[ RadSafe ] Subduction Zones and Nuclear Waste

Jerry Cohen jjc105 at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 22 15:16:12 CDT 2010

    You are right on! Why do we continue to pursue  the dumb idea of 
geologic disposal of nuclear waste? Because, as Willie Sutton put it--Thats 
where the money is! Many billions of dollars have already been squandered on the 
concept of geologic disposal--and the scam will likely continue until whenever 
the money runs out. Nobody want the kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
    Oceanic disposal would simply be too inexpensive, safe,and easy for anybody 
to exploit.

Jerry Cohen

From: George Stanford <gstanford at aya.yale.edu>
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List 
<radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Sent: Thu, October 21, 2010 11:35:04 PM
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Subduction Zones and Nuclear Waste


    Here are some thoughts for your consideration.

    If the "nuclear waste" consists of used fuel
from thermal reactors, deep-sea disposal is indeed
a bad idea -- not because of the radioactivity,
but because only 5% of the fuel's energy (or much
less, in the case of HWRs) has been used, and it
would be expensive to try to retrieve it.  Much
better to put it in retrievable storage in Yucca
Mountain, so that its uranium and fissile material
(plutonium) will be available for when fast
reactors are to be started up (eventually doing
away with uranium mining for centuries, and with
milling, and enrichment of uranium forever).

    But it's a different kettle of fish if the
waste consists largely of unwanted fission
products (many of which have commercial value).
I'm not qualified to say whether you're right or
wrong about the subduction angle, but I'll point
out that it doesn't matter – for two reasons.
First, the waste, packaged in suitable containers,
can be dropped where it will bury itself in the
silt, where it will sit undisturbed for many
millennia, constituting less of an insult to the
biosphere than just about any other human activity
you care to name.

    Suppose, however, the waste were to start to
dissolve in the sea water almost immediately
(which it wouldn't).  Remember that the oceans are
already appreciably radioactive (K-40, mainly).
If you do the calculation, you find that, with
reasonable dispersal of the waste canisters, the
increment to the oceans' radioactivity would be
utterly inconsequential.

    Why is this not taken seriously?  Because
it's so cheap that there's no money to be made
from it, so there's no lobby for it.  The
opposition comes from an unholy alliance of
uninformed environmentalists and interests that
want to be paid for researching and developing
various expensive methods of land disposal.

    -- George Stanford
        Reactor physicist, retired.


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