James Conca, Geochemist: Yucca Mountain has always been political, from its initial choice to its recent death. The problem this time is that most of our high-level nuclear waste is no longer high-level. And most scientists agree we shouldn’t dispose of spent nuclear fuel until we reuse it in our new reactors that are designed to burn it. Besides, the highly-fractured, variably saturated, dual-porosity volcanic tuff at Yucca Mountain with highly oxidizing groundwater, was the wrong rock to begin with, causing the cost to skyrocket and the technical hurdles to keep mounting. Anti-nuclear activists have used Yucca Mt. to oppose the new generation of nuclear power plants by saying we have no place to put the waste. Unfortunately, everyone has focused on the political and legal aspects without understanding the science. And we know what happens when Human Law runs into Natural Law – Natural Law wins every time.
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