Faulty assumptions for repository requirements

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Long term performance requirements for a geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste are based on assumptions concerning water use and subsequent deaths from cancer due to ingesting water contaminated with radio isotopes ten thousand years in the future. This paper argues that the assumptions underlying these requirements are faulty for a number of reasons. First, in light of the inevitable technological progress, including efficient desalination of water, over the next ten thousand years, it is inconceivable that a future society would drill for water near a repository. Second, even today we would not use water without testing ... continued below

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974 Kilobytes pages

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Sutcliffe, W G June 3, 1999.

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Description

Long term performance requirements for a geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste are based on assumptions concerning water use and subsequent deaths from cancer due to ingesting water contaminated with radio isotopes ten thousand years in the future. This paper argues that the assumptions underlying these requirements are faulty for a number of reasons. First, in light of the inevitable technological progress, including efficient desalination of water, over the next ten thousand years, it is inconceivable that a future society would drill for water near a repository. Second, even today we would not use water without testing its purity. Third, today many types of cancer are curable, and with the rapid progress in medical technology in general, and the prevention and treatment of cancer in particular, it is improbable that cancer caused by ingesting contaminated water will be a sign&ant killer in the far future. This paper reviews the performance requirements for geological repositories and comments on the difficulties in proving compliance in the face of inherent uncertainties. The already tiny long-term risk posed by a geologic repository is presented and contrasted with contemporary every day risks. A number of examples of technological progress, including cancer treatments, are advanced. The real and significant costs resulting from the overly conservative requirements are then assessed. Examples are given of how money (and political capital) could be put to much better use to save lives today and in the future. It is concluded that although a repository represents essentially no long-term risk, monitored retrievable dry storage (above or below ground) is the current best alternative for spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste.

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974 Kilobytes pages

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  • American Nuclear Society International Conference on Future Nuclear Systems, Jackson Hole, WY (US), 08/29/1999--09/02/1999

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JC-134384
  • Report No.: YN0100000
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.1007/s007660050024 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 14475
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc620154

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • June 3, 1999

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • May 6, 2016, 2:28 p.m.

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Sutcliffe, W G. Faulty assumptions for repository requirements, article, June 3, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc620154/: accessed June 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.