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Will Deep Borehole Field Test Invite Nuclear Waste to Spink County? Come to Redfield and Ask!

Battelle Memorial Institute, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and the U.S. Department of Energy are hosting an informational meeting about the Deep Borehole Field Test in Tulare tonight. I’m planning to attend their roadshow at the Spink County Fairgrounds 4-H building in Redfield tomorrow night starting at 6 p.m.

To prep us civilians with information and arguments against this proposed test of a method to dispose of nuclear waste in 5,000-meter-deep holes, anti-nuclear activist Nancy Foust has created a new website, Like friend of blog Donald Pay, who first alerted the public to this project, Foust contends that the borehole test project is a precursor to a full-scale national nuclear waste dump in South Dakota. Battelle has stated proximity to the Dakota Aquifer excludes Spink County from consideration as a nuclear waste site, but suspicion abounds.

I’ll ask the experts at tomorrow night’s meeting to confirm their intentions for our good ground. Readers, if you have questions, come to Redfield and ask them tomorrow night… or submit them in the comment section below!


  1. grudznick 2016-04-27 19:13

    Please ask about the possibility of discovering microbes we have not discovered before and what we could learn about their state of evolution if they were to evolve or mutate due to the heat and pressure of the drilling.

    Could there be any diseases inherent in these microbes that would affect the cattle industry in the area?

    Who is paying for this science and who will benefit from the discoveries besides some eggheads (no offense to Dr. McTaggart who is no egghead and a swell fellow indeed for explaining much of this.)

  2. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 19:32

    That is an interesting thought….what about biological safety? We have not had any problems as far as I know with microbes from deep underground at Homestake.

    Not sure who pays for the research regarding microbes. It may be NSF or USDA, or possibly even DOE. Typically universities end up doing the research, and they partner with other industries to apply the microbes (like to make a better biofuel). So I think the researchers, the university, and the industry partner benefit. Therefore you should want SD Universities and partners to be involved in the biological analysis.

    And thank you for the high praise about not being an egghead :^).

  3. mike from iowa 2016-04-27 19:44

    If wingnuts win the WK and keep congress,I suspect they will declare radiation is good for water-makes it glow in the dark and it makes noise so it can be found easier.

    I just read where Chernobyl will still be cooking for at least 3000 years. Of course,nothing like that could ever happen in America where regulations are so tight oil pipelines can’t leak or nothing.

  4. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 19:54


    I appreciate your healthy skepticism of government. However, Chernobyl will not happen in the U.S. because American reactors do not use graphite as a moderator. That contributed to the runaway exponential power produced at Chernobyl. Plus the graphite burned and the smoke was an excellent vehicle for spreading radioactivity.

    Water in U.S. reactors has an inherent safety feature. If the fission rate increases, more heat is produced. The increase in heat causes the water to expand. Neutrons miss more water molecules as a result. Fewer neutrons are then slowed down to be gobbled up by fission, and the power drops. So if you walk away from the reactor, the power will oscillate about a mean value instead of exponentially growing.

  5. mike from iowa 2016-04-27 19:58

    So what happened at 3 mile Island?
    BTW my skepticism is the only part of me that is healthy.( no joint,ligament,nerve or disk damage anywhere in my skepticism) :)

  6. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 20:07

    I think Three Mile Island was a loss of coolant accident (LOCA), exacerbated by human error. The core did not get enough water to remove the heat, and a partial meltdown occurred. So those nice properties of water were absent.

    The new reactors that are under construction now have passive safety systems to remove heat by convection of a secondary water source. No power needed. It doesn’t work forever, but it works long enough to fix things. 3 Mile Island did not have that feature.

  7. mike from iowa 2016-04-27 20:24

    Thanks for your input. mfi

  8. grudznick 2016-04-27 20:31

    Passive heat removal seems like a really good idea. If you had no mechanical things to break or need power that would be really neat. If you had a double redundant sort of plant it would be a much better plant so I am sure they build those now. Think of a creek of cold water, always flowing down a hill, splashing over the hot things to cool the down using just never failing gravity. And maybe instead of water in a swish-tank you could use radiator fluid to really soak up the heat and then even humans could paddle the fluid around and out to cool if they had to. Multiple systems are a great idea.

