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PopSci Poll

  1. Oct 24, 2004 #1
    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2004 #2
    Full Question: The U.S. Generates more than 2,000 tons of Nuclear Waste every year. Should We [U.S.] store it in Nevada's Yucca Moutain.
  4. Oct 24, 2004 #3
    The U.S. Department of Energy began studying Yucca Mountain, Nevada, in 1978 to determine whether it would be suitable for the nation's first long-term geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Currently stored at 131 sites around the nation, these materials are a result of nuclear power generation and national defense programs.

    On July 23, 2002, President Bush signed House Joint Resolution 87, allowing the DOE to take the next step in establishing a safe repository in which to store our nation's nuclear waste. The Department of Energy is currently in the process of preparing an application to obtain the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to proceed with construction of the repository.

    Yucca Mountain is located in a remote desert on federally protected land within the secure boundaries of the Nevada Test Site in Nye County, Nevada. It is approximately 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.

  5. Oct 24, 2004 #4
    Facts about Location:
    View maps Yucca Mountain is located on federal land in a remote area of Nye County in southern Nevada, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.
    Land withdrawal area The proposed Yucca Mountain repository withdrawal area would occupy about 230 square miles (150,000 acres) of federal land that is currently under the control of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force, and the Bureau of Land Management.
    Population: No one lives at Yucca Mountain. The closest year-round housing is about 14 miles south of the site, in the Amargosa Desert.

    Geology: Yucca Mountain is a ridge comprised of layers of volcanic rock, called “tuff.” This rock is made of ash that was deposited by successive eruptions from nearby volcanoes, between 11 and 14 million years ago. These volcanoes have been extinct for millions of years.
    Elevation: At its crest, Yucca mountain reaches an elevation of 4,950 feet.
    View current weather
    conditions Yucca Mountain receives less than 7.5 inches of precipitation on average per year.

    The mean annual temperature is about 63° Fahrenheit.

    Natural Resources There are no known natural resources of commercial value at Yucca Mountain (such as precious metals, minerals, oil, etc.).
  6. Oct 25, 2004 #5
    Just dump it in the ocean.

    I'm kidding if you didn't know. The thing is, I would rather research go into finding a way to make the waste harmful. If we say "Ok, lets dump this here" there might be pretty bad consequences in the future. My friend worked at a plant where waste was stored but leaked and it became a huge project to clean up the area. I'm for it being a temporary storing place though.
  7. Oct 25, 2004 #6
    What are some of the other methods of dealing with Nuclear waste besides burying it in some remote location?
  8. Oct 26, 2004 #7


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    Shoot it into space ?
  9. Oct 26, 2004 #8
    That's the problem with people. know how to use; don't know how to get rid.
  10. Oct 26, 2004 #9


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    Actually - nuclear waste disposal has been a political problem - not a
    technical problem for some time.

    First - it's not like we had a choice of solving the problem or just foregoing
    nuclear power. The production reactors of the Manhattan Project created
    a big chunk of the problem. So we already had the problem courtesy of
    World War II - so there was really no choice but to solve it.

    The solutions to the nuclear waste "problem" have been studied for years.
    It was almost 50 years ago that the National Academy of Sciences made
    the recommendation for "geological disposal" - their term for burial.

    [On a political note, I always have to shake my head in wonderment
    every time John Kerry states that he'll stop the Yucca Mountain Project
    and ask the National Academy of Sciences to study the problem. It's
    really indicative of how little he knows - the National Academy of
    Sciences made the original recommendation nearly 50 years ago.

    The National Academy has reviewed and approved all the research at
    Yucca Mountain. So does John Kerry really expect a different answer
    than the one that's currently being implemented? ]

    The storage of waste at Yucca Mountain has been very thoroughly
    studied and modeled by computer for many years into the future:



    Laboratory scientists made their recommendation 4 years ago:


    In addition to laboratory studies and computer modelling, there's also
    the data from the Oklo and Gabon "natural reactors". The fissile isotope
    Uranium-235 decays faster than Uranium-238. Although U-235 is today
    about 0.7% concentration in natural uranium - many years ago it was
    a larger fraction. When U-235 amounted to about 3-4% of all natural
    uranium [ about the same percentage as the fuel in U.S. power reactors ],
    a few areas naturally had the correct concentrations of uranium and
    water to "go critical" - and operate as nuclear reactors. These natural
    reactors operated for many years - and produced Plutonium and nuclear
    waste just like a modern power reactor.

