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E-M:/ Michigan's Nuclear Question

DTE energy wants to build a new nuclear plant in Michigan, a really dumb idea that is not getting the attention it deserves in the environmental community.  Columnist Jack Lessenberry writes about it in the Metro Times.


What do we do — what do all the nation's nuclear plants do — with the spent nuclear fuel? This is especially a problem for DTE Energy. The stuff remains radioactive and highly dangerous for thousands of years.

Within three years, they will run out of room to store the rods in the huge fuel storage pool they now maintain on the site. Then, they will have no alternative but to store it in heavy steel containers known as "dry casks."

Then the casks will pile up. And up and up and up. Something similar is happening at nuclear power plants across the country. Michigan's first nuclear plant, Big Rock, near Charlevoix, was torn down years ago. Not a brick remains.

Except, that is, for a building holding the spent fuel rods. There are pools and piles of these things all over the nation. The most logical thing — especially in the age of terror — would be to have one central site where all this stuff is to be safely stored and guarded.

And there is supposed to be one — the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada. The federal government agreed on this as the place years ago. After numerous delays, it is now on course to start accepting nuclear waste ... 10 years from now, on March 31, 2017, Al Gore's 69th birthday. Except that ... it probably won't happen. Why? For one thing, the new Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is from Nevada, and doesn't want his peeps irradiated.

"Yucca Mountain is dead. It will never happen," he says.