My estimate for the survival of the human species is 30 years to 100 years.
Yucca is over a water aquifer. It will eventually leak and get into that aquifer. If we are "lucky" that will be 500 years to 10,000 years from now.
So sorry future peoples, if there are any, we need to kick this can down the road to you, but if we don't we will die now. So please understand. We also hope that you are smarter and more spiritually tuned in to how everything interacts and have better technology to deal with our shitty mess, that we reluctantly, but out of necessity, jam into Yucca mountain and hope for the best. Please forgive us, but you would not exist if we had not taken this action.
"As outlined above, used fuel may either by reprocessed or disposed of directly. Either way, there is a strong technical incentive to delay final disposal of HLW for about 40-50 years after removal, at which point the heat and radioactivity will have reduced by 99.9%."
See the graphs for more information.
The status of high level nuclear waste storage:
“The majority of current U.S. irradiated spent fuel storage facilities use thin-walled (mostly 1/2” thick) stainless steel canisters that the NRC acknowledges cannot currently be inspected or repaired and are vulnerable to cracking and leaking 16 years after a crack starts.
These 'dry storage thin steel canister systems cannot be inspected, maintained, repaired, adequately monitored to avoid radioactive leaks, and the DOE pilot plan has no plan for replacing failing canisters or retrieval of fuel, as required by NWPA.' ” (cont.)
"(Excerpts from Donna Gilmore-San Onofre Safety, 7-31-2016 Comment to the US DOE on 'Consent Based Siting'). Additionally, as she points out, 'Near real-time radiation monitoring with public access should be required,' yet it is not. Read here article and more here:
https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/interim-storage-open-air-parking-lots-of-high-level-nuclear-waste-risk-major-radioactive-leaks-most-canister-systems-do-not-meet-standards-made-of-thin-steel-neither-adequately-inspected-nor-adeq/ And here: https://sanonofresafety.org "
"Also frightening is that most US high level waste appears to be kept in open air parking-lot like set-ups. While the US harasses people at the airport over their shoes, etc., this is the real risk and it’s being ignored. The proposed interim storage facility is also open air. In the UK, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and probably every European country with nuclear waste, the spent fuel casks are housed inside of some sort of building. A building would allow secondary monitoring of spent fuel canisters and the potential to filter any leaks. Additionally, a building would help protect from the elements, helping to reduce corrosion, and ideally be resistant to airplane attacks. The Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have open air facilities, built with US help. In the case of the Ukraine, “The Guardian” newspaper has called these “shocking”: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/06/nuclear-waste-stored-in-shocking-way-120-miles-from-ukraine-front-line
Most, and perhaps all, US high level nuclear is stored like North Anna Nuclear Power Station, which is near many small airports and the 50 mile fallout zone would impact Richmond Virginia and suburban DC. As seen in the pictures below, these spent fuel casks are huge, and yet only a very thin piece of metal protects the environment from potentially lethal levels of radioactive materials…." (cont.)
North Anna Nuclear Spent Fuel
NRC spent nuclear fuel horizontal storage
NRC spent fuel canisters
Clearly there is nothing innovative, then, about the spent nuclear fuel conceptual drawing for the WCS Interim Waste Facility as presented to the US NRC. Proposals to insert the casks in the ground would mean increased corrosion rates, increased difficulties in monitoring, increased retrieval difficulties and do not necessarily protect from an airplane crash as they are not deep enough in the ground. The only decent solution is to store the nuclear waste in a hard-rock facility which remains permanently open and perpetually monitored. The second best is an above ground bunker-like facility, which is permanently open and perpetually monitored. Additionally the nuclear waste oligopoly needs to be broken and innovation in storage encouraged, instead of being blocked. The storage needs to be not for profit in order to have better storage at lower cost."
of the defense high-level radioactive waste in DOE’s current inventory is stored at the Hanford and Savannah River sites and is planned to be (or has already been) vitrified into a glass form. DOE also manages defense high-level radioactive waste in a dry calcine form at the Idaho National Laboratory. DOE also manages spent nuclear fuel from the operation of the U.S. Navy nuclear fleet,
and from research and development (R&D) activities. The DOE spent nuclear fuel inventory totals approximately 2,400 MTHM.10
10 U.S. Department of Energy, Assessment of Disposal Options for DOE-Managed High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel, October
2014, p. 8-9. https://www.energy.gov/ne/downloads/assessment-disposal-options-doe-managed-high-level-radioactive-waste-and-spentnuclear.
