I don't really have time to write this post, I really should be working on my paper for FMCAD, but Utah Policy is putting together a blogswarm on this topic. So if I miss tenure because this paper gets swatted into the cheap seats during peer review, then I'll get both a pay raise (by switching to a non-academic research job) and a safe, friendly West Desert. A true win-win situation.
KEUR has the best visual information on where the nuclear waste storage site will be and what it will look like. There are three reasons that nuclear waste should not be stored at Skull Valley.
First, Utah's West Desert is a beautiful place. If you've ever enjoyed the mathematical perfection of a desert sunrise, or you've watched a huge harvest moon rise in the east at exactly the same instant that the sun set in the west, or you've played with your kids on hardpan in the soft diffuse light of a desert sunset then you know what I mean. People who haven't been to the West Desert just don't get that. Storing more of the nation's garbage out there will ruin it a little more and eventually it will be gone. If you look at the KUED map, you can see that the West Desert contains it's fair share of the nation's waste. Let's let someone else have a turn.
Second, the Skull Valley Goshutes information page titled "Storage Problem" clearly states that "Many US nuclear reactors will exhaust reactor storage space by 1998. Without a storage or disposal facility, the viability of many of these plants is seriously in question." Well, 1998 came and went and the US power grid is still up and humming along. So either the Goshutes are using a different calendar than I am, or the 1998 crisis wasn't as bad as we thought itwould be and we don't need Skull Valley as bad as we thought we would. Let's leave the low-level nuclear waste where it is. It's safe to transport and store right? So let's just skip the transport step and just store it.
Third, we should turn it into a giant golf course for foreign tourists. That wasn't my idea, it was Scott Carrier's. Scott's onto something there. Lots of empty space, lots of jobs for local economy. And, the half-life of a biodegradable golf-ball in the West Desert is about 144 days and that's a lot shorter than the half-life of a spent nuclear fuel rod.
There may be other reasons not to store nuclear waste there. If you can think of them, then send them to Pam Schuller over at the BLM.