The High Cost of an Enormous Nuclear Arsenal

The United States has spent somewhere in the realm of $5.5 trillion creating its enormous nuclear arsenal, but even as they look to God-only-knows-how-much more on modernizing their warheads, a much less recognized expense, what to do with the enormous stockpile of waste from their construction looms large. Fear not, the Department of Energy has a plan to cut corners here.

Of course there’s plenty of opposition, but essentially, the plan is to hollow out a mountain near Las Vegas, and chuck all the material in there. If that sounds dangerous, don’t worry: in another hundred years the Energy Department will send an army of yet-to-be-invented robots into the facility to install some likewise yet-to-be-invented titanium shields to protect the waste from the water and the water from the waste. Win-win, at least in a hundred years.

Nevada’s Nuclear Projects Agency director Bob Loux doubts it’ll ever happen. The titanium would already cost $8-$10 billion in today’s prices, who knows what it will cost in a century. Project director Rod McCullum thinks its reasonable though, reminding us that “everything’s made out of titanium these days.”

  • Andy

    The USA should be reducing the size of its nuclear arsenal.

    • DJ

      OK! But the United States should also deep six Jimmy Carter’s edict and reprocess ‘spent’ fuel into mixed oxides (MOX)…then re-reprocess it as it’s used up until around 95% depleted…then store this relatively tiny amount in Yucca Mountain…or wherever. The Europeans have been doing this from the start. Out of unwarranted fear of increased nuclear proliferation, Carter—a so-called nuclear engineer—decreed that after 5% depletion it’s off to the waste dump. And our 500-plus nuclear physicists within the legislative branch have endorsed this idiotic policy ever since…or have been too frightened to challenge it. This is the reason why nuclear waste is at litterlike proportions in the US and will fill Yucca Mountain to capacity quicker than you can say it…not to mention the billions upon billions wasted extracting, refining and enriching new fuel. The sheer stupidy is breathtaking. Go to the below site if interested.

      http://www.truthaboutenergy.com/Fuel%20Cycle.htm

      DJ

    • rekabaduts

      Chuck and cover?

  • Usama Bin Goldstein

    “The United States has spent somewhere in the realm of $5.5 trillion creating its enormous nuclear arsenal, but even as they look to God-only-knows-how-much more on modernizing their warheads, a much less recognized expense, what to do with the enormous stockpile of waste from their construction looms large. Fear not, the Department of Energy has a plan to cut corners here.

    Of course there’s plenty of opposition, but essentially, the plan is to hollow out a mountain near Las Vegas, and chuck all the material in there.”

    Heh. Why do I get the feeling there might be a “The Hills Have Eyes” scenario in the not too distant future if this plan goes through?

    http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thehillshaveeyes/

  • Ira Epstein

    Stop your crying about what will happen to the nuclear garbage created by the construction of nuclear weapons one hundred years from now! Don’t you know having the biggest and baddest nuclear arsenal in the world is part and parcel of having the biggest and baddest military in the world. How on earth do you expect the United States government to rid the world of evil doers by bombing Afghan wedding parties and outsourcing the torture of innocent Canadians if it does not have the biggest and baddest military in the world!

  • jp straley

    Thorium-based nuclear power plants could destroy very nearly all this waste, recovering the energy. Development needed, but from what I’ve read it is engineering work that is needed, not new science.

  • Tim R.

    We need to rid this world of nuclear weapons but that is going to take a very long time. The United States and Russia have, by far, the largest stockpiles, and both our nations need to work togetther to substantially reduce those stockpiles.

    But the other thing the civilized world needs to do is to make sure that other nations, espeically nations that are controlled by Islamic lunatics and call for the destruction of other nations, do NOT get their hands on nuclear weapons.

  • Jim

    Lies really go a long way. How else do you think that nonsense such as “the Iranians are bent on destroying Israel” gets some credibility? Ok, ok, I accept that there are foolish and gullible people who believe the whole propaganda thing and who don’t have a grain of common sense to wonder what is behind their government’s lies. And they had the gall to say that the Communists were brainwashed! Americans have their own propaganda channels. If the USSR had Pravda and Izvestia, the US has Fox, CNN and the whole western media. If the ex-Soviet Union had gulags, the US has Guantanamo and other rendition sites around the globe. Is it too much to ask you, enlightened American public, to cogitate critically? Do you really think the Iranian leadership, for example, wants to commit mass suicide by attacking Israel? It is true that there are nations controlled by lunatics, and we all know them because they don’t call for the destruction of other nations. They DO destroy other nations. Moreover, they have nuclear weapons, and they have used them. What is worse is that the public in these nations believe in the lies being churned out. At least the Soviet people knew their government lied to them, so they were cynical about the system. I guess that’s why it fell so easily. In the case of the US, the cracks are becoming too evident lately. I wonder.

