Podcasts on Nuclear Waste Management by Deep Isolation, a company developing "geological isolation", a possible nuclear waste disposal solution.
- Jun 25, 2020 7:17 am GMT
Those who are interested in the issue of nuclear waste might want to have a look at this series of 3 podcasts provided by Deep Isolation. Keep in mind that this is a company that is developing the idea of geological isolation of high level nuclear waste. Regardless of what one may think of the podcasts, the CEO makes a point worth reporting here:
Just a few highlights of the first podcast (about 20 minutes):
The speaker is from Science Matters.
- The podcast starts with what I think is an excellent statement of the problem of nuclear waste, with special reference to 1) the quantity of waste that is stored and awaiting permanent disposal, 2) the quantity of plutonium that the waste contains that no one has any legitimate use for, not even for defense, and 3) the toxicity of the waste and the hazard it represents. I have no doubt that some people will dismiss some of the statements as “alarmist”. I make no apologies for that.
- The speaker goes on to explain the various alternatives for permanent storage including the status quo, Yucca Mountain and similar sites, vertical and horizontal “geological isolation.” He says that the main problem is that there is no doubt that the casks in which some of the waste is now stored will certainly leak in the time frame during which the waste needs to be stored, even by the most conservative estimates.
- The speaker describes geological isolation as, at this point in its development, the “least bad” of the alternatives, one that deserves a much closer look by the NRC.
My comment: Have a look. I hope you agree that it is not a bad use of 20 minutes.
Podcast 2 – about 11 minutes
A few notes:
The speaker is from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).
- There is a general acknowledgement of the problem, if not quite in terms of the consequences of getting it wrong, but from the reputational damage from the problem and the severe “constraints on investment” that the problem poses.
- He talks about the “scary” (moderator´s word), intimidating (speaker´s word) above ground facilities, with the fences surrounding the cask sites, the people who are guarding them, and their weapons. His children, apparently, are not reassured.
- He says that geological isolation is “easy”. The problem is the politics.
My comment: Hard to disagree with that last part.
Podcast 3 (about 21 minutes)
The speaker is from Keene State College
A few notes from the conversation:
- This is a discussion of “consent siting” and how societies arrive at such weighty decisions. Dealing with Civil vs. Defense waste complicates the already very complex issues.
- The initial idea was to have elected representatives decide. But, elected officials, especially local ones, were not elected to handle these kinds of issues (as opposed to, for example, school or road issues).
- How do companies and government institutions get society to reach conclusions? How can a national consensus be reached? The requirements, on the part of the institutions, include aspects such as Trust, Caring, Commitment, Mutual Respect, Competence, Predictability. How to achieve these requirements was discussed.
- Bottom line: Neither the necessary trust nor the other requirements and conditions for reaching a sensible consensus exist in the US in order to solve this problem, especially with respect to the DOE and NRC.
- The speaker says that there was a path toward a solution via Obama´s Blue Ribbon Commission. But all of that progress seems to have disappeared since 2016, both in terms of personnel and on-line documentation.
- The blame is squarely on the politicians. The answer may be to set up an independent body with power to move forward toward national consensus wholly without political involvement.
My comment: Sorry to be cynical, but Fat Chance, at least for the time being.
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