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