  9. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 20:53

    The more moving parts you can remove (as in pumps, generators, etc.) the fewer things that can fail. Thus safety systems are becoming progressively more passive.

    If you want active monitoring of the waste 2-3 miles down, one way may be to use the heat that is generated by the waste. The thermoelectric effect can convert heat into electricity which can run a device, but I don’t know off hand if the heat from the waste would be enough. You may also need a slightly bigger borehole.

    While they are doing the studies, things can be powered by batteries, or connected directly through the drill, or geologists can try out different sonar-like methods from the surface.

  10. Donald Pay 2016-04-27 20:55

    Are you under oath?

    What specific federal and state laws and rules apply to this test? What environmental permits are required? Are these permits subject to contested case hearing?

    Will you immediately release all records regarding all submissions to DOE and contracts, leases, subcontractor contracts regarding this matter, and all correspondence and any other record regarding regarding this matter? Will you demand that every contractor and subcontract release information to the public in a timely manner?

    Why did you withhold information about this test last year if you were serious about obtaining “consent?” How can people “consent” if you withhold information?

    Does DOE believe “consent” can be given by one or a very few people in a state, or by the voters in a state? If a state had provisions that required a vote of the citizens, would DOE abide by that vote? Would you assist state residents in developing a voting mechanism for determining “consent” for disposal of radioactive waste that would be legal under state and federal law?

    Has there been an official determination regarding NEPA compliance for the borehole test? If not, why not? Should an environmental impact statement be required?

    Can you answer point-by-point the ideas and recommendations made by the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board regarding the borehole disposal test? Can you explain specifically for each idea or recommendation whether and how you have incorporated the NWTRB’s ideas and recommendations into your testing plan?

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-27 21:02

    Mutant microbes… borehole unleashes zombie plague… South Dakota becomes ground zero for World War Z… I get dibs on writing that novel!

  12. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 21:12

    Well, if we’re going to do some economic development, let’s get the South Dakota film industry and authors something to work on :^). Our diners need all those writers to need some pie and coffee.

    All of Mr. Pay’s questions sound worthwhile to me.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-27 21:34

    Donald, I’m taking notes. Thank you.

  14. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-27 21:44

    Cory, I have seen that facebook page. I got the impression that folks do not want the research to be done because it may show that the process could be done safely. Cut off the research, cut off the possibility of any development of a facility. Whether that should be located in SD or somewhere else.

    The problem is that the nuclear waste will still sit in facilities that should have been decommissioned already. So we have to spend federal dollars to maintain them that could be used elsewhere (social problems, college student debt, national deficit, etc.).

    If you do not believe the deep borehole disposal process will be safe for radiological materials under consideration (of which there are none in this proposed study), then let this study proceed and fail miserably under its own weight. You will have all the data you want to make your point.

    If you believe that potential transportation issues ultimately need to be addressed before consent can be earned, then I would ask them about that. How secure are the vessels being transported, and what doses would they deliver to someone standing at a certain distance away? Lower level waste is already being transported safely to the WIPP facility in New Mexico.

  15. John Wrede 2016-04-28 00:20

    How does this work? Is this bore hole going to be located on private land or public land? If it is public lands, who’s responsible for management SP&L, GFP, who. If it’s private land, who owns the mineral rights? I like Don Pay’s questions but it strikes me that the Governor’s Office is the one that has done all the “inviting” and “arranging” on this project so what authority does he have on either public land or in the alternative, how has he greased the skids with the private landowner that might host this thing? How much money does the state of SD have invested in this “drilling” operation……….. Who’s paying for this assuming that there are multiple partners and where’s the budget and itemized expenditures? This whole thing smells just like the “Lone Tree Regional Waste Disposal Project” near Edgemont some years back. The taxpayer payed huge for that Government Invitation to degrade our environment right along with the derelict open pit uranium mines that the EPA says aren’t hazardous to the public health, welfare and water supplies………. Same skunk……….just a different dilapidated chemical storage shed it lives under.

