I think we are being taught a lesson by the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown, following the awesome earthquake, there. Forty years ago, when I was peripherally involved in the nuclear power industry, planning for nuclear power plants was supposed to involve a bunch of 'fail-safe' systems with back-up systems. Unfortunately, not much thought was given to the fuel storage pools, since those were expected to 'go away', once the problem of high-level waste was solved. Apparently, there were some corners cut in Japan, since there has been no mention of the typical back-up diesel generator or gas turbine for emergency power. Also, the earthquake planning is supposed to allow for the largest expected magnitude. Since the last magnitude 9.0 quake was also in Japan, over 100 years ago, the statistical likelyhood for another is higher there than in other earthquake zones. One wonders if costs were a factor in planning for lesser magnitudes.
All the poor assumptions above, plus the assumption that nuclear plants would have the same useful life as fossil fueled plants (~50 years), has been used in the calculations of ROI for nuclear plants. I don't know what the expectation is, currently, since we should know more about how nuclear plants age and how useful life of new technologies should not be assumed to be the same as 'tried and true' technologies. As an example, this would be like saying that steam turbines, when they were first developed, would have the same life as steam engines. After many explosions and loss of turbine blades, as well as loss of life, we can now say that turbines are reliable. It took about 40 years to get to that point, however. How many such tragedies will be needed to recognize that the nuclear plants built 40+ years ago should be retired and replaced by newer, more advanced, systems? Also, how much more do we need a 'nuclear repository' specifically designed for spent fuel storage? The real question is: How much government money should be involved? I believe that the U.S. government owes the nuclear industry the help for spent fuel storage, since the whole industry was first created by the government, partly for plutonium generation for fuel reprocessing, during the nuclear arms race. Does America have the will to do the right thing, before we see similar disasters in this country?