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Shorter Nuke Waste Storage

Why plan to store nuke waste for 10,000 years?
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(+8, -5)
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Why spend hundreds of billions to store nuclear waste for 10,000 years when the technology will exist 100-200 years from now to either safely loft it into the sun or render it inert in place? Rather, construct a reasonable system designed to last 400 years. If one considers the pace of technology escalation, it seems unlikely our progeny will need to worry about our foolish missteps in energy production.
norfintork, Jan 02 2006


       Ah yes, let our children's children's children deal with it. Which seems to be the nub of the whole problem right now.   

       Not an idea, really, is it?
DrCurry, Jan 02 2006

       It sounds like a good idea to me. Honestly I think it sounds good, but my subconcience beckons that it is not. What happens in 400 hundred years when everybody has forgotten about the waste? What happens in 400 years when the waste starts leaking into the ground water, and for some reason we still don't have the technology to get rid of it effectively?   

       Toxic waste needs a place to be stored where it won't be uncovered by soil erosion, or it's containers rusted through. The best place for that is the Moon, or some other Space Rock that doesn't have soil erosion and a corrosive atmosphere. Almost all Metals corrode with time, or Rust, by combining with Oxygen, which is what I mean by "corrosive atmosphere".
EvilPickels, Jan 02 2006

       The intent is not to bury it and forget it. A portion of this would need to be above ground for monitoring and security. And this is not putting it off for future generations. To assume that civilization 400 years from now would be impotent to handle this material is about as bright as saying that “Man will never travel faster than the speed of a horse, for fear of his body being torn asunder by aerodynamic forces.” - That was a “scientific” observation made before trains were running.   

       If you consider the status quo, our current “storage” of high-level waste (spent fuel) in pools of water at the plants is downright frightening. In many instances, a simple truck bomb would be enough to rupture the wall of the storage pool thus draining the water and causing wide-spread disaster.   

       By moving to a shorter-term lower-cost, quicker solution, we will be reducing the cost and risk. And yes, it is an idea. If you subtract 9600 years of engineering out of the equation, the cost drops, decisions can be made inside of a human generation and the whole thing can move forward.
norfintork, Jan 02 2006

       excellent idea, very strong argument. and if amazingly we still don't know what to do with it in in 2406 then we can just do the same again. make it really, really, really safe for a short time rather than not very safe at all forever. deserves bun simply for the positive view of our species' potential.
rainbow, Jan 02 2006

       I tend to think we may believe we're planning for 10,000+ years, but in reality probably not... If we targeted for 400, my fear would be that the solution would actually last for maybe 50.   

       Also, there is an "out of sight out of mind" effect of having something stored for a time longer than a single generation but not long enough for significant advancement. A 400 year time frame would still require active thought on the subject given the current technological gap. But yet, we would push off funding since it seems like a long time and there are always immediate needs. 10k on the other hand is so long that it's reasonable enough to assume that standard advancement would fill the gap without much directed effort.   

       //By moving to a shorter-term lower-cost, quicker solution, we will be reducing the cost and risk.//   

       Cost maybe, but risk? I don't see how quicker/lower cost relates to risk reduction. This seems very counterintuitive to me.
Zuzu, Jan 02 2006

       I understand it is possible to chemically separate the waste into different components. Then the long lived radioisotopes could be handled separately from the short lived radioisotopes. Then you CAN practically move a lot of this problem to shorter storage terms like a few decades and much of the long lived material can actually be reused to fuel the reactors.
NoOneYouKnow, Jan 02 2006

       The risk reduction comes in the form of moving it off of the nuclear plant sites where it is woefully high-risk, and has been so for 30-40 years...
norfintork, Jan 02 2006

       A good point: //...then we can just do the same again. make it really, really, really safe for a short time rather than not very safe at all forever.//   

       Along similar lines, why would you buy all of the storage you will ever need for your computer today? In two years, it will cost half as much for twice the disk space.   

