Time is both the ally of high-level nuclear waste (HLNW) managers and the enemy. It is the ally because the radioactivity in elements and isotopes decreases with age, making the waste progressively less dangerous to human health and safety and the environment. This rate of radioactive decline varies, in some cases diminishing by half (the half life) in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. In other cases the decay process takes centuries or hundreds of thousands of years before the wastes are safe for human contact. The problem as now conceptualized for HLNW managers is simple to state if not easy to achieve. The HLNW needs to be secured in some fashion until it decays, by virtue of its physical nature, to safe levels. Another possible future solution, not currently available, might be to change the ~~ructure of HLNW through high-technology processing and thus decompose the waste into units with different and less lengthy radioactivity. Learning whether this processing is a future option will require patience and generous amounts of time for research.
Preface -- Acknowledgments -- Overview of a Troubled Program -- Nuclear Waste Policy Act and Its Amendments -- Complexity and Scientific Uncertainty: Doubts About Yucca Mountain -- Public Attitudes Toward Nuclear Waste Issues: Gambling with the Quality of Life in Nevada -- Governmental and Institutional Failures -- International Experiences -- Recommendations -- Problems with High-Level Nuclear Waste and a Little History -- The High-Level Nuclear Waste Dilemma -- Geologic Disposal -- Failings of the Repository Program -- Policies and Politics -- Principles of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act -- Focus on Legitimacy -- Violation of Ethical Principles -- Unraveling of the High-Level Nuclear Waste Program -- Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments: An Intergovernmental Crisis -- Nevada's Response -- Complexity and Uncertainty -- The Problem of Complexity -- The Problem of Uncertainty -- Uncertainty at Yucca Mountam -- A New Management Approach -- Public Responses to High-Level Nuclear Wastes Opposing Models for Managing Nuclear Technologies -- Studies of Perceptions and Social Behaviors -- Stigma and the Nevada Economy -- Forecasting Behavior Using Imagery -- Origins of Public Responses to Nuclear Technologies -- International Experiences -- Waste Management in Five Countries -- Generic Lessons -- Where Do We Go from Here? -- Reevaluate the Commitment to Underground Geologic Disposal -- Use Interim Storage Facilities -- Evaluate More than One Site -- Employ a Voluntary Site Selection Process -- Negotiate Agreements and Compensation Packages -- Acknowledge and Accept the Legitimacy of Public Concerns -- Guarantee Stringent Safety Standards -- Restore Credibility to the Waste Disposal Program -- Update on the High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository Siting -- Problems and Recommendations, 103 -- The Department of Energy's Response: The Proposed Program Approach -- Summarizing the Situation -- Glossary -- Bibliography -- About the Book and Authors -- Author Index -- Subject Index.