In Your Face Obama And Reid!

After billions of dollars spent and decades of study and construction of the Yucca Mountain Repository, while nuclear waste has literally been piling up at nuclear power plants across the country, the Obama administration and Harry Reid conspired to abruptly pull the plug on the project, just as it was getting set to start receiving waste. Why? Because Democrats don’t like nuclear power (or electricity generation in general, for that matter) and if there’s nowhere to permanently store the nuclear waste, there won’t be any new nuclear power plants built. Well guess what? The battle for Yucca Mountain isn’t over yet.

Panel Blocks Move to Scrap Yucca Site

Federal regulators on Tuesday denied a request by the Obama administration to withdraw an application for the first national nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

A three-judge Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel said that Energy Secretary Steven Chu doesn’t have the power to withdraw the application because 1982 law “does not give the secretary the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress.”

The administration said in March that it would withdraw the application. The move marked a victory for Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D., Nev.), who has made killing the Yucca Mountain project a priority. Mr. Reid is running for re-election this year in a tough race.

The Energy Department’s application to develop Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository has been pending with the NRC since June 2008, when the Bush administration applied for the license.

Utility operators had expressed concern at the Energy Department’s decision to withdraw the permit application, saying that without progress toward developing a permanent nuclear-waste storage facility some states could refuse to permit new nuclear power plants.

The nuclear industry has contributed about $10 billion to a fund to develop a permanent national waste facility.

See also:
NRC panel: Nuclear waste dump process continues
Energy Dept. Cannot Drop Nuclear Waste Plan
Panel’s decision keeps Yucca Mountain alive
DOE can’t scrap Yucca plans, panel says
RJtv YUCCA MOUNTAIN: NOT DEAD YET
Yucca Mountain: Nuclear Waste in Nevada
Eureka County, Nevada — Yucca Mountain.org
Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository
The Democrat War On Electricity

Of course, the Obama administration won’t take no for an answer and will continue to try and sabatoge the Yucca Mountain Repository because nuclear power is bad. Let’s just hope we can get Yucca Mountain open, so that we can move all the nuclear waste from all across the country to a centralized storage facility, for safety and security reasons, and then maybe we could actually build some new nuclear power plants, like we already should have been doing for the last thirty years.

/it would probably also help to vote Democrats out of office this coming November, so they can no longer obstruct a rational U.S. energy policy

Big Frickin’ Laser Beams, Without The Sharks

Scientists take another stab at nuclear fusion

After more than a decade of work and an investment of $3.5 billion, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say they have created a super laser that will enable them to build a miniature sun within the lab in the next two years.

The U.S. Department of Energy certified the world’s largest laser on Tuesday, an instrument that will test the reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, explore the origins of the universe and seek to create nuclear fusion energy.

Nuclear fusion is the National Ignition Facility’s biggest goal.

By 2010 or 2011, the lab’s scientists hope to achieve ignition – that is, produce the first tiny thermonuclear explosions inside their capsule targets in hopes of ultimately creating a limitless source of fusion energy, the kind of energy that powers the blazing heat of the sun and stars.

“It’s an extremely exciting prospect,” said Edward Moses, director of the laser project. “The search for fusion energy has been a long haul. Some people say it’s better than you can believe, but based on everything we know, the question now is more ‘when,’ not ‘if.’ ”

Researchers have dreamed for more than half a century of tapping the potential of nuclear fusion as a clean, cheap power source. If successful, nuclear fusion energy could be a game-changer for meeting the world’s energy needs. Current nuclear power plants rely on nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms, a chain reaction that produces large quantities of deadly radioactive waste.

But if this costly experiment at Lawrence Livermore fails, it could kill U.S. fusion research for good. Since the 1950s, scientists have tried different processes to create nuclear fusion but have failed. For all the money spent on research, fusion has yet to power a light bulb.

500 billion watts

The National Ignition Facility is 10 stories tall and three football fields in length, and its 40-foot-tall target chamber is shaped like a golf ball. Nearly 200 powerful laser beams are guided by a switchyard of mirrors to arrive at once at the target chamber. The goal is to ignite a tiny hydrogen fuel pellet and produce a burst of energy of up to 500 billion watts of power.

“This is the first time that we’ve built a laser that is capable of reaching the energy and power conditions that can drive the fusion process,” Moses said. “We’re going to be able to create temperatures inside these small targets of over 100 million degrees. That’s hotter than the center of the sun, and very high pressures and densities are needed for fusion to occur.”

Supporters say fusion holds no risk of a nuclear meltdown and will generate insignificant waste byproducts. But fusion’s prospects have been greeted with skepticism.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the nuclear physicist who previously headed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, joked to an audience at an energy conference at Stanford University in 2006 that “I’m going to skip (discussing) fusion because it will probably skip the 21st century.”

The super laser project has been subject to repeated delays and cost overruns since the lab broke ground in 1997. It initially was budgeted at $1.2 billion and scheduled for completion in 2002.

