As the United States' nuclear waste buildup becomes larger, the need for a permanent storage facility becomes more urgent. One proposed site is in the Yucca Mountains of Nevada. This makes many Nevadans uneasy, as visions of three-legged babies and phosphorescent people come to mind. This is an unfounded worry, as many reasons prove. In fact, the Yucca Mountains provide an ideal site for a permanent underground nuclear waste facility in the U.S.
While the Yucca Mountains are the best site we have found as of yet, this procedure will cost a huge amount of taxpayer dollars. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the total cost of its high-level waste management program at $25-35 billion. Completing the scientific investigation and licensing of the Yucca Mountain site is expected to cost $6-7 billion alone. At the end of 1993, total nuclear waste fund expenditures through the end of the year were nearly 3.7 billion. Very little of this money comes from individual investors. If a retrievable facility (one where the casks of spent fuel can be retrieved later) is built, this will be a good deal more. Other disposal types, such as sub- seabed and space disposal may prove to be cheaper at a later time.
This is a cause for concern, but there are a greater amount of reasons to further and eventually finish the Yucca Mountain Project. One is the desert climate naturally occurring in the western United States. The weather is dry and warm and their are very few natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Also, this part of the nation has a lower water table than the rest of the country. This reduces the risk of water contamination in case of a breach.
This is only one safety cushion that the proposed site provides. There are several more. All of these factors add up to a relatively stable environment. But will it be stable enough? If a permanent site is constructed, it will have to remain...