E2 Round-up: Chu floats nuke waste idea, next wave reactors, and Asian carp.

Chu told reporters Saturday that he doesn’t want to pre-judge the panel’s work. But Chu noted that he – and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – believes the current practice of dry cask storage of spent fuel at the reactor sites is safe for decades.

So . . . perhaps the government could own the waste at the plants while the ultimate disposal strategy is worked out. “It is possible to do that and keep it at present sites, pay the utility companies to keep it safeguarded, keep it safe, while we work through this process,” Chu said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

“That is a ‘for instance.’ I am not saying this is what we are going to do. I don’t want to pre-judge what the blue ribbon commission is going to come up with,” he added, calling it “one of several possibilities.”

Scientific American, meanwhile, has published a story that looks at some ideas prompted by the waste dilemma.

“Such struggles to find a permanent resting place for nuclear waste has prompted some to resurrect an idea that stretches back to the Manhattan Project: so-called fast-neutron reactors that can consume nuclear waste through fission. Whether it is billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates touting a new design for a traveling-wave reactor or the South Korean government promoting spent fuel reprocessing and fast breeder reactors, observers and governments seem to think it is time to reconsider fast reactors – despite the fact that the designs have a mixed track record,” their piece notes.

The NGA event – where Chu chatted about renewable energy and transmission with governors – also included rollout of EPA’s Great Lakes protection strategy.

It will focus on “eliminating invasive species, cleaning up pollutants, and remediating more than a half million acres of the area's wetlands,” notes Reuters.

“Several governors from Great Lakes states say the plan will boost their environmental quality -- and help energize a multibillion-dollar regional economy reliant on shipping, fishing and tourism,” notes the Los Angeles Times. The five-year, $2.2 billion plan pledges a “zero tolerance” policy towards invasive species including the Asian carp.

The big, voraciously hungry carp are migrating northward in the U.S., prompting fears they will devastate the multi-billion dollar Great Lakes fishing industry.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to “examine the science and policy behind the Federal framework and non-Federal efforts to prevent introduction of the aquatic invasive Asian carp into the Great Lakes.”