       Even the materials we would use to construct such a facility today would seem laughable in two hundred years.
norfintork, Jan 02 2006

       The corollary of this idea is that we should let the Mormons take care of it, by building waste receptacles into the sub-basements of those flashy tabernacles they build. Think of it: what sort of building is reliably maintained over 400+ years? Churches. So if you want an edifice good for 400 years, use a church basement. You could count on one of the old religions like Catholicism, but I have my doubts... The Mormons, on the other hand, seem like a religion with staying power. Barring an asteroid or similar calamity, it is a safe bet that there will be Mormons in 400 years - and probably some of those flashy tabernacles too.
bungston, Jan 03 2006

       I like it - with enough lead shielding, you could also cut down on winter heating bills...
norfintork, Jan 03 2006

       And Mormoms are renowned record-keepers. Nothing stored by them would be forgotten later.
gardnertoo, Jan 03 2006

       [bungston] - please, "temple", not "tabernacle". We generally use "tabernacle" for a meetinghouse for a "stake", which is the second-to-most local church division. (With the exception, of course, of "The Tabernacle", which refers to the one on Temple Square, home of the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir"; which, btw, houses some pretty noteworthy sub-basements, but is currently in the middle of an 18-month remodel so you just missed an opportunity.) The small-t tabernacles are also used by the local units ("wards"), and thereby would have events such as the Boy Scouts (heathen vandalious brats, anyway, esp. after basketball, and when it's my kids) meeting there every Wed. night till 10:30 p.m. and being cleaned up after by lay facilities security people. Such as me. Eek.
lurch, Jan 03 2006

       Really, it only seems fair. Those elderly cathedrals in Europe got built ontothe old druidic power sites, and so places like Chartres got the subsubbasements full of shoggoths and other eldritch horrors. The poor Mormons in the new world get subbasements with - what? Old sporting goods? Nope, a big stash of nuclear waste would afford some real gravitas.   

       Sorry about the tabernacle mixup. I just love that word,"tabernacle". Tabernacle, tabernacle, tabernacle!
bungston, Jan 03 2006

       I think building a half assed vessel containing the most deadly and poisonous subtances known to man is a good idea.
Antegrity, Jan 03 2006

       I guess so:   

       "Make thee an ark of gopher wood" GEN 6:14   

       "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes" EXD 2:3   

       "And they shall make an ark [of] shittim wood" EXD 25:10   

       for a retelling of the shittim wood ark story, see DEU 10:3   

       for further adventures of the shittim wood ark, see NUM 14:44; JOS 6:6; 1SAM 5:4; 2SAM 6:11; 1CHR 13:6; 1CHR 22:19 Incorporates the "most deadly and poisonous substances known to man" irony -- if you'll grant me the privilege of a small conceit.
reensure, Jan 03 2006

       Seems like a few folks are getting hung up on the concept that I’m proposing a lesser structure. I’m not suggesting that we build a sub-standard facility, merely one that will survive, INTACT for a period of 400 years. I do not profess to be a structural engineer, but common sense would dictate that if you build something to last 4 centuries vs. 100 centuries, there would be vast differences in build time, cost and the ability to have a lawmaker decide on a course of action. Also, note the comment by –rainbow. If you can see ways to improve it in 100 or 200 years (if need be), then you can with better materials and a greater knowledge base. The major point is to get it off of plant property where security is lower and risk is higher.
norfintork, Jan 03 2006

       I think that's a fine idea .... if I was spending the money, that's what we'd have.   

       I believe west's present plan is to encase the waste in a mountain and make looting an unlikely outcome -- more expensive than big, tough boxes for sure, but also less likely to appear for sale on eBay when they're pulled out for refitting in 50-100 years. Considering progress to that end, site prep may continue for 400 years and secure deliveries to well beyond.   

       I wish I could play the "Strontium" episode of an old TV original series. It dealt with the challenge a leader faced dissuading that future society from opening the alter that contained contaminated material, after their belief in a computer generated message describing a 'mysterious' fate failed to keep them away.
reensure, Jan 03 2006


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