Salt Rock - the 60-Year-Old Prodigy Host Rock for Consent-Based Disposal of Long-Lived Radioactive Waste
Leif G. Eriksson
The USA’s HLW-disposal program has been on hold since 2010 pending enabling legislation for its only candidate HLW-repository since 1987 at the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada and/or other, “consent-based”, HLW-disposition solutions. Related projections in 2008 and 2012 suggested they might open 9-12 years and 35 years after being adequately enabled, respectively. In 2014, domestic HLW arisings exceeded the capacity of the candidate repository by >4,000 metric tons (MT) and they were projected to grow by 2,000-2,300 MT/year. One or more new HLW repositories are thus highly-likely in the future. In the meantime, the DOE should make every effort to promptly take title to civilian-generated HLW by other means.
Historical evidence in the USA and abroad during the past 30+ years shows that all HLW-repository siting and development schedules and costs are governed by the inherent, intricate, relationships and related domino effects of the:
- Maturity/robustness of the disposal concept;
- Related levels of relevant domestic repository-sciences/engineering expertise, data, institutional knowledge, and applicable regulations;
- Abundance and “ease” of physical access to potentially-suitable host-rock sites;
- “Trust” in the implementing and regulating organizations;
- Timely resolution of inevitable contentions and lawsuits;
- Facility-host-acceptance level;
- Timely and adequate enabling legislation, and therefore, ultimately, by
- Prevailing POLITICAL WILL.
Based upon their respective status at the end of 2015, salt rock still offers the most, but not the only, promising path forward for new, mined, HLW repositories in the USA, and ~5-km-deep boreholes offer the most-promising disposal-solution for small HLW containers/packages/pellets.
WMS Journal Volume 2, Issue 2