Danger Underground: Nuclear Waste Disposal In Yucca Mountain

2917 words - 12 pages

Danger Underground: Nuclear Waste Disposal in Yucca Mountain


The U.S. Department of Energy has proposed plans to deposit 70,000 tons of highly radioactive waste underground Yucca Mountain in Nevada. While many environmental questions and concerns have been raised about the safety of the waste disposal plan for the next 10,000 years, there appears to be no alternative. Waste from nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants are a serious environmental problem that will be present for generations to come. It should be society's responsibility to come up with more efficient sources of energy, despite the costs, to prevent the production of more hazardous waste in the future.

The "nuclear age" produced 52,000 tons of spent fuel from commercial, military, and research reactors, along with 91 million gallons of radioactive waste from plutonium processing (Long 12). More than 90% of the waste that needs to be stored is from commercial nuclear power plants, and 10% is from defense programs (Environmental Protection Agency/ Yucca Mtn. Standards). The waste from defense programs primarily accumulated during the arms race of the Cold War. Waste produced from commercial nuclear power plants is currently stored in 131 separate facilities in 43 different states, most of which are east of the Mississippi (Wheelwright 2002).

Several government departments are responsible for taking care of all this waste. The Department of Energy (DOE) runs the nuclear facilities and supervises cleanup performed by commercial contractors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for setting health and environmental waste standards for the long-term storage of waste produced by these facilities. The Department of Transportation supervises most shipments of nuclear materials, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sets the standards for those shipments and licenses all commercial reactors (Long, 9).

Finding a Waste Disposal Site

The government started researching disposal sites for nuclear waste in the early 1970s. Experts around the world agreed that the safest place to store nuclear materials is deep underground, so most site proposals were located deep below mountain ranges (Yucca Mountain Project website). The Nuclear Waste Policy Act was passed in 1987, which eliminated all prospective sites but one: Yucca Mountain in Nevada (Ewing and Macfarlane 2002). More than 4 billion dollars has been spent on researching this site in the last twenty years.

Yucca Mountain is a long flat ridge of volcanic ash that reaches 5,000 feet high. The site is attractive for several reasons. First of all, Nevada receives an average rainfall of only seven inches, which is important because corrosion due to water is a major concern with nuclear waste storage. Also, Yucca Mountain is located within Nye County, an area with only a few hundred residents. Lastly, the Nellis Air Force Base is located nearby, providing a certain amount of protection,...

Find Another Essay On Danger Underground: Nuclear Waste Disposal in Yucca Mountain

Nuclear Plants and Nuclear Waste Disposal

947 words - 4 pages disposal of this waste? The answer is so simple that some people might think you were kidding. We bury it. There are no high tech facilities with high security, simply a big hole in the ground. Now you might be wondering where these burial sites are, the answer might scare you. A mere 200 miles away from Reno, NV lies a mountain known as Yucca Mountain. What’s so special about this mountain? It’s planned to soon house over 100,000,000 Gallons of

Waste, Radiation, and Danger; The Hanford Nuclear Power Plants

1092 words - 4 pages Waste, Radiation, and Danger; The Hanford Nuclear Power PlantsAre nuclear power plants dangerous? In a word, yes, and Hanford is one of the oldest ones around, producing radiation since 1944. Radioactive materials emitted from a nuclear power plant, such as Hanford, can injure living tissue, and a high enough dose can kill. The public has seen the danger, although over a decade ago, the meltdown at Chernobyl will not be forgotten, and cannot

Which method is the best to solve nuclear waste disposal problem?

987 words - 4 pages : geological environment, buffer/backfill, metal overpack, metal container, solid waste-form. In this system, the spent nuclear fuel is placed in special container and then it is disposed underground, so the waste will gradually decrease its radioactivity by natural radioactive decay. However, the other type of nuclear waste disposal is PUREX reprocessing method. This method involves separating plutonium, uranium and some residual waste from spent


1185 words - 5 pages , storing all of our nation’s nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, but has been met with much resistance from Nevada residents and politicians and environmental groups. The proposal is that Yucca Mountain will be a “permanent disposal facility” for two types of nuclear energy. Spent energy is from our nations 103 nuclear reactors. According to the article “Is Yucca Mountain in Nevada a safe disposal site?,” spent energy will comprise more than

The Difference Between Medieval And Early Modern Is One Of Degree Rather Than Strict Demarcation." Discuss This Idea In The Context Of Any Two Writers You Have Read

