One hundred centuries of solitude: Redirecting America’s high-level nuclear waste policies

James Flynn, James Chalmers, Doug Easterling, Roger Kasperson, Howard Kunreuther, C. K. Mertz, Alvin Mushkatel, K. David Pijawka, Paul Slovic, Lydia Dotto

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Time is both the ally of high-level nuclear waste (HLNW) managers and the enemy. It is the ally because the radioactivity in elements and isotopes decreases with age, making the waste progressively less dangerous to human health and safety and the environment. This rate of radioactive decline varies, in some cases diminishing by half (the half life) in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. In other cases the decay process takes centuries or hundreds of thousands of years before the wastes are safe for human contact. The problem as now conceptualized for HLNW managers is simple to state if not easy to achieve. The HLNW needs to be secured in some fashion until it decays, by virtue of its physical nature, to safe levels. Another possible future solution, not currently available, might be to change the ~~ructure of HLNW through high-technology processing and thus decompose the waste into units with different and less lengthy radioactivity. Learning whether this processing is a future option will require patience and generous amounts of time for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages129
ISBN (Electronic)9781000235722
ISBN (Print)9780367281908
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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    Flynn, J., Chalmers, J., Easterling, D., Kasperson, R., Kunreuther, H., Mertz, C. K., Mushkatel, A., David Pijawka, K., Slovic, P., & Dotto, L. (2019). One hundred centuries of solitude: Redirecting America’s high-level nuclear waste policies. Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429300653