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Nestled in the back woods of Vermont, history is being made, much to the chagrin of those who oppose nuclear power plants. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. is celebrating 25 years of successful operations of its Vermont Yankee Plant.
Many of you won`t remember the times when this industry was in its infancy. Fuel reprocessing was one of the guarantees that the government had promised as a hedge against high costs. Indeed, three major reprocessing plants were built but never allowed to operate. This was not new technology–navy cores and others were already reprocessing. Even in those days, the fact that only half of the fuel was spent meant that the other half was capable of being recycled and recovered for use. In today`s terms, only about 3 percent would remain as high level mixed waste if the plutonium and remaining half of the uranium oxide fuel was recovered. Three percent as compared to 100 percent that is slated for the high level repositories that can`t be decided upon.
All because our government can`t make good on its promises, and in today`s highly sophisticated world, can`t trust itself with its own controls. We would, of course, also have to license Pu reactors, which would only make things better for the consumer and allow less dependency on foreign oil, less fossil fuel burning, and taking on the responsibility of not stashing our waste for some future generations to have to dig up and probably reprocess themselves.
Why do other countries do this with success? An area that the United States is not No. 1? They can and we can`t? But we can make the new stuff that doesn`t pose any radiation threat to handle, where the used fuels are lethal to handle until separations near the end of the recycle. Now which one makes the most sense for a terrorist?
Talking about an indirect government fleecing of Americans? Yes! Three Times! Unused fuels that could be recovered, approximately $100 million per core load, shipping and disposal at a high level mixed toxic and highly radioactive waste repository, and the building and operations of the repository. Three first-hand problems which are not concerned with the ecological problems of burning fossil fuels.
Yes, there have been some problems. Man made. The industry has improved. Cars, radios, refrigerators–almost anything you can name got much better. They had a learning curve and were forced to improve.
Please think on this and thank Vermont Yankee and those older plants like it, showing it can be done. Keep `em generating.