Nuclear waste: increasing scale and sociopolitical impacts

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Science  07 Jul 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4350, pp. 22-28
DOI: 10.1126/science.663637


The article argues that insufficient attention has been paid to the operational aspects of the U.S. radioactive waste management system when it grows to the scale necessary to handle wastes produced by a fully deployed plutonium economy. Without such information, many of the unsettling speculations which have become part of the public debate and are summarized herein cannot be clearly addressed. The article then outlines the types of information necessary to begin estimating the costs and consequences of radioactive waste management. Finally, an index of social exposure to radioactive hazard is proposed to improve the basis for policy decisions in this area.