U.S. Nuclear Waste Disposal -- Only One Company Cashing In

This article was written by Oilprice.com -- the leading provider of energy news in the world

Each year the U.S. spends an estimated $30 billion on nuclear waste disposal, yet due to the incredibly high barriers to entry into the market there are almost no companies that offer disposal services. Many organizations over the years have tried to establish low-level waste disposal sites, but only one site has actually opened, giving the controlling company, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) a monopoly of the market and allowing it to earn a substantial portion of the $30 billion.

Rodney Baltzer, president of WCS, explained to The New York Times that the company has dug a huge pit in Andrews Country, Texas, with others planned to be dug over the next few years, into which a base layer of nearly waterproof clay has been set. Then a layer of concrete was poured on top, reinforced with steel, and then three layers of plastic. The low-level nuclear waste is loaded into large concrete containers and then placed in the pit, which once full will be covered by a 40-foot thick cap of concrete, clay, and finally a special cap to prevent prairie dogs from burrowing into the area.

All this allows the waste to be buried for thousands of years in a safe manner, and WCS benefits by being able to sell the space inside from anywhere from $1,000 up to $10,000 per cubic foot.

The pit where the waste is stored.

The pit where the waste is stored.

Low-level nuclear waste is a term that includes contaminated tools, protective clothing, used-up filters for radioactive water, hospital and laboratory wastes, and also all debris (radioactive steel and concrete) from demolished nuclear power plants. Demand is expected to start to grow as more nuclear reactors around the country approach the end of their lives and demolition crews move in.

In 2013 alone, utilities around the country announced the retirement of five reactors, a decision partially forced by the low electricity prices that. The Vermont Yankee reactor is 41 years old and will soon close down, whereupon it will send thousands of tons of debris to the Texas site for safe disposal.

Environmentalists have mixed views over WCS. Scott A. Kovac, the operations and research director at Nuclear Watch New Mexico, who has been critical of the disposal operations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said that he "was impressed with their (WCS') low-level waste cell," and noted that it was "a generation above anything at Los Alamos."

However Tom Smith, an environment specialist who leads Public Citizen Texas, noted his concern about the location of a local aquifer that had once been mapped to run under the site. A more recent map showed that the aquifer ended before the site began, but Smith called into the credentials of this map, based on the fact that the chancellor for the Texas Tech University System was once a lobbyist for WCS.

2014's top investment 
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

 

Related article: This Unpronounceable Name Could Unlock a Major Uranium Prize

Related article: U.S. Desire for Short Term Profit could Lead to Nuclear Power Implosion


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2804403, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/25/2014 5:15:49 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 7 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
NASD 4,483.72 30.92 0.69%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes


Advertisement