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Exelon Corporation (EXC), Duke Energy Corp (DUK): How Much Nuclear Waste Does Your State Hold?

Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) feeds the nuclear-heavy grids of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Not surprisingly, it ranks second in the nation with 11,350 MW of nuclear capacity. Rounding out the top three is

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) with 8,280 MW of annual capacity. The company maintains three facilities in Georgia and Alabama, although it doesn’t necessarily contribute the most spent fuel in either state. Either way, the figures in the preceding table make plenty of sense when you look at where the largest atomic powerhouses produce their power.

Is it really all bad news?
The good news that gets relatively little attention is that each power generator pays into the national Nuclear Waste Fund with every fuel purchase. If every nuclear power plant were decommissioned tomorrow, the industry would need approximately $31.9 billion. Luckily, more than $22.5 billion has already been funded — the remainder will be collected over the next 20 years.

That still doesn’t solve the problem of the waste itself. Just as the industry transitioned from pool to dry cask storage out of necessity, I believe it will eventually make the leap to full fuel recycling technology. Partners Hitachi, Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:HTHIY) and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) have pioneered the PRISM reactor — a generation 4 reactor (all reactors in use today are generation 3 or lower) — which is powered by spent nuclear fuel. Perhaps the pair will receive funding directly from the Nuclear Waste Fund for their technology in the next decade or two.

Still skeptical? Before you build a bunker in your backyard, stop and take a deep breath. You shouldn’t feel any differently now than you did before you opened this article. There is certainly a UNF storage problem forming on the horizon, but to date there have been zero leaks concerning energy-related waste with current technology. Admittedly, only novel reactor designs, such as PRISM, can truly make a dent in the pile of nuclear waste your state is hoarding. I’m optimistic that it is only a matter of time before one is built. Are you?

The article How Much Nuclear Waste Does Your State Hold? originally appeared on Fool.com is written by Maxx Chatsko.

Fool contributor Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check out his personal portfolio or his CAPS page, or follow him on Twitter, @BlacknGoldFool to keep up with his writing on energy, bioprocessing, and biotechnology.The Motley Fool recommends Exelon and Southern. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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