  16. leslie 2016-04-28 01:18

    didn’t SDSM&T and Homestake develop microbes on whitewood creek clean-up, how much did they make from that , or was it down in the mine?

  17. leslie 2016-04-28 01:35

    twice now Doc, you have ignored the catastrophic transportation accident via truck or rail in a SD city. Or leakage all across the state’s roads, rails, water, land and atmosphere over short or long periods of time from private operators cutting maintenance costs of containers.

    In other words, when does DOE disclose the entire plan to determine consent? uninformed consent is always the bugaboo.

    Again, thank you for informing the public.

  18. mike from iowa 2016-04-28 02:24

    Wingnuts won’t back this if they find a connection to Planned Parenthood and selling fetal parts to fund this project.

  19. Donald Pay 2016-04-28 06:52

    My past experience on similar issues in SD is that conservatives and liberals don’t divide on this issue. If anything, conservatives are more skeptical of projects like this. But you have to be open to working together.

  20. grudznick 2016-04-28 07:21

    What will happen to the waste from the boreholes? Mr. Pay remembers what happened when tailings were used to backfill around houses in Edgemont. We don’t need that happening in Frankfort.

  21. Donald Pay 2016-04-28 07:55


    Great question. I remember back in the 1970s there was some talk of potential uranium deposits in northeastern SD, and I think Spink County was included, though it may have been farther to the east. At any rate, there will be a need to contain and dispose of cuttings and various drilling fluids.

  22. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 09:59

    Hi Leslie,

    With regard to a rail incident or other transportation accident regarding the transportation of nuclear waste, one needs to ask how much worse will it be with or without the nuclear waste. Any rail incident is a problem just from the kinetics of a crash, but the concern is whether radiological debris will contaminate the area after such a collision.

    We’ve seen the effects of rail incidents that occur with chemicals, ethanol, oil, etc. If those containers were made better, then there would not be any leaks, and there wouldn’t be plumes of smoke from a fire. Whereas those industries will not pay to build the most robust containers possible (or they are not mandated to) the transport of nuclear waste is much different. The feds will not allow containers to be used unless they are more robust and are tested and inspected all the time (non-destructive testing like x-ray analysis or ultrasonic testing can find cracks before they are a problem).

    These containers have to be robust against attack, high-speed collisions with trucks, as well as fire. Plus they have to protect the public from radiation. So I would submit that containers used in transporting nuclear waste are more robust because a whole lot more money is spent on their design.

    Technically speaking, rail incidents involving coal, oil, ethanol, etc. are more likely to spread radionuclides than a nuclear waste train. The naturally-occurring radioisotopes in fossil fuels from the decay of trace elements of uranium, thorium, and potassium-40 as well as Carbon-14 are more likely to be spread by fire than the man-made radioisotopes in nuclear waste due to the rules for transporting nuclear waste.

    I would also agree that they will need to have a plan for the drilling waste that they produce. With regard to the backfilling of homes with tailings, today a simple kit from wal-mart or lowe’s can detect Radon, which would be emitted in larger quantities from such backfill.

    By the way, smoking is a great Radon delivery system to your lungs. Radon will cling to those particles. So if you smoke, you should consider having your home mitigated for Radon. Most real estate agents will recommend that a test be done these days.

  23. Caroline 2016-04-28 10:07

    I attended the meeting in Tulare last evening. One of the presenters, in my interpretation, implied that it was our patriotic duty to assist the country in “Paying the tab for Truman”. If this same kind of comment is made at the meeting in Redfield, which I am not able to attend, I hope that someone will remind the presenters that the people of Spink county, and South Dakota have been doing their patriotic duty for generations by supplying an abundant and safe food supply to our nation. A nation’s first line of defense is always its ability to feed its people.