Reliability experiments

Scientists also plan to use the giant laser to conduct experiments to gauge the reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear weapons stockpile. The United States has not deployed any new nuclear weapons in more than 20 years nor conducted an underground nuclear test since 1992.

“Protecting the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear deterrent in a world without nuclear testing is one of the most important things we do,” said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the National Nuclear [Security] Administration.

Additionally, scientists plan to use the Livermore laser to explore the origins of the universe, including the makeup of stars and planets within and outside our solar system. They will examine how materials behave at temperatures and pressures like those at the center of a star.

But perhaps the most critical use of the laser will be the search for nuclear fusion, lab officials said.

A nuclear fusion demonstration project could be up and running in 10 to 12 years, they say, bringing fusion energy a step closer toward commercialization.

“Now, the science can start in earnest,” LaVera said. “The research really begins.”

See also:
World’s Most Powerful Laser Powers Up
World’s largest laser completed: Nuclear fusion, Death Star battle stations next?
Lawrence Livermore Shows Off Its Fusion Power Laser
Giant Livermore laser project ready
Fusion catches fire
Reinventing Nuclear Power
Countdown to Nuclear Fusion: National Ignition Facility Warms Up
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
National Ignition Facility & Photon Science – The Power of Light
National Ignition Facility
National Nuclear Security Administration
National Nuclear Security Administration

Whether it’s hot or cold, fusion suddenly seems to be all the rage these days. All I can say is bring it on!

/abundant and cheap energy, more, faster, please

One Leg Of Our Nuclear Triad Almost Lost In A Fogbank

For want of polystyrene foam, albeit highly specialized polystyrene foam . . .

Nuclear-Warhead Upgrade Delayed; Government Labs Forgot How to Make Parts

The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration had to wait more than a year to refurbish aging nuclear warheads — partly because they had forgotten how to make a crucial component, a government report states.

Regarding a classified material codenamed “Fogbank,” a Government Accountability Office report released this month states that “NNSA had lost knowledge of how to manufacture the material because it had kept few records of the process when the material was made in the 1980s and almost all staff with expertise on production had retired or left the agency.”

So the effort to refurbish and upgrade W76 warheads, which top the U.S. Navy’s (and the British Royal Navy’s) submarine-launched Trident missiles, had to be put on hold while experts scoured old records and finally figured out how to manufacture the stuff once again.

According to the Sunday Herald of Glasgow, Scotland, Fogbank is “thought by some weapons experts to be a foam used between the fission and fusion stages of a thermonuclear [hydrogen] bomb.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy. It is responsible for the manufacture and upkeep of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

A new facility was built at the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tenn., to begin production of Fogbank once again, but was delayed by poor planning, cost overruns and an failed effort to find an alternative to Fogbank.

Refurbished W76 Warhead Enters U.S. Nuclear Weapon Stockpile

The first refurbished W76 nuclear warhead has been accepted into the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile by the Navy, according to a senior official at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This culminates a ten year effort to ensure that the aging warhead, already years beyond its original intended life, can continue to be a reliable part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

“This is another great example of the unsurpassed expertise throughout NNSA’s national security enterprise,” said William Ostendorff, NNSA’s principal deputy administrator. “It becomes more and more challenging each time we extend the life of our nuclear weapons. I am proud that our dedicated scientists and engineers were able to once again meet this unique responsibility.”

Most nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile were produced anywhere from 30 to 40 years ago, and no new nuclear weapons have been produced since the end of the Cold War. Integrated into the Department of the Navy’s Trident II “D5” Strategic Weapon System, the first W76 entered the stockpile in 1978.

Of course, this is just a symptom of a much larger problem, all our nuclear warheads are many decades old and their reliability is becoming a serious issue.

Sure, the DOD and DOE have been pushing inventory modernization and replacement for what seems like forever, but guess what? The Democrats have blocked it every step of the way. And, rest assured, Obama doesn’t want anything to do with anything that contains the word nuclear, not nuclear power plants and especially not nuclear weapons. No Nukes . . . For US

See also:
How the US forgot how to make Trident missiles
Audit: Problems at Y-12
NNSA and DOD Need to More Effectively Manage the Stockpile Life Extension Program
Trident missiles delayed by mystery ingredient
Teller-Ulam design
W76-0/Mk4 / W76-1/Mk4A
Trident II D-5 Fleet Ballistic Missile
SSBN-726 Ohio-Class FBM Submarines
Y-12 National Security Complex
National Nuclear Security Administration
Department of Energy
Department of Defense
Government Accountability Office

The bottom line is that the United States needs to get serious as to whether or not it wants to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent, the kind of nuclear deterrent that has prevented a thermonuclear exchange for over 60 years now. Yes, this country has other issues and problems that weigh more heavily at the average citizen’s kitchen table.

/just remember, without national security we have absolutely nothing and all the rest means diddley squat