[ RadSafe ] Subduction Zones and Nuclear Waste

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Mon Oct 25 13:39:05 CDT 2010

I believe I am the person who originally brought up the idea.  I meant
it to be mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it is in fact quite workable.  

I agree with those who do not believe that disposing of SNF in a way
that cannot be retrieved is a good idea.  My preferred alternative is
eventual reprocessing (after the fuel has cooled down enough that it is
easy to handle), with regional interim storage sites.  My very favorite
site is around the gold repository at Fort Knox.  

I live in confidence that wastes that we really, REALLY will never want
again can be solidified/encapsulated in such a way as to keep it from
leaking, even at great ocean depths.  I also am completely confident
that a delivery system can be designed that will deeply embed the waste
in the part of the zone that will eventually be subducted (I would LOVE
to be on the research/design team!)

I do not, however, have any plans for quitting my job to advocate for
either of these concepts.  They are good ideas, but I have learned that,
around here, we don't go and do something simply because it is a good

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of
JPreisig at aol.com
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2010 5:43 PM
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Subduction Zones and Nuclear Waste

Howdy Radsafe:
     This is from:  _jpreisig at aol.com_ (mailto:jpreisig at aol.com) 
     One poster to radsafe or more keeps suggesting we  put nuclear
into subduction zones for 
disposal (in the ocean) and the subduction/convection cycle will carry
nuclear waste down into 
the Earth and keep it there.  I doubt that this would work.  The
areas at the entrance ways to 
subduction zones are usually covered by layers of sediment (accretionary

wedges???) which would 
keep the waste from being subducted.  The nuclear waste would just sit  
there on top of the sediment layers
without ever moving downward.  Duh...
     Let's keep the nuclear waste up here on the  surface of the Earth, 
with no need to put nuclear waste in
the ocean.  Nuclear waste in the ocean was an idea for the 1950's ---
very viable today.
I don't mind opening up Yucca Mountain at all.  So what will happen in
November 2010 election---
eh, boys and girls.  If that republican woman upsets Reid in Nevada,
the Nuclear Waste trucks be
headed to Yucca Mountain???
     Tell me it ain't so, Dr. Stabin,... HP types  sitting for the HP
exam and not knowing the difference
between Roentgens, rads and rems???  Isn't this material covered in  
many/most first health physics
courses???  HP's who don't know about plateau curves for gas filled  
detectors???  Boy, long ago,
I remember running a rad spectrum using a SCA (Single Channel Analyzer)
 not a MCA (Multi-Channel
Analyzer).  Talk about tedious.  This story reminds  me about my Dad 
telling me about having Dr. Geiger
as a lecturer for lab demonstrations in Germany.  Still don't know if
story is true.  I'm told Geiger
was highly animated in his lab lectures and they were very well
     An interesting older book on radioisotope  methodology is by Chase
     Nuclear waste is Cs/Sr and things like that,  longer-lived low
(alpha) components and perhaps
some mobile (in groundwater) radionuclides (Tritium, C-14, Tc-99, I-129,

etc.).  I guess the French have
limited other energy resources, and need to reprocess their nuclear
 The USA has other energy
options, doesn't reprocess much Nuclear Power plant waste, leaving it at

the power generation sites.
The USA spends money for storage, but doesn't waste money on
right now, get it???
     Global warming, oh my.  Perhaps the guy at  Penn State and the
at East Anglia were early
bearers of the the  global warming message.  If there was  scientific 
wrong-doing, then they should be
treated accordingly.  But this is important stuff!!!!  The  work/results

should be revisited, re-analyzed by
more serious, more credible, better funded scientists.   The  hockey
(dog leg????) in the
global warming data appears real to me, although my atmospheric training
 rather lacking.
     Another curve of interest that can be garnered  from the Internet
that of world population versus time
for the last 100 years or so.  Those data have somewhat of a  hockey
(dog leg?) shape also, with 
the change in the data slope taking place in about 1945 or thereabouts  
(the start of the baby boom???).
One can imagine a 20 year lag/lead time between a person's birth and the

time they enter the adult
(and perhaps industrial) workplace.  Compare the two curves.  I  don't
to support global
warming all that much, because I know so very little about it.
     Funny, in about 1991, folks at Goddard Space  Flight Center (NASA
were making Global
Circulation (Atmospheric) Model runs on an IBM 3090 Mainframe  computer,

which might have been called
a supercomputer by some.  I also used that computer for geophysics  
calculational spectrum estimation,
and that computer's memory was stretched to the limit just to run one of
 programs.  I'm
sitting here, typing this e-mail, on a personal computer which far
the memory capability of that
IBM computer.  Sounds like, one day soon, the average JOE scientist
be running GCM runs on
a computer sitting right on his/her desk.
     I should end here, but I can't resist  offering.  One poster to 
readsafe offered the observation that  tritium
will leak out of vacuum systems using O-Ring Vacuum Sealing  technology.

Boy, isn't that the truth.
One doing work with tritium should try to use Varian Flange vacuum line

technology, or something 
similar.  Expensive???, perhaps yes.  Also in 1978, EMR  
Photoelectric/Schlumberger (Princeton Jct.,
NJ) (No, not EML in New York City!!!!) switched from using some metal
 I cannot recall, to Uranium
or depleted Uranium as a gas storage getter material in their Minitron  
(Also known as a Bit__otron to one
of our former QC inspectors) neutron generator processing stations.
tritium is no longer introduced 
during tube processing directly from the tritium (also deuterium)  
laboratory cylinder, but rather from a
batch of uranium powder.  One heats and cools the Uranium powder to  get

the deuterium and/or tritium
in and out of the powder.  The deuterium and/or tritium is then
in a filament (of the other metal)
in each Minitron tube.  Each Minitron, if it makes it through the  life,

voltage, performance testing heads
to the oilfields for use in oil well logging.  One reaction I expect
use in the well logging is 
(n, gamma) with the neutrons being produced in one part of the oil well

logging device and a hardy
Schlumberger photomultiplier tube receiving any produced gamma  returns.

The gas gettering technology
using Uranium was described in a brief article in a scientific journal
 around 1978 or before.  Such an
article might be on the internet now???  I'm not all that sure  
Schlumberger/EMR Photoelectric/Weston,
etc. sees a need to disseminate information about how their neutron  
generator tubes are built, used and
    That's all for now.  Enjoy your weekend!!!!
    Regards,   Joseph R. (Joe) Preisig,  Ph.D.
                     (not Joseph O. Preisig, formerly of RCA Princeton, 
Hightstown and Somerville, NJ  USA)

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