  24. leslie 2016-04-28 10:14

    Dr., you are aware of backfilling homes with tailings in edgemont? Will the nuke trains, trucks be rumbling thru brookings? will politics privatize and deregulate the nuke waste biz? have you been thru a contested case hearing? followed it from say, hunter swawnson’s arrival in RC to the final payout by the state of $10 mill a decade or so later to SDDS?

  25. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 10:40

    I am familiar with the tales of homes being backfilled with tailings. If I had a time machine I would go back and change that. But now home test kits are able to determine very quickly if that has happened. Furthermore, the open-pit style of mining is not that different from surface mining of coal in terms of its environmental impact.

    The large volume of coal waste is also a concern for me. The equivalent volume from nuclear energy is tiny by comparison. Without nuclear the volume of waste we produce will be larger. Ironically, due to the open access to the environment of naturally-occurring radioisotopes in solar, wind, coal, etc. wastes, the total radioactivity into the environment will also increase. Those levels are too low to impact human health because they are diffuse, but still the difference in the number is substantial.

    I wouldn’t know if the trains will be rumbling through Brookings. I’m not that high up the food chain ;^). The material that they would store in deep borehole disposal is currently located in the states of Idaho and Washington, so unless they took the long road they probably wouldn’t go through here. I have thought that SD would be a good place to locate a small nuclear reactor to either provide process heat for industry or right-size the electricity supply to the demand to partner with renewables (wind, solar, hydro, etc.). Depending on where that would be located, then nuclear fuel could go nearby.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-28 10:45

    Pay the tab for Truman? I’ll listen for that tonight, Caroline. Dr. McTaggart has said the same thing, that whatever our position on nuclear power, we have to take responsibility for the waste we’ve already created and look for the best, safest way to dispose of it. If we have a responsibility to bear, we must make sure we do it in a way that does not interfere with our other responsibilities, like, as you say, feeding the nation.

  27. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 11:02

    Regular waste sites are a bit different that nuclear waste sites. Geological sites that are proposed would be even smaller if recycling took place, because that would reduce both the physical volume and the heat load, which would allow things to be stacked closer together.

    But both kinds of waste sites need to follow the rules…those are there for a reason. We inevitably produce waste, and each waste form needs to be handled appropriately.

  28. Paul Seamans 2016-04-28 11:17

    If South Dakota has any patriotic duty to fulfill in relation to nuclear issues I believe that our dues have already been paid. South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana were ground zero in case of a nuclear war with the USSR. Because of our proximity to Russia these three states with all their missile silos would have been the first areas to be turned into a nuclear wasteland.

  29. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 11:22


    The challenge for the actual deep borehole disposal site (not the one proposed in Spink County) is to show that the transportation issues are resolved and the environmental impact is minimal, and operations can be done safely. They have to prove that to federal agencies.

    Thus the research in Spink County will investigate how well the boreholes can be sealed to keep the waste at depth and away from the biosphere. It would be a good question to ask what else the land that hosts a research site or a real disposal site could be used for after things are sealed.

  30. Lilly 2016-04-28 11:37

    Mr. McTaggart has a creative sense of nuclear technology. IE: don’t ask someone whose income depends on an industry to be honest.
    The reactors at Fukushima are the same design as those used in many of the existing sites. So yes, the US IS under the risk for a major reactor accident. Add to this that many of these reactors are well past their retirement dates and it is not a good situation.
    As for “new” reactors. The only ones even being considered are Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. They are a rehashed version of the current flawed designs. The only feature the new design has that is different in any way is a water tank placed at the top of the reactor building. This tank has its own flaws and could very easily not work to replace water in an accident for a variety of reasons. So no, “new” reactors are not safer or better. Well they are better at sucking taxpayer money as loan guarantees. If anyone wants to see how great these new reactors are check out the Vogtle reactor build in Georgia. It is years behind schedule, billions over budget and may likely never be finished due to numerous construction flaws. Oh and we the taxpayers are on the hook when it goes broke through DoE loan guarantees.

  31. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 11:38

    The cold war may be over, but there are other challenges that we face today.

