Can shale safely host US nuclear waste?

Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union



"Even as cleanup efforts after Japan’s Fukushima disaster offer a stark reminder of the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) stored at nuclear plants worldwide, the decision in 2009 to scrap Yucca Mountain as a permanent disposal site has dimmed hope for a repository for SNF and other high-level nuclear waste (HLW) in the United States anytime soon. About 70,000 metric tons of SNF are now in pool or dry cask storage at 75 sites across the United States [Government Accountability Office, 2012], and uncertainty about its fate is hobbling future development of nuclear power, increasing costs for utilities, and creating a liability for American taxpayers [Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, 2012].However, abandoning Yucca Mountain could also result in broadening geologic options for hosting America’s nuclear waste. Shales and other argillaceous formations (mudrocks, clays, and similar clay-rich media) have been absent from the U.S. repository program. In contrast, France, Switzerland, and Belgium are now planning repositories in argillaceous formations after extensive research in underground laboratories on the safety and feasibility of such an approach [Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, 2012; Nationale Genossenschaft für die Lagerung radioaktiver Abfälle (NAGRA), 2010; Organisme national des déchets radioactifs et des matières fissiles enrichies, 2011]. Other nations, notably Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom, are studying argillaceous formations or may consider them in their siting programs [Japan Atomic Energy Agency, 2012; Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), (2011a); Powell et al., 2010]."
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Can shale safely host US nuclear waste?
Series title Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
DOI 10.1002/2013EO300001
Volume 94
Issue 30
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Eastern Branch
Description 3 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
First page 261
Last page 262
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