Nuclear Waste Disposal and Issues of Health and Safety
November 22, 1996
Return to the Splitting the Atom top page.
Return to the nuclear waste forum top page.
Topics covered in this forum:
- Will taxpayers or utility customers pay for nuclear waste cleanup?
- What is the best way to handle nuclear waste, at nuclear plants or at a central location?
- How can nuclear waste be transported safely?
- What is the status of the Rocky Flats Arsenal cleanup?
- Why can't nuclear waste be mixed with the ground it came from?
- How long before we have the techonology for a permanent solution to nuclear waste?
- Is Yucca Mountain the solution for America's nuclear waste?
- Is the nuclear industry more responsive to criticism than before?
- Viewer comments on nuclear waste
J. R. Wargo of Strasburg, VA, asks
How long before the technology for permanent disposal of high level waste is established, and how much longer after that before it is put in place?
Tom Carpenter of the Government Accountability Project replies:
No one knows for sure. Right now, the Hanford Site in Southeastern Washington is planning to vitrify, or melt into glass, high-level waste products at the Hanford Site. But those are just plans, and we don't know if they will be successful. The problem with your question is the word "permanent." Every available and feasible techology must address the nagging question of how to isolate these wastes for millions of years - - or longer than the human race has been in existence.
Jim Werner of the Department of Energy replies:
The United States is currently evaluating the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada to assess its capability to support a repository. Although the engineered technologies that will be used are important, the critical issues at that site involves the projected behavior of the geologic setting over thousands of years after the waste is emplaced. The Department of Energy will complete a description of the potential repository and the technologies that will be used in 1998. The independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have to license the project before it can be constructed. If the project proves to be capable of meeting the safety standards, waste could begin to be emplaced in the year 2010.