    Other nations besides us use nuclear power, and they also need secure methods to store waste. They also tend to be more at risk for having nuclear material stolen or attacked. So the sooner we can find ways to safely store our nuclear waste, the sooner it can be removed from consideration for dirty bombs or other nuclear devices. Other nations will essentially copy our successes.

    Once the material goes underground in a deep borehole disposal site, it would be awfully difficult to get it out of there. They talk about retrievability in one of those technical documents that Mr. Pay pointed us to, but I am not sure how easy that will be to do.

  32. Lilly 2016-04-28 11:44

    Per Caroline’s comment. South Dakota has already “paid the tab for Truman” many times over from past failed and mismanaged nuclear related projects in the state. South Dakota (or anywhere else) was never asked to participate in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was done without our consent. If South Dakota owes a debt for what Truman did, it may be to the hundreds of thousand of civilian who died due to what Truman did.

    The bombing of these two cities that were not valid military targets was not done to “end the war”. The Japanese were already in the process of negotiating surrender terms between Russia and the US. The bombing was a willful act to intimidate Russia. Journalist Greg Mitchell has a very interesting rundown of the events that led to those bombings.

    Trying to evoke people’s patriotism to claim it is South Dakota’s responsibility to house a nuclear dump is really beyond offensive.

  33. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 12:23


    I advocate for the safe use of nuclear power and the responsible disposal of nuclear waste, but nobody is paying me for writing articles or participating in this blog. Cory would not want to be paying me per word for the last few blogs….would you Cory :^) ?

    Reactors at Fukushima were similar to some in the United States. After events like 9-11, Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, all of those plants get reviewed so the same things do not happen again. The plants in Nebraska in particular were shut down to account for flooding issues that the NRC wanted to be resolved after Fukushima. There are risks that the NRC rules significantly reduce upon enforcement. Every single little infringement, accidental or otherwise, is made public. NRC staff are at every power plant, and the utilities pay for them to be there.

    We licensed our nuclear plants for 40 years with the intention of building new ones to replace them. We haven’t lived up to that part of the bargain, as has been repeated with much of our infrastructure for roads and bridges. I agree that today’s plants are a complicated way to boil water, and the fewer pumps and components the new ones will have, the fewer things that could go wrong. Most of the time the error is not catastrophic, like maybe a power cable goes bad and they have to trace it, but the reactors will shut down under the right circumstances. In other cases, they preemptively shut down the plant and restart it later.

    If we turn them off altogether, we will burn more natural gas and coal to make up for the intermittency of renewables. Will the U.S. be fine with power blackouts in the summer? No air conditioning? No refrigeration? No clean clothes? I do not want to face that kind of stinky future. Plus I wouldn’t be able to charge up the electric car to go to the laundromat or the restaurant. So there are benefits to having power when we want to use it. If you can live off of the grid, that is terrific, but most choose not to.

    We get to use electricity whenever we want because of the mix of energy sources we have today. We enjoy those benefits, but we must also be responsible with the wastes our lifestyle produces. For coal, those costs have never been truly recovered. For nuclear, we require a high degree of safety for the disposal of the waste. If another technique is safer and cheaper and more reliable than deep borehole disposal, then we should use it. This test won’t answer every question, but it will help address a lot of them.

  34. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 12:31

    Patriotism would be a bad metric in order to site a potential nuclear waste facility. Good luck going into any other state and telling them that a waste facility is going there for the sole reason that they have not been patriotic enough, or that they are receiving more federal dollars than they send to Washington. I don’t think either approach will gain any public consent.

    Besides public consent, the case for siting a real nuclear waste facility (whatever the design) has to be justified from a science and engineering perspective.

  35. Donald Pay 2016-04-28 14:08

    At the risk of getting pulled off on sidebar discussions, Dr. McTaggart brings up a valid point about fly ash and bottom ash from coal fired power plants. Here’s the problem: the people who love and support nuclear power, by and large, are also in love with coal and fossil fuels. They sometimes talk a good game, but never get around to actually demanding or supporting any legislation that would stringently regulate those wastes. Instead they propose dumb ideas, like “recycling” the coal ash into cement, fill or other products. Sounds like a great idea, until your kids are playing on a radioactive cement driveway that is made from coal ash contaminated cement.

