Saturday, February 19, 2011

The “klobuchar” as a new unit of measure

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says, “Let the nuclear chain reactions begin!” She thinks that Minnesota should lift the moratorium on building new nuclear reactors for electricity generation.

Why, it’s perfectly safe. Even though we have no place to permanently store spent nuclear fuel – and you have to store it a long time – the current system of above-ground on-site storage is just fine. Well, at least according to Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, who was touring a 3M plant recently, with Sen. Klobuchar in tow:

Minnesota's two nuclear power plants, operated by Xcel Energy in Monticello and near Red Wing, store their waste outdoors in a system of protective steel containers called "dry cask storage."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has declared that outdoor dry cask storage is not hazardous and should be safe [should be safe?; imagine my relief] for the next halfcentury [sic], Chu said.

"The nuclear waste problem is a solvable problem," he said. "We've got time to decide how to go forward."

Amazingly, some of the same people who don’t trust the federal gubmint on just about anything seem eager to accept Chu’s word on this one.

punctured klobucharThink about how old your kids, or your grandkids, will be in half a century. Then, think of a dry cask of spent nuclear fuel held to their temples and imagine what names they might call you.

Since we’re likely to be talking about storage of a lot more spent nuclear fuel, we’ll need a handy way to refer to quantities. Each dry cask holds 40 spent fuel rods. Henceforth in discussion, 40 rods – one dry cask – shall be known as one “klobuchar.”

The punctured klobuchar at right is by Avidor.

N.B. Please read the comments for a discussion about nuclear power company liability and financial responsibility in the case of a leak or meltdown.

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