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The nuclear waste problem and reconsideration of the ocean disposal option

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1 Author(s)
Wicks, F. ; Union Coll., Schenectady, NY, USA

The continuation of the nuclear power option around the world requires an eventual resolution for nuclear waste disposal. The United States now has about 70,000 tons of high level nuclear waste stored on site of about 100 nuclear power plants around the country. Another 3,000 tons is being produced each year. Over the last forty years many plans have been made but none implemented. The announcement that Yucca Mountain in Nevada will be used has resulted in intense resistance. While the author's proposal to consider the ocean dumping option for nuclear waste may now be publicly and politically unacceptable it may ultimately represent the best of the difficult options. The subsequent analysis shows that the amount of radiation released from all nuclear waste form nuclear weapons and nuclear power reactors is negligible compared to the reactivity from the decay of the natural uranium in the ocean. The historic considerations for nuclear waste disposal have been defined as retrievable or non retrievable. A new issue that may further motivate ocean disposal is its non vulnerability to terrorist attacks. The author also suggests that nuclear waste should be recognized as a global problem as compared to a problem for each nation. Accordingly, it should become the responsibility of an international agency with the goal of determining the best global option and site.

Published in:

Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, 2002. IECEC '02. 2002 37th Intersociety

Date of Conference:

29-31 July 2004