The really great thing about nuclear power is that, once you’ve created it, you have a highly toxic waste product that is extremely difficult to get rid of. It’s like having a dog but no plastic bags and no garbage bins and you live with it in a closet.

The Great Dane of energy creation. (Photo by Jeremy Farmer.)

While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) feels like its nuclear-poop-removal system is totally adequate for the job, a federal court disagreed, suggesting that the NRC didn’t explain what would happen if it was wrong. Therefore:

The U.S. government said it will stop issuing permits for new nuclear power plants and license extensions for existing facilities until it resolves issues around storing radioactive waste. …

“We are now considering all available options for resolving the waste issue,” the five-member NRC said in a ruling earlier this week. “But, in recognition of our duties under the law, we will not issue [reactor] licenses until the court’s remand is appropriately addressed.”

There are 14 reactors awaiting license renewals at the NRC, and an additional 16 reactors awaiting permits for new construction.

A big part of the problem is that politicians tend to not want massive nuclear waste sites in their districts / states / countries / planets. The proposed Yucca Mountain facility is a textbook example of NIMBY-ism — and not without good reason. No matter how unlikely radiation leakage might be, it’s not a great selling point for real estate. (“Now, a few miles from here is a massive repository of slowing decaying nuclear material. But there are two-and-a-half baths.”)

The permit freeze is only temporary, while the NRC outlines a plan for what to do with nuclear waste while Congress enters its seventh decade of playing “not it” with a permanent dump site.

In the interim, if an official-looking gentleman shows up at your door asking you to dispose of a small, glowing plastic bag — decline politely. And then sic your dog on him.