Nature and engineering Working Together for a Safe Repository Page: 2 of 4
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If a repository were to be built at Yucca Mountain, it would be approximately 300 meters (1,000 feet) below the top of
the mountain. A series of man-made barriers would be in place to work with the natural system of the mountain to
protect the health and safety of the public.
could be used by anyone. In such concentrations as
are likely to exist, these particles are unlikely to harm
anyone using the groundwater.
These natural features would help limit opportuni-
ties for water to contact and dissolve the spent
nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste con-
tained within a repository. Together they would
make it difficult for any waste that may dissolve in
water over the thousands of years of the repository's
lifetime to move into areas where people live. The
site itself would protect an underground repository
against those disruptive natural events and processes
that could affect a surface storage facility. The reposi=
tory would be approximately 300 meters (1,000
feet) below the top of Yucca Mountain. The rock above
the repository would protect it against the effects of
extreme weather, climate change, erosion, and other
Engineered barriers contribute
to defense in depth
By itself, the mountain would provide a high degree of
protection to the public. Nevertheless, scientists have
devised a series of man-made, or engineered, barriers to
augment the natural system. Corrosion-resistant waste
packages, disposal tunnels excavated away from possible
entry points for moisture, water-resistant drip shields
placed over the waste packages, and other design com-
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
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United States. Department of Energy. Nature and engineering Working Together for a Safe Repository, report, September 12, 2000; Las Vegas, Nevada. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782349/m1/2/: accessed December 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.