The Ultimate Challenge

by Brian Fortner, Contributing Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1999, Vol. 69, Issue 11, Pg. 56-61

Document Type: Feature article


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has spent $2 billion and more than a decade studying the feasibility of constructing a nuclear waste repository inside Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The facility would be designed to safely entomb 77,000 tons (70,000 Mg) of spent nuclear fuel contained in 12,000 casks designed to last 10,000 years. Scientists and engineers continue to study the site's geologic and hydraulic characteristics so the DOE can make a recommendation to Congress by 2002. If approved, more than 100 miles (160 km) of emplacement tunnels would be bored to depths of more than 1,000 ft (305 m) below the crest of the mountain and 900 ft (274 m) above the water table. The earliest opening date for the facility is 2010.

Subject Headings: Nuclear power | Radioactive wastes | Building design | Fuels | Feasibility studies | Geology | Hydraulics | Tunnels | Nevada | United States

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