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News Picks : Salt beds may provide storage for commercial nuclear waste

By: Physics Today
10 February 2014
New York Times: The US Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been storing nuclear waste from weapons programs since 1999. The project involves digging large underground rooms in salt beds in New Mexico. The rooms are filled with containers holding plutonium waste, and then the salt is left to settle. At a rate of six inches per year, the salt seals the waste away for what program administrators hope will be millions of years. Currently, the project is only accepting plutonium waste from nuclear weapons production, because it is less radioactive, though longer-lived, than commercial nuclear waste. However, the success of the project, which is still to be determined, may provide a solution for storing commercial waste since the Yucca Mountain storage facility plan has been scrapped.


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