  36. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 14:49

    I wouldn’t say that people who love nuclear power always love coal. One of the arguments for nuclear is that you remove a lot of the environmental issues with coal while keeping the baseload power.

    The heavier NORMs (naturally occurring radioactive materials) get re-concentrated in the coal fly ash because the lighter elements tend to leave through the smokestack. For coal, things like mercury or arsenic or selenium are more of an issue than the radioactivity. The chemical half-life of mercury is….infinite, so it will remain toxic because it is stable.

    But yes, if you really want to reduce the distribution of radioactivity in the environment coming from man-made activity, NORMs from fossil fuels need to be part of that calculation.

    One could in principle extract rare earth elements from coal fly ash for use in energy storage and wind turbines. Those get concentrated in the coal fly ash as well, but even after combustion the concentrations are still small. But if we want a lot of electric cars, we will need a lot more electricity, and we will need more critical elements that make up the batteries. The other options are mining or recycling.

    Can we agree that burning more coal to recharge your electric car makes no sense?

  37. leslie 2016-04-28 14:52

    the 1973 OPEC, Syria and Eygpt oil embargo raised prices from $3 to 12 bbl and more. the USA did little; by 1991 Bush had his 1st Iraq war, his son hired cheney to pursue the second one in 2001, likely on behalf of haliburton, kochs and Saudis. now in 2016 the progress you seek has little credibility. lack of transparency so far damages this effort.

  38. Penelope 2016-04-28 16:34

    This report makes it seem like the South Carolina and Texas sites are already in land the DOE has access to. Is there any reason they aren’t using those sites for this? Considering the horrible public reception they get why go through the hassle and extra permitting in ND and SD when they have usable land for testing elsewhere?

  39. Don Kelley 2016-04-28 17:24

    Just for perspective, I think it’s important to note that renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, combined with the new energy storage technologies that are rapidly coming online, are in the process of making nuclear power an expensive, outmoded option. The argument that older technologies are required for steady, “baseload” generation is evaporating. When these renewable sources are distributed, as with rooftop solar, we’ve gained advantages that centralized generation of power can’t provide. These include greater local self-reliance in weather events, reduced losses of power over long transmission lines, and greater grid security, among other benefits. Solar would be a great destination for transferring the large government subsidies now enjoyed by the nuclear and fossil-fuel-fired utility industries.

  40. Douglas Wiken 2016-04-28 18:00

    Wind and solar can provide all the electricity we need and electric car batteries can store the “intermittent energy”. Intermittent, isolated enery can also be used to generate fuels like methanol and anhydrous ammonia.

    Homes are primary consumers of electricity. That can consumption can be reduced by LED lighting and magnetic induction cooking. Insulation can reduce need for added electric heating to about 1500 watts for a home. Canadian testing demonstrated that years ago.

    I see homes built with windows on the north and siting so that excess energy consumption is a given. SD could greatly reduce energy consumption in new construction by providing nearly free but mandated information as part of zoning, etc. Older homes can be superinsulated.

    Any future nuclear plants should be based on Thorium. The Uranium-based systems are obsolete and require complex control systems. The Japanese systems were copies of US systems. I am familiar with engineers from the US who worked on those systems. They believed the fact that US designs were used was rarely if ever mentionsd was because those disasters showed potential for similar disasters in the US.

    Corporate interests are driving energy direction and that is what needs to be turned around before we or anybody else decides to be a waste dump for New York and California..

  41. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 18:59

    Hi Douglas,

    There is a lot to like about the thorium reactors. Some designs (on paper of course) operate in a subcritical fashion, and use an accelerator to provide the extra neutrons. That way, if you turn off the accelerator, you shut down the reactor.

    I do not think there are enough critical elements in the market to support the energy storage with batteries that you foresee to alleviate the intermittency. The output from renewables varies over the time of day and the time of year. For instance, around here it will be more difficult to recharge the electric vehicle with home solar over the winter.

