Despite the fact that Yucca Mountain is over 20 years late in its completion (at the earliest), and despite the geological limits of the site due to fault lines and volcanic activity, the Department of Energy wants to expand Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste.Enter Barack Obama. His budget cuts off most funding to Yucca Mountain. The New York Times reports:
Not to mention the government told utility companies it would begin dumping their waste in 1998, and began collecting from them of one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour generated at their reactors. Alas, it is 2008 and the repository is not ready, leaving the United States with a tab of 11 billion dollars or more in commercial damages.
Lawyers are predicting tens of billions of dollars in damage suits from utilities that must pay to store their wastes instead of having the government bury them, with the figure rising by about a half-billion dollars for each year of additional delay.
The courts have already awarded the companies about $1 billion, because the government signed contracts obligating it to begin taking the waste in 1998, but seems unlikely to do so for years. The nuclear industry says it may demand the return of the $22 billion that it has paid to the Energy Department to establish a repository, but that the government has not yet spent.
What a catastrophe. Basically Yucca Mountain has cost billions to build thus far, billions in compensation for its inability to be completed 20 years after its target deadline, and billions to cut off.
And nuclear energy is supposed to lead the way to a renewable future? Pssshhhh.