    In spite of the fact that the nuclear waste from these reactors was not
    encased in any type of barrier to prevent its migration, that waste has
    had millions of years of opportunity to migrate into the environment.
    However - that's not what happened!! The waste basically stayed right
    where it was. So much for the typical scare-tactics of "leaking" waste.

    Whenever someone opposes storing waste at Yucca Mountain - I always
    ask them what their solution is. It's not like we can do anything to
    "magically" make the problem go away. The usual answer I get is one to
    rewrite history ["Dont' generate it to begin with!"] - which I find

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2004
  11. Oct 26, 2004 #10


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    I voted "yes", with the caveat that we should really be recycling it... but like Morbius said, that's a political problem that at this point appears to be unsolvable.
  12. Oct 27, 2004 #11


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    I read about the theory of shooting the waste into the sun via rocket, the relativley low level of failed rocket missions in which the rocket had a violent ending is much much too high for the launching of nuclear waste.
  13. Oct 27, 2004 #12


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    It is much safer to leave all that waste at thousands of low [er, non-existent] security civilian sites spread all across the country.
  14. Oct 27, 2004 #13


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    Put it all onto ships and send it to the UK for reprocessing. Oh no wait, that's what the US do already....

  15. Oct 29, 2004 #14
    I still say shoot into space. heck, Columbia had radioactive matirial in already anyway.

    Is there any way to get at least some pwr. from it. If there is we could pwr. a mission out of the solar system with it.
  16. Oct 30, 2004 #15
  17. Oct 30, 2004 #16
    Here is the lead in to that story regarding fast groundwater under Yucca Mountain.

    In September, 1997, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories reported that plutonium from an underground nuclear weapons test at Pahute Mesa on the Nevada Test Site had migrated almost a mile from the where the test took place. This finding contradicts DOE predictions about how fast plutonium can move through the underground rock. Until now, DOE and its scientists had contended that plutonium movement would be very slow - several inches or feet over hundreds of years. The discovery that plutonium has moved almost a mile in less than 30 years has major implications for DOE's plans to isolate spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, since such wastes contain nearly 1,000 tons of plutonium that remains extremely dangerous for tens of thousands of years.
  18. Nov 1, 2004 #17


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    I'm sorry but this is just another of a long series of the media's
    misquoting and distorting the words and conclusions of the scientist's

    In regard to the nuclear test that your speak of - there was a fault line
    that went undetected when the test was prepared. The nuclear explosion
    opened up the fault line and provided a path for the plutonium to migrate.

    Yucca Mountain will NOT be subject to a nuclear explosion that will
    open the fault line. Additionally, the waste at Yucca mountain does NOT
    rely on the soil to contain the waste - the waste is encapsulated in a
    matrix of borosilicate glass protected by a steel container.

    You also have to not accept the pablum that the anti-nukes have been
    foistering that nuclear waste is highly dangerous for tens of thousands
    of years. That's a distortion. It would taked tens of thousands of years
    or even longer for every last atom of radioactive material to decay.

    However, that should not be the standard. The original uranium mined
    from the ground was also radioactive - but we don't worry about that
    because the level of radioactivity is so low. A better metric would be -
    "How long will the waste be more radioactive than the uranium that was
    originally dug from the ground?" You will find that the answer to that
    question is a small fraction of the time that the anti-nukes like to quote.

    The level of radioactivity is chiefly characterized by the decay of
    Cesium-137; which has a half-life of 30 years. THAT'S the decay rate
    that one should be using - not the ridiculous claims of the anti-nukes.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Lawrence Livermore
    National Laboratory
  19. Nov 1, 2004 #18
    Reasons for geological isolation of glass waste packages

    Then why store it inside a mountain?
  20. Nov 1, 2004 #19


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    You really don't have to.

    Yucca Mountain doesn't rely on the mountain soil for containment - it
    has the engineered barriers of borosilicate glass and steel.

    However, it doesn't hurt to have the mountain there just for good measure.

    Things are done like that in the nuclear industry [ and airline industry...]
    all the time. Something is put there for "good measure" - but that doesn't
    mean that it's "needed".
  21. Nov 3, 2004 #20
    My opinion is that we could send it on space shuttles to the sun. I know it may sound farfetched but right now it is 100% possible. The only problem is that US space missions fail like 1/100 flights. One single failure will spread nuclear waste all over the US.
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