Our local anti-nuclear resident recently wrote that the ELEA/Holtec Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) ‘could’ sabotage the G&O industry here in New Mexico. Well, after chatting with a few of my oil buddies there was no ‘fear’ create by that article. In fact, quite the opposite occurred when I explained how G&O would benefit from the presence of the SNF storage in New Mexico. Holtec has already patented a heat exchanger that can capture the 190C (that’s 374F degrees) decay heat generated from the canisters in storage for the purpose of large industrial water purification. And everyone in New Mexico realizes how valuable clean potable water is, especially during our drought years.
So will the ELEA/Holtec CISF project really sabotage the G&O Industry? NO. Actually, the ELEA/Holtec project will complement the G&O industry greatly, especially with a very cheap and practical way to distill New Mexico’s natural saline water into potable water needed in the drilling and fracking processes. After the fracking process, G&O has a lot of ‘dirty’ water that needs to be recycled and reused at the next well head. Water and energy are both a major cost item, so when both can be produced cheaply and locally, that is an attraction that G&O could never pass up. Holtec International and Elysium Industries have confirmed that 190C is more than enough heat to distill potable water and produce electricity at the same time from the same heat source.
I have already written an article about my opinion of calling the ELEA/Holtec project ‘interim’ storage because storing a nuclear fuel with an energy density to supply all the fuel needed for generating electricity over the next 400 years in just the US, is not interim. If every one of our current water cooled nuclear reactors were replaced with an advance fast spectrum molten salt reactor (all 99) this stored nuclear fuel along with the deleted uranium stored at URENCO could last 4,000 years with each individual reactor producing 30% more electricity than today’s fleet. So, the conclusion for me is that ELEA/Holtec project is not just about storing SNF but about a whole new industry of industrial heat for clean water, clean electricity, medical isotopes and of course nuclear fuel for the next centuries.
The one major benefit that I have not touched on yet is the billions of dollars to the State of New Mexico. Of course, there will be storage fees for the SNF but there will also be hundreds of very well paying jobs from construction to operation and everything in between and secondary businesses that always pop up around every major industry. The primary taxes like corporate taxes, income taxes, gross receipt taxes alone will increase the state revenue source so that schools, roads and other social needs can be addressed instead of always waiting for the next year’s state budget. I think everyone could appreciate that.
So where is the sabotage? Our local anti-nuke activist has really not explained how the ELEA/Holtec project will sabotage the oil industry other than to say – radiation is harmful. Well, as I have written in previous articles I will remind everyone again that life requires radiation and without it, all life dies. There is a threshold of acute radiation that can kill and after 3 nuclear power plant meltdowns and 2 atom bombs studied over the last 60 year (the beginning of the commercial nuclear age), a ‘safe level’ has now been determine to be a very conservative 350 mrem annual dose by the World Health Organization.
The NRC.com web site has a personal radiation calculator that you can determine what your body absorbs annually based on your life style. We are all different and I am getting an annual dose of ~377.078 mrem, mostly because of medical diagnostic procedures. I am also getting ~ 0.0009 mrem from WIPP which is considered part of background radiation dose (240 mrem US average) for this part of New Mexico. If you live in Santa Fe or Denver, add another 50 mrem per year because of elevation. And for the jet setters, you’ll probably max out wherever you live.
Every industry has a risk factor of something going wrong. Just recently, Tri-Chem Industries in Texas had the most unusual (freaky) fire/explosion accident that killed one, injured two and released tons of toxins into the atmosphere. Tri-Chen provides chemicals for the G&O industry. A few years back, a fertilizer plant exploded in West Texas where 15 people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings damaged or destroyed. Basically, part of town was wiped off the map. West Fertilizer Company had supplied chemicals to farmers since it was founded in 1962. The commercial nuclear industry, both power plants and waste management facilities, have had zero deaths caused by radiation exposure because it is so heavily regulated for safety.
Maybe other industries should take heed and be as responsible for their operations and waste too.