Radioactive Waste Disposal and Protection of the Future Public

Radioactive Waste Disposal and Protection of the Future Public

John Tauxe (Neptune and Company, Los Alamos, NM, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.2015070107
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Abstract

Much of humanity's solid waste will outlast the human race, and the waste generated by one generation must be endured and managed by future societies. Radioactive wastes are unique in that their regulation explicitly considers the protection of future generations. But radioactive waste management faces a serious quandary: how to balance the substantial expense of waste isolation against the uncertain mitigation of risks to hypothetical future humans. Most of this uncertainty stems not from natural processes, or from the projected performance of engineered materials, but rather from social actions and human behaviors. Given that these uncertainties become overwhelming when consider the future only a few centuries from now, how far into the future is it useful for us to attempt to assess risks? Government regulators are currently grappling with this question as they rewrite regulations in order to accommodate radioactive wastes that have the potential for unacceptable and perpetual human health risks. This paper discusses the issues surrounding the period of performance expected from radioactive waste management practices, and outlines central conditions for soundly addressing controversial problems.

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