Ref. Wall Street Journal June 2, 2010, Pages A1 and A18.
Ms. Rebecca Smith wrote about Atomic Waste describing the problem accurately and in great detail. She recognizes that "after 3 decades and more than $10 Billion in expenditures the Energy Department was giving up on it's only candidate for permanent storage", Yucca Mountain. She very accurately describes how utilities have solved this problem temporarily by using casks but there are already 14,000 metric tons of "waste" in such storage and 49,000 metric tons being readied for such storage. Unfortunately, this is the "stuff" we were going to store for thousands of years while we "hope" that these casks will be acceptable for 60 years (they are approved for 20 years now).
She fails to mention that this "stuff" has energy value, the equivalent of several thousand barrels of oil PER POUND!
This "spent nuclear power reactor fuel" is the more difficult "nuclear waste" but the other one "depleted Uranium" is more valuable and is much more available. It contains the energy equivalent to about 5,000 barrels of oil per pound, we (the U.S.) have about A MILLION TONS of this "waste" in storage in large drums in storage yards; it is only mildly radioactive. The U.S. has literally the equivalent of TRILLIONS OF BARRELS OF OIL in storage. The rest of the world has more!
The best way to use it is in "SO-CALLED FAST REACTORS". Apparently, Ms.Smith(and the Wall Street Journal)isn't aware that the United States invented them! The first nuclear power plant to generate electricity was such, by the U.S. We were the World Leaders in Fast Reactor development and technology. We are not anymore! Russia probably is and is selling them internationally (to China and India). Many other countries are in various stages of development of this technology. It has never been "so-called". It is our responsibility to see that it is not done here.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the Wall Street Journal and others are aware of the energy options we have and that we use them intelligently. We now understand that all energy sources include a degree of risk including drilling for oil under a mileof water.