Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' Blogs

August 21, 2012

A Salty Tomb within an Underground Crystal

(Continued)

WIPP’s storage “rooms” for nuclear waste are over 2,000 feet underground in the salt bed. From my point of view, part of the magic of WIPP is that salt that deep underground deforms like plastic, flowing about three inches per year. That’s a helpful feature for the isolation of the nuclear waste because it means the salt will flow around the casks of waste, enveloping them in earth material and sealing them in place as time unfolds.

Alert readers may remember that concentrated, high-level nuclear waste was slated to go to the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. We as a nation spent billions of dollars researching and building that repository. But Yucca Mountain was ultimately nixed because people in Nevada didn’t want the waste in their state.

Most folks in New Mexico feel differently about WIPP and its successful operations are converting some skeptics, one by one. There’s even the argument to be made that WIPP could someday accept high level waste, not just the type it’s licensed for.

Nuclear energy is part of our daily electrical power supply. No matter your feelings about that, we’ve got nuclear waste on our hands. For my part, I’m glad WIPP is putting waste into a salty tomb.

---

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

Text Only
Sister Newspapers' Blogs
Bill Archer
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
Greg Jordan