Alternative Strategies?A Means for Saving Money and Time on the Yucca Mountain Project

by Dale G. Wilder, Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab, Livermore, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is undertaking studies to determine the suitability of Yucca Mountain (YM) as a potential site for disposal of high-level nuclear waste. Yucca Mountain is located approximately 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas in an arid environment. Many processes that could contribute to mobilization of radionuclides are either absent or minimized in a dry site. Therefore, Yucca Mountain should have the potential of being a very favorable site for disposal of waste. However, the determination of suitability has no precedence, and the characterization of an arid site is complex, requiring intensive studies to determine suitability. The studies undertaken by the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project (YMP) are very costly. Unfortunately many people have concluded that the costs are so excessive that the project should not proceed, but rather should be curtailed. The author feels this is unfortunate for two reasons. First, the solution of what to do with nuclear waste is a clear and urgent national requirement if we are to have a balanced US energy strategy. Second, the excessive cost and lengthy schedule are in part artifacts of the strategy that has been developed for satisfying regulations and providing for isolation of the waste. It is this latter point that will be addressed in this paper.

Subject Headings: Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Project management | Construction costs | Construction wastes | Waste sites | Nuclear power | United States | Las Vegas | Nevada

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