Nuclear Waste Disposal: Where Are We?

by Birger Schmidt, Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade & Douglas, San Francisco, CA,
Robert H. Janowski, Jr., Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade & Douglas, Houston, TX,
Thomas J. Merson, Los Alamos Natl. Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 7, Pg. 62-65

Document Type: Feature article


The U.S. Department of Energy is conducting preliminary site characterizations for three candidates for nuclear waste disposal. The sites are in three different geologic sites. A Richland, Washington site is in basalt; a bedded salt formation in Deaf Smith County, Texas is the second site; and the third site is in tuff at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The three sites are described as are the three projected exploratory shaft designs and procedures. Congress has reduced current authorizations for work on the project, so shaft work will not proceed until 1988 or 1989. The projected costs for the three sites being looked at are: salt, $9.5 billion; basalt, $12.9 billion; and tuff, $7.5 billion. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, a permanent repository for this waste should be selected by 1991; construction and testing is supposed to be completed by 1998 and the repository should start taking in wastes by 2001. All three sites are in western states. The bill provides but does not authorize funds for a future eastern repository site. One bill in Congress would amend the 1982 law by mandating that all nuclear waste go to the western site selected.

Subject Headings: Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Waste sites | Salts | Shafts | Nuclear power | Geology | Construction costs | United States | Washington | Texas | Nevada

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