    Molten salt energy storage with solar/wind farms could be part of the solution, since you do not need the rare earths for those. Otherwise you are mining for lithium in Africa or rare earths in China. People forget that those activities have unique environmental consequences.

    In addition to making fuels intermittently, I would consider supplementary heating and cooling. Use wind/solar to heat/cool a building whenever that energy is available, and then take less energy from the grid to make up the difference. Office buildings and schools would be primary beneficiaries of this approach.

  42. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-28 19:11

    Corporate interests are not the only thing driving the energy train. Many people and multiple institutions have removed fossil fuels from their investment portfolios and replaced them with clean energy companies.

    The thing that has really impacted coal however is that natural gas emits half the carbon, none of the other emissions, and is currently cheaper to deliver to the market. Natural gas has also challenged the lifetime extensions of several nuclear plants, and will continue to do so until the price of natural gas spikes again.

  43. grudznick 2016-04-28 21:05

    I wonder how this meeting was. Mr. H is far too abiding a fellow to blog and drive but maybe when he gets back to his residence in Aberdeen he can update us. I saw there was news about this in the media. I hope lots of people showed up but I also hope Mr. H points out that every question asked here was cheerfully and accurately answered by Dr. McTaggart. Thank you, sir. I look forward to the science and learning.

  44. Adam 2016-04-28 22:24

    If a company applies for the permitting of a Class 1 – Deep Water Hazardous Waste Injection Well (which is necessary for nuclear waste injection), then they actually plan on getting paid by MANY industries to inject every single sort of chemical, industrial, medical, mining waste, etc. down there that they can get their greedy little hands on.

    Traditionally, the applicant (company) will promise that they “only need class 1 status because of the one type of pollution they plan on putting down there.” However, in no way are they legally obligated to restrict the toxic waste they inject to any previous expectations. The more waste they obtain from industry, the more profitable that waste well becomes. There is no way to be certain about what kinds of toxic cocktails they’ve shoved into Class 1 Deep Water Hazardous Waste Injection Wells. They can shove just about ANYTHING down those holes.

    There is never an entity who’s stated goals revolve around the public good who’s proposed these injection wells, only industries which need more/cheaper outlets for toxic waste. If South Dakota starts using its land and water as a toxic dump for industries in other states, it will reflect grave shortcomings in who we really are as a people.

    For decades now, the state of Michigan eases its continuous state budget woes by getting paid to haul in all kinds of toxic waste from Canada. It’s one of the ugliest, most environmentally detrimental ideas ever. Overloaded tonnage per axel trucks have been regularly cited by police on main roads. So, the trucks tried to take secondary roads which ended up being closer to neighborhoods where many have reported blood and other medical waste fluids leaking from the trucks onto the streets near homes. It’s absolutely disgusting. I can’t even believe we’re talking about this in South Dakota. I am appalled. If this is part of somebody’s plan to create more revenue for the state budget, like they did in Michigan, I say hell no.

  45. Lilly 2016-04-29 10:32

    Per the comment about thorium reactors. That is total nonsense. Thorium reactors have been tried in the US and elsewhere and found lacking in many ways. There isn’t anything actually “new” in the new idea of thorium reactors. It is a rehash of old technology. It has however been a boon for a couple of publicly traded companies that have been duping investors about this “great future technology” and have no intention or plan to actually build a thorium reactor. Some actual information about the thorium reactors can be found here

  46. Lilly 2016-04-29 11:01

    On some of Mr. McTaggart’s disingenuous claims:

    “I advocate for the safe use of nuclear power and the responsible disposal of nuclear waste”

    Both are oxymorons. There is no such thing. These technologies were turned loose on the private sector to try to create some PR cover after Truman bombed Japan. The world was horrified when they saw the result. Thus the Atoms For Peace program was quickly trotted out claiming the peaceful use of atomic technology. This totally ignored the waste issue, something the people are forever paying the price for. It also ignored that a highly problematic and dangerous technology should not be given over to a capitalist business that will do what is profitable over what is right or safe. This plays out all the time in ways that harm the public.

