Monday, September 27, 2010

Nuclear Waste Underground Disposal - Primer - 4

Since Nature has done such a wonderful job in locking up nuclear contamination, it became a romantic notion for us to to do the same.  "Oh, that we should lock up the Demons of Man, deep within the ground, so that we too, shall be as one with the Gods!"  This gave rise to all sorts of romantic fantasies, massive tomes, and fancy PowerPoint slides!

-look up Canadian Nuclear Waste Management, Yucca Mountain, romanticism.

The idea was basically -- dig a big hole in the rock, throw in the waste, seal it up and Good-bye, Charlie!  Of course, they had to present a wonderful picture of finding a piece of jewel-like solid rock, and a way to plug it back up, as good as the rock.  Since they had such a great vision of their crystal vault, it was nothing for them to make up stories on how long it should be locked away.  Millions of years?  Pah!  It should be kept so that a collapsed society of Bronze Age, sword and sorcery people, should not actually dig it up and eat it.  These people would be exactly like our ancestors in every way (except for the magic).  Of course, let us leave aside the fact that for the total collapse of civilization, these people must have been exposed to radiation that would rot your socks, and that the humanoids have probably evolved from raccoons!

-look up H.G. Wells - The Time Machine

But really, to keep things rational, and within known scientific thought, we should just think of keeping it out of Civilization's hair for 10,000 years.  Everything else is La-La Land!  The problem with indulging in fantasies is that there is no resolution, and we just pile up the waste on the shores of rivers.  -- Oh, wait!  That's already happening!

Oh, that Life be so simple!  The scientific reality is that nothing can live up to these stories, spun by scientists looking for a job.  Your project is then to discuss the properties of rock, and the adsorption properties of radioactive isotopes.  If our goal is to be reached, then the disposal must be in rock, and the waste must become the equivalent of rock.  It's the only thing we know!

This is becoming quite a mouthful!  Really, all you eager laptop students can break up the project by each post.  :)

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