[ RadSafe ] [ RadSafe Yucca Mtn.

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Tue Sep 21 19:26:51 CDT 2010

Sept. 21


         You ended your proposal by saying " , , , and for that 
reason ought to be acceptable to reasonable people."

         Where do you propose to find these "reasonable 
people"?  (Rhetorical question, of course --- heh, heh).

Steven Dapra

At 09:03 PM 9/20/2010, Jerry Cohen wrote:
>Since my views on the Yucca Mountain Project to the effect that the 
>YMP is, and always has been a dumb idea seem to have elicited some 
>comments (mostly negative), from Radsafers, perhaps I should 
>elaborate. To provide some perspective on the subject, allow me 
>first to discuss the history of the development of HLW policy in the 
>USA to give some idea on how the situation degenerated into its 
>currently dismal state. Then, for what it is worth, I shall give my 
>ideas on how nuclear waste should be managed in this country.
>The problem began, I believe, in 1957 when the AEC decided it needed 
>to establish a policy for managing HLW. Accordingly, the AEC 
>requested the NAS to form an expert committee to make 
>recommendations. Unfortunately, since this committee consisted 
>almost entirely of geologists and other earth scientists, it was 
>apparently predetermined that underground burial of the HLW was the 
>only reasonable method for disposing the waste. Initially, it was 
>recommended that HLW, appropriately solidified, be emplaced in 
>abandoned salt mines, where it could remain indefinitely since it 
>was unlikely that water would infiltrate. Several years and millions 
>of dollars later, for various political and technical reasons the 
>idea was abandoned and the AEC, and successor organizations (ERDA, & 
>DOE) embarked on a series of unsuccessful, schemes to bury the waste 
>somewhere that would be technologically and politically acceptable. 
>This approach also turned out to be a fiasco because pretty much 
>everywhere (including Nevada) was in somebody's "backyard". During 
>this period a few "voices in the wilderness" ,including myself, 
>recommended that oceanic deposal, might be the best bet. Foremost, 
>among them was Charles Osterberg, a prominent oceanographer working 
>with the IAEA and, Director of their Marine Laboratory. The capacity 
>of  the ocean to dilute is so great that even if all the HLW 
>were  to dissolve (an absurd possibility) the radioactive 
>concentration would still be insignificant from a public health 
>standpoint. If the HLW were vitrified or solidified into an 
>insoluble form, the health and safety consequences would be of no 
>consequence. Of course, the actual consequences are unimportant 
>compared to the perceived effects. This simple observation was 
>apparent to just about everyone involved with HLW policy. 
>Accordingly , if the perception of hazard (real or imagined) is the 
>overriding consideration in gaining acceptability for any HLW 
>management policy, why have we wasted billions of dollars on 
>technological research including waste solidification methods and 
>geologic studies? Does anyone really believe that Senator Reid cares 
>about the solubility of the waste form, the migration rate of 
>dissolved waste, or the calculated radiation dose that might result 
>from any "worst case" scenario. I seriously doubt it. He just 
>doesn't want it in his backyard!
>       OK, so what policy for HLW management should be applied, I suggest:
>1. All nuclear fuel should be reprocessed and all fissile material 
>recovered for fuel fabrication or other useful purposes.
>2. The raffinates including all unusable fission products should be 
>solidified by mixing it in concrete and emplaced and solidified in 
>suitable drums
>3. The waste containing drums should be transported to the deepest 
>part of the ocean, and dropped to descend (>10 km.) to the ocean floor.
>I realize that the actual application would be much more complex, 
>but I think you can get the idea from the suggested steps . I am 
>sure you can think or lots of reasons why this will not work, but I 
>really believe that no matter how distasteful this approach might be 
>to the "Greenies" , it would absolutely minimize resultant radiation 
>exposure and for that reason ought to be acceptable to reasonable people.
>Jerry Cohen

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