1733 words - 7 pages , and the land it occupies includes public land, Nevada Test Site land, and Nellie Air Force Base land. Yucca Mountain is not a safe disposal site because of some following reasons. First of all, it will be a threat to groundwater. Nuclear waste cannot be disposed of; it only can be stored, and the Department of energy has indicated that if radioactive waste is stored in Yucca Mountain, it will leak into the groundwater someday. As a result, the

Nuclear Power for mankind

1769 words - 7 pages with a thick section of porous volcanic rocks, as the nation's first permanent underground repository for more than 36,290 metric tons of nuclear waste. However, opposition from state residents and uncertainty that Yucca Mountain may not be completely insulated from earthquakes and other hazards has prolonged government studies. For example, a geological study by the U.S. Department of Energy detected water in several mineral samples taken at the

The Yucca Mountain Is Not Safe

1629 words - 7 pages The United States Department of Energy plans to turn Yucca Mountain into the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste repository. This will only happen if Congress finds the site safe. The Yucca Mountain is, in fact, not safe. The Yucca Mountain should not be the repository site of the nation due to miscommunication in the future, experiments gone badly and not enough support. It is not a good idea for the government to spend billions of dollars

The Yucca Mountain Is Not Safe

808 words - 4 pages Disposing of spent nuclear fuel by placing it deep in the earth is a race against time and corrosion. A race that that the proposed long-term nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain know that they will eventually lose. Yucca Mountain is a six-mile long, 1,200-foot high, flat-topped volcanic ridge about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas designated for storing the nation’s waste. The mountain’s storage repository site has been a big debate among

Nuclear Waste

1098 words - 4 pages Mountain is a controversial site chosen to hold an underground repository of high radioactive waste. It is located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The repository will hold 78,000 tons of radioactive wastes so the nation could meet its long-term energy needs. At the present day, nuclear waste is being disposed at the nuclear plants waiting for a permanent disposal facility. However, even if the repository at Yucca Mountain is opened another

The Not So Safe Yucca Mountain

1145 words - 5 pages The United States Department of Energy plans to turn Yucca Mountain into the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste repository, if Congress finds the site safe. The Yucca Mountain is, in fact, not safe. Based on the non-fiction book “About a Mountain” by John D’agata and an article “American Wasteland” by Charles Bock, the Yucca Mountain should not be the repository site of the nation due to miscommunication in the future, experiments gone bad

Nuclear Energy: The New Green Energy Alternative?

1043 words - 4 pages came in. It presented an ideal alternative to the current methods of waste storage, such as the dry cask design presently used by the United States, because it takes the spent nuclear fuel out of the reactors decreasing the risk of overburdening the reactor. Yucca Mountain could have also been a prime candidate for a multinational host site, where the United States, as the host, would have been "entitled to benefits for providing a valuable disposal

Similar Essays

Yucca Mountain As A Permanent Nuclear Waste Site

973 words - 4 pages Yucca Mountain-Right or Wrong?As the United States' nuclear waste buildup becomes larger, the need for a permanent storage facility becomes more urgent. One proposed site is in the Yucca Mountains of Nevada. This makes many Nevadans uneasy, as visions of three-legged babies and phosphorescent people come to mind. This is an unfounded worry, as many reasons prove. In fact, the Yucca Mountains provide an ideal site for a permanent underground

Nuclear Waste Disposal Essay

1278 words - 5 pages will still need to be placed somewhere which means that this method will go hand in hand with the Yucca Mountain permanent site project. As these methods are being researched and considered by the United States, nuclear waste disposal is a global matter and is being discussed on an international level. There are currently over 40 countries which have some sort of nuclear waste that will need to be disposed and 31 countries that use

Nuclear Waste Disposal Essay

3979 words - 16 pages disposal does not only affect Nevada. Transportation of the nuclear waste from the reactors to the repository will be conducted by train and truck routes. This will, in fact, affect 43 states (Flynn, 1997). Indiana is one of those states; with shipments through Portage, Indianapolis, Porter, Southbend, Wellsboro, Fort Wayne, Evansville, Jeffersoonville, and Goshen (St. Joe Valley Greens, 1997). The Yucca Mt. Project is very controversial. Partially

Nuclear Waste Disposal In The United States

1151 words - 5 pages , Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was approved in 1987 and was to become the sole repository for high level waste in the US. Over the next 20 years, the government spent $31 million to study the mountain under full compliance by the state of Nevada (Forbes). In 2008, the plans were discontinued under the idea that all of the nuclear wastes in the US should not be concentrated in one general area. In the event that there were a nuclear catastrophe, damage