A Salt Solution for Nuclear Wastes

by Corinne S. Bernstein, Asst. News Ed.; Civil Engineering—ASCE, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 2, Pg. 33-35

Document Type: Feature article


The Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southeastern New Mexico is the nation's first full-scale facility for disposing of radioactive waste in bedded salt. During its 25 year life span, the $2 billion repository, known as WIPP, is expected to provide more than 6.3 million cu ft of storage space for transuranic wastes—clothing, ools, and other items contaminated by plutonium and other radioactive elements heavier than uranium. Scientists have considered such salt repositories a natural choice for waste burial for many years. Salt's advantages stem from its ability to creep, slowly closing up excavated areas, encapsulating wastes inside. If all goes as planned, within the next five years the plant will receive transuranic wastes for storage. Defense high level wastes will be shipped to the site for testing only.

Subject Headings: Waste storage | Salts | Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Power plants | Light rail transit | Developing countries | Uranium | New Mexico | United States

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