    “Reactors at Fukushima were similar to some in the United States. After events like 9-11, Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, all of those plants get reviewed so the same things do not happen again.”

    The very limited reviews around the world have been very superficial and most like in the US lack substance. The US has let the nuclear lobby write their own rules and the ONLY thing that has changed is some plants added some portable pumps and generators on site. That is literally the only thing that has changed. The nuclear lobby has fought and won against every other suggested post Fukushima change. This includes filtered vents. The non filtered vents in Fukushima were a significant cause of the radiation releases. Every nuclear plant in current operation including those in the US can easily fall to a Fukushima type disaster. Nothing has changed.

    “The plants in Nebraska in particular were shut down to account for flooding issues that the NRC wanted to be resolved after Fukushima.”

    No this was not the case. Fukushima had zero to do with Ft. Calhoun or Cooper in NE. Ft. Calhoun was already in a maintenance for refueling before the flood actually took place. It had zero to do with Fukushima. There were however a massive list of deficiencies some that had been out of compliance since the 1990’s or earlier that were then required to be resolved. This was due to increased oversight brought about by multiple site failures that happened during the weeks of the flood. People can find out more here. It had nothing to do with Fukushima. It was OPPD’s massive incompetence.
    Cooper never actually ceased operations and had no special NRC inspections tied to the flooding.

    “If we turn them off altogether, we will burn more natural gas and coal to make up for the intermittency of renewables. Will the U.S. be fine with power blackouts in the summer? No air conditioning? No refrigeration? No clean clothes?”

    That threat sure gets used frequently by the nuclear industry. Power demand is flat and isn’t projected to increase.

    Most newer nuclear power plants have a generation capacity of 1000 MW (1 GW)

    In 2015 8.6 GW of new wind power was installed. 7.3 GW of new solar power was installed. For a total of 15.9 GW of new generation power. That is equal to almost 16 nuclear power plants worth of new energy generation ability just in 2015 alone. One year. Most nuclear power plants take decades to build.

    The notion of baseload power has been largely debunked.

    Anyone who lives in SD knows the wind blows 24-7. Even with the few days where wind potential is lower, that can be made up with load balancing. Battery technology is also being implemented by various industries and is on the verge of becoming commonplace for home and grid use.

  47. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-29 11:03

    Wind outside my window in Aberdeen right now: 3 mph.

  48. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-29 11:31

    India, not the U.S., is the one nation to keep an eye on regarding thorium reactors. They have a lot more thorium than uranium. More or less they must decide whether to burn more coal or do more nuclear, and they would benefit if thorium reactors work out. And there are engineering issues that must be solved, but they are not starting from zero.

    We would benefit too, given that rural areas of India are now being connected to the grid and their growing standard of living will consume more power. If that population of 1 billion turns to coal to provide the bulk of their power, that would be bad for the planet.

  49. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-29 11:39

    Wind is great. It should be a part of our energy portfolio. But when you flip the light switch, the windmills do not start turning.

    Wind turbines do not start turning and generating power unless there is a minimum speed. If it is too windy, they must shut down to avoid problems (they can explode in fact…it is on youtube somewhere). Wind energy only has a capacity of like 20% as a result. It may be windy somewhere in the U.S., but now you are losing energy while transmitting energy over long distances.

    Where is the essay on what they are doing with all of the broken wind turbine blades, or the environmental consequences of mining for rare earths, or the need for wind recycling. Is wind green? Yes. Perfect? No.

    I think you are making a good case for small nuclear plants to come onto the market to reduce building and licensing times and costs, and to provide more power to replace coal.

  50. Adam 2016-04-29 13:37

    McTaggart wants to make this into a nuclear power vs. wind conversation – as if solar isn’t out shinning wind nowadays. Clearly though, this is about a new toxic waste dump where industries of all kinds, in other states, would be encouraged to dump their hazardous waste here. It’s not about encouraging new small nuclear plants to be built, it’s about disposing of the toxic waste that industries have been storing, and procrastinating the treatment and disposal of, for decades now.

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