Nuclear Waste Disposal
Congress Needs to Wake Up to Nuclear Waste Disposal, Part 2
By James Finch
Inside Alloy 22 Engineered Barrier Canisters
Within the first 1,000 years, about 99 percent of the radioactivity in the reactor fuel will have dissipated through the natural process of radioactive decay. For those who believe the nuclear waste will be dumped in some hole in the ground – as some fanatical environmentalists falsely compared this to a landfill disposal – think again. The Department of Energy designed rust-resistant canisters lined with titanium drip shield to prevent water entry. A new alloy for these canisters was created in 1987 called Alloy 22, which is a blend of nickel, chromium and other corrosive-resistant metals.
In one DOE simulation, it was found the waste canisters wouldn’t begin to rust for about 80,000 years. Kraft told us, “From the presentations at the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meetings, the amount of time that the metal is actually subjected to the corrosive environment is actually far less in terms of hundreds of years.” And who’s to say how much technology will advance over the next 10,000 or 80,000 years? Imagine for a moment how much technology has changed our lives over the past one hundred years, let alone over the previous 10,000 years. The fact is we will all be long dead before a single drop of moisture ever rusts one of those canisters. And so will the next 2000 generations of our great grandchildren.
As a result of the geological and man-made barriers, scientific reports demonstrate the largest expected annual radiation dose near Yucca Mountain would be 0.1 millirem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set an annual 15-millirem limit. The EPA’s dosage is about one-half what most of us get from cosmic rays every year. A chest x-ray gives you a much higher dose. Occupational standards for workers at nuclear power plants are ten times higher. Clearly, both science and logical rationale are being ignored when politicians and environmentalists dream up such “Twilight Zone” guidelines for Yucca Mountain. When the EPA standard of one million years was proposed, based upon a 1995 National Academy of Science study, it was “unprecedented worldwide,” Kraft said.
Is Transporting the Nuclear Waste to Yucca Mountain Safe?