  • simon

    Weapons proliferation and nuclear energy are inextricably linked – regardless of the style of reactor.

    The only way to remove proliferation risk is to remove nuclear power generation.

  • Brad Smith

    Without nukes the US and Russia may very well have gone at it over the Georgia mess. I do believe we could reduce our stockpiles by large amounts, recylce the bombs for fuel and use it to generate electicity. Bring all our troops home, stop medling with everyone and keep around enough nukes to let people know we still cannot be attacked.

    DJ is right that it’s rediculous to waste the waste. It can be recycled and the waste gets smaller and smaller. People need to take a look at the science behind it. Take a look at what Japan is doing for an example. and yes you can recylce without it becoming weapons grade.

    I see nothing wrong with having enough nukes to let the world know we can’t be messed with. We could vastly reduce our standing army with simple policy changes. Leave the rest of the world alone and have free trade that is non political in nature. It’s none of our busniness what anyone else in the world does as long as they leave us alone (and they will if we stop F&cking with them). Nuclear weapons work great as a deterant but tactically are not worth much in terms of an offensive weapon in the hands of an invading army when the defense has them too. The empire is bankrupt it’s time to get back to the republic before it’s too late!

    Peace!

    • Vassili

      Well – I believe that stockpiles are at a dangerously LOW level, if accidents like Gergia can happen. I was glad to read that over the next 5 years 70 new next generation ICBMs are to be deployed in Russia, with funding allocated ahead of any other needs.

      The trend to nuclear arms reduction and US ABM system construction, set during late 90s would have resulted in a nuclear assault on Russia around year 2012. These plans are now less likely to be executed.

      On the other hand – country that has huge nuclear capability, and does NOT have huge army messing all over the world, would be much less concerned about, say, Iran or Korea getting few nuclear devices. Keeping in mind, that India and Pakistan have hundreds by now.

      Thirdly, one very important aspect of Russia’s nuclear deterrent strategy should be definite aiming of 50 charges at Israel – well, just to COOL some heads, working on nuclear arms reduction, ABM systems and plans to attack Russia when timing is appropriate.

      If US has to go, then only with Israel, please :-)

      • Brad Smith

        If I lived in Russia I wouldn’t want to reduce arms either. Not with the warhawks we have in power here. In fact even living here I am glad that Russia is arming itself again. A strong Russia is a good counterweight to the US Empire. In fact the deterant that Russia privides may well be the only thing stopping the US Empire from trying to take over the world. In fact I think it’s past time that nations like Russia and China don’t come together and tell the US to back the F off or else.

        Peace!

  • Claus-Erik Hamle

    According to the former Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge-www.plrc.org-the Pentagon´s strategy for Nuclear War is a co-ordinated First-Strike attack on Russian and Chinese submarines and missile silos, command centres, air fields, etc. See the article by Keir Lieber and Daryl Prss, “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy”, in the 2006 March/April issue of Foreign Affairs.

    • Vassili

      Yes, and Russia’s strategy is counter strike on civilian targets in the US – requires much less aiming. And judging by 9/11 and New Orleans experiences, that can very well result in the collapse of the US w/o any need for military intervention.

      Now, Russian people are used to very harsh treatment… nuclear war is as bad as it gets, but, people would be VERY angry and ready to fight the gurialla war, not to mention the general lack of infrastructure that Western people are used to.

      And Chinesse have demonstrated that they are ready to take out all US satellite infrastructure when needed.

      Now, having to fight against both Russia and China (united inevitably) is such a foolishness, it’s on par with Hitler’s war against both UK/US and Russia at the same time. And political and geo-political differences between Russia and China now are considerably less, compared to that situation.

      Now, I’m very unexcited about such a development. Can humanity treat Russia better for ONCE?

      • DJ

        “Can humanity treat Russia better for ONCE?”

        Not with that bunch of arrogant and really, really dumb sh*theads we have in DC, along with far too many of their useful idiots out here in the hinterlands.