Nuclear Waste Disposal: Is there a safe solution?

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1979, Vol. 49, Issue 5, Pg. 72-79

Document Type: Feature article


Will fission nuclear power play a major role in the American power industry during the next 50 years? Whether or not it does will largely depend on whether the federal Department of Energy can come up with a solution to disposing of highly radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants. Several states have passed laws banning the construction of new nuclear power plants — until the DOE has convincingly demonstrated a solution to the ultimate waste disposal problem. Presently, DOE has underway extensive geologic investigations to locate possible sites for deep, underground nuclear-waste repositories. These repositories would be in salt, granite, basalt, shale or some other media where there is an absence of groundwater. The most likely solution is to convert high-level radioactive liquid wastes to a solid, encapsulate that powder in a glass, which in turn would be poured into a metal canister. These canisters would then be buried in an underground salt mine. The question is whether (and when) DOE has the political muscle to implement a solution.

Subject Headings: Nuclear power | Power plants | Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Nuclear safety | Site investigation | Salts | Industries

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