Brief Longterm Hazards Of Radiowaste Storage In Saltbed Excavations

can be pumped out. But even if nothing was done, Cohen's calculations show that possible hazards to man are miniscule.

Concern has also been expressed about the possibility that terrorists might try to acquire radioactive material for use in a so-called 'dirty' but non-nuclear bomb. Any terrorist gang who would want to break into a radiowaste repository to steal canisters of radioactive waste for some evil purpose would have to bring a truck, winch, and special engagement equipment to retrieve any. Even if a gang was able to subdue the repository guards by guns or in a gunfight, they would mostly expose themselves to radiation and could do little harm to anyone else, should they succeed with such a heist. Damage from the explosion of a 'dirty' bomb comprises mostly mechanical blast effects. Radioactive materials are easily detected and a dirty bomb blast area is readily decontaminated with so-called 'rad-waste' solvents. Anyone not killed by the bomb's concussion but covered with radiodust can and should take a quick bath, shower, or swim to wash off radioactive particles. Any gamma radiation exposure from radioactive dust is evanescent and does not stick. If the terrorist's goals are to poison people, there are many poisonous chemicals available that would be more effective than radiowaste. In short, stealing radiowaste canisters is as pointless as recovering an old WW-II army tank from the bottom of the ocean for use in an armed robbery.

The end of the uranium fuel cycle has been solidly explored and engineered for several decades. After lenghty studies of possible sites (earthquake faults, water tables, etc), the US DOE (Department of Energy) selected, designed, and built a billion-dollar repository for the storage of high-level nuclear waste in the Nevada desert at Yucca mountain. The only problem with getting DOE's Yucca mountain repository into service has been the unreasonable opposition by anti-nuclear activists who keep court litigations going by interjecting trumped-up transportation safety concerns and other delaying tactics. Originally Yucca was to have opened in 2000. Because of the delays, nuclear power plant operators have resorted to temporary storage of fuel elements in swimming pools until Yucca will start to accept and process them. While this practice can be carried out safely from a radioactivity management point-of-view, and is checked out and approved by the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commision), it would appear more prudent to have all reactor radiowaste stored at one well-guarded site instead of at a hundred reactor sites all around the country.

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