More than a TAD

Commonsense at the Nuclear Crossroads, an anti-nuclear group located in Asheville, North Carolina, has commissioned a report on plans for transport and reprocessing (falsely advertised as “burning up”) high-level nuclear waste. The report is available for free viewing and/or downloading.

This is a big and dangerous deal. Quoting from the report’s executive summary:

The DOE has proposed purchasing Transport, Aging and Disposal (TAD) canisters to handle this waste and has issued specifications for their manufacture. From the data tables it is calculated that, on average, each TAD canister will contain about one and a half times the fissile uranium in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, plus about ten times the amount of fissile plutonium in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. The number of these canisters needed to move the waste accumulated at each reactor site is calculated. This indicates the number of loads that would be needed.


This photo, from a government website, should give us a sense of the scale involved for just one TAD cannister.

The report ends:

These questions [about safety and whether the nuclear industry should still be making such quantities of dangerous material] are too important to be left to the politicians or the corporations. They vitally affect each of us, as citizens of the United States, whose life and environment are being placed in jeopardy. It is a call for each of us to think and act.

In between is a lot of frightening and even possibly depressing reading. It is astounding, to those of us who are not willing to risk other’s lives or health, just how much corporate executives are willing, if they can make a buck or a few million in the process. It’s also surprising, even if we sort of expect it, just how much our government regulatory agencies are willing to let them risk. It’s heavy reading, but if we don’t know about it, there’s no chance of stopping it. The effort is worthwhile.

Again, the report is available for free at We applaud the Nuclear Crossroads group for putting it together.

One thought on “More than a TAD”

  1. Thank you for posting the above report.

    Below is an excerpt from a NIRS sponsored report entitled:
    More than a TAD A Study of the Problems With the Transport and Reprocessing of Nuclear Waste in the Carolinas A report prepared for Commonsense at the Nuclear Crossroads Asheville, North Carolina by John C. Sticpewich April 3, 2007 (70 pages)

    Mary Olson worked with John, who she informs me has since passed on. I found this report while looking for transportation routes. Below I have provided an excerpt germane to climate change / green-house gasses. Hopefully this provides you with an additional tool.

    Thank you to John C. Sticpewich for this expose on nuclear power and green house gasses.
    Michael J. Keegan
    Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes

    Excerpt pp 9 &10

    … Another fiction in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership aims statement is that nuclear power generation is environmentally friendly. It states that nuclear power generation does not create green-house gasses. Compared to carbon-based fuel plants, for the actual generating phase of the process this is partly true. Uranium is a finite resource in the earth. Although not of organic origin it has the same limitations as the “fossil” fuels have, and the same economic constraints. What the proponents of nuclear power generation as a clean energy source fail to consider, is the fossil fuel expended in mining, processing, enriching, transporting and disposing of the uranium and its waste products. By visiting the web-site the reader will have access to a report by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith. This report shows that, except for the richest sources of ore, the whole process of uranium preparation and disposal ends up as an energy negative. That is to say more energy is used in processing the fuel before and after its use than is generated in the nuclear plant. That claim alone must give us pause, but that is not the only environmental impact that should be considered. Almost all carbon based fuel and nuclear electricity generating plants use steam turbines to turn the generators. This is the process of boiling water to make high pressure steam with which to turn the turbines. After the steam has passed through the turbine, it is condensed back to water that is recycled and heated to make steam again. It is an unfortunate physical fact that it takes about seven times the amount of heat to turn boiling water to steam as it does to raise that water from ambient temperature to boiling point. The steam is still at the same temperature but has changed its state from a liquid to a vapor. This is called the latent heat of vaporization. When the steam is turned back to water, that heat is released again in the condenser unit. Part of this heat is captured in heat exchanges but much is lost into the environment. This is the reason why steam turbine generating plants need large cooling pools and cooling towers. No matter what the fuel used, these plants continually push large amounts of heat into our environment. In the case of nuclear plants the problem is even greater. The reactor core itself needs to be continually cooled to prevent the nuclear reaction getting out of control and causing a meltdown as happened at the Three Mile Island Plant and Chernobyl. This further increases the amount of heat that must be dissipated into the environment. For this reason nuclear generating plants must have huge lakes for their cooling water or the gigantic cooling towers with which they cannonade our environment with their excess heat. Unlike the carbon based fuel plants the nuclear plants do not stop generating heat when the fuel supply is turned off. The spent nuclear fuel assemblies are so hot when removed from the reactor that they must be kept in a tank of water and cooled for the next five years. After that time the reaction has slowed enough to allow the heat generated to be conducted away by air convection, but it will take many more years before they have cooled to the ambient temperature. So the nuclear plant itself does not generate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, but it does generate much more heat than the carbon based fuel plant and, as an added bonus, presents us with tons of high-level radioactive waste that we must dispose of. If you look at the emission from a steam turbine plant on a cool morning you are probably going to see a white plume of condensing water vapor. This quickly vanishes in the morning air and is then forgotten. Carbon dioxide is not the only factor in our atmosphere that contributes to global warming. It is certainly the most talked about but, as a green-house gas that contributes to global warming it runs a poor second to water vapor. The entry under green-house gases in the webbased Wikipedia encyclopedia ( shows that water vapor is considered to contribute 36% to 70% of the green-house gas warming. The amount in the atmosphere varies considerably from dry areas like the Sahara desert to very humid areas like tropical rainforests, tropical seas and cooling ponds. Carbon dioxide is considered to contribute only 9% to 26% of the green-house gas effect so, despite its being much talked about, the upper limit of the effect of carbon dioxide does not reach the lower limit of the effect of water vapor. It is difficult to see how a nuclear plant, that continually pushes water vapor into the troposphere, is more environmentally friendly and “clean.” Perhaps we should look at the direct contribution these plants make to global warming with the heat they dump directly into our environment, and the water vapor pumped out from cooling towers and ponds. If we dumped less heat into the environment we might have to worry less about how much its radiation out into space is reduced by the blanket of green-house gasses. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report ( denigrated the role of water vapor as a greenhouse gas because it cannot be controlled by humans. Here, surely, is a case where both heat input and some water vapor input can be controlled by changing to renewable power sources. When we look at the fast neutron reactors, now called Advanced Burner Reactors, the heating problem is worse. The aim of these devices is to change the long half-life radioactive waste products to others with a shorter radioactive half-life. Again we are faced with an unfortunate basic truth in physics that a shorter half-life relates to a higher level of radioactivity. We have to face the trade-off of less time for the waste product to decay with a higher and more dangerous level of radioactivity. This dilemma is not addressed in the GNEP statements. On the global warming front the problem is even more egregious. The core of an Advanced Burner Reactor has to be cooled with a liquid metal. In the past liquid sodium has been used and in some cases liquid lead. Sodium reacts violently with water, generating sodium hydroxide and hydrogen. This may be part of the explanation why only three of the previously built twenty reactors of this type are still operating today. The toxicity of lead, particularly the fumes given off when it is melted, is well known and does not need to be dwelt on here. So, looking at the whole picture, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership proposals present some very serious environmental problems. But we must assume that the present technical difficulties of effective reprocessing and safe fast breeder reactors can, in time, be overcome. This leaves the question of what will be involved in the collection and transport of the nuclear waste for reprocessing. ///

    Back on the Fermi 3 COLA Intervention we brought forth the argument of Vapor as green house gas the ASLB would have nothing to do with it.

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