Look at how this stuff is transported:
Granted, HLW is hazardous to transport, and has a lot of decay heat and often high levels of gamma radiation.
Trans-Uranic waste and HLW should be differentiated for discussion of interim and long-term storage.
Interm storage facilities need to be designed to be more safe. Current facilities are inadequate for safety.
OK, granted interim storage is needed. But likely not for 100 years.
The problem I had was your saying it had to be stored above ground for 100 years. And it sounded like you were implying present interim storage facilities were adequate to address safety concerns.
They are not.
HoTaters Geology of the Yucca Mtn. site, published in 2006:
Just because you may have read somewhere the type of volcanic tuffs underlaying Yucca Mtn. are "porous" does not necessarily mean there is cause for concern. Please see this discussion from the Federation of American Scientists, 2013:
"The rock at Yucca Mountain is neither granite nor a plastic material that will entomb the waste – Yucca Mountain is made primarily of rocks called tuff and ignimbrite – also called pyroclastics. Both of these rocks are the remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions – volcanic ash and debris that fell and that solidified into a solid mass. Both of these rocks can be very porous – some tuffs have a porosity of over 50% (meaning that half of their volume consists of pore space) – but they are not necessarily permeable. In other words, they might be built like a sponge, with lots of pores and holes, but the pores aren’t well-connected so there aren’t many pathways for water to easily flow. Not only that, but over time other minerals have formed in much of the pore space, blocking what flow paths do exist.
What all of this means is that the rocks of which Yucca Mountain is composed should …." (cont.)
The answer to this seems to be “it depends.” For example, water will flow more quickly along fractures and cracks, but the water will also deposit secondary minerals along this path and these minerals will eventually help to seal off the cracks (this same process is behind the beautiful crystalline linings of geodes). Both of these seem to have happened at Yucca Mountain in the past – geologists have found these secondary minerals lining fractures in the rock, indicating the past flow of water through the fissures, but the mineralization has also served to clog these conduits. So the question should be not so much “are there fractures” so much as “how much water can flow along these fractures?” In the case of Yucca Mountain we need to consider not only the permeability of these fissures, but also the amount of rain and groundwater available to percolate."
The concern is climate change over time, for the discussion of permeability of the rock.
At present, there apparently is no solution.
Deep geologic repositories and possibly borehole storage are sadly, at present, our best potenitial solutions for long-term waste storage.
The dry casks and interim storage facilities vent off radiation into the environment.
Yet the World Nuclear Association states this does not happen (see link above, previous post), and that there is no risk.
Anyone who has become educated on the problem of waste storage and the types of wastes generated by nuclear facilities and weapons manufacture will be able to see specious content in the information published by the World Nuclear Association.
Dentists and medical professionals (sigh) rely on information published by the World Nuclear Association to determine safety standards.
Good discussion of rock porosity and permeability in an aquifer, by a hydrogeologist.
"So we know that the Yucca Mountain repository site is situated several hundred feet from both the water table and the surface precipitation, but what about the rock? Well, it’s reasonably porous and it has some fractures – not the ideal rock to form an impermeable barrier. Geologists have found fractures and faults in the overlying rock, as well as evidence that hydrous minerals have formed in the past. This means that not only will the rock hold a lot of water, but there are some flowpaths to get that water to the waste location. On the other hand, the rock pretty dry, so the water has to first fill up the pore space and then hydrate the minerals – something that can take hundreds of thousands of years in a climate as dry as Nevada’s. So from this standpoint, the hydrogeology of Yucca Mountain might not be perfect, but it’s pretty good.
The kicker is that, while we know what today’s climate is like, we don’t know what it will be like in a thousand years. If it stays dry then the waste will be in good shape. But if the climate changes and puts Nevada in the monsoon belt then all bets are off. This is not disqualifying, by the way – but it would …." (cont.)
The post Yucca Mountain – hydrogeology appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders. "
Looks like the jury is still out on Yucca Mtn. The project was killed, IMHO, before the researchers could reach meaningful conclusions. That (reaching meaningful conclusions) takes a long time.