News FocusRadioactive Waste Disposal

For Radioactive Waste From Weapons, a Home at Last

Science  12 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5408, pp. 1626-1628
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5408.1626

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Summary

Everywhere that U.S. scientists and engineers have looked for a place to store the mounting tons of radioactive waste created by nuclear weapons production and by nuclear power plants, they have found geological and political problems. The one lone success story has been the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a multibillion-dollar effort to bury long-lived radioactive wastes in deep salt beds in New Mexico. Unlike any other deep radwaste facility in the world, WIPP has managed to gain approval from scientists and regulators as a safe repository, and even many locals are behind the project. If the judgments are favorable in the two lawsuits it still faces, which government scientists and lawyers say is likely, bomb-related wastes could start to be entombed as early as the end of the month.