Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Can we use Yucca Mountain as a geologic laboratory?

The President's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future met a few days for the first time with a objective to consider "all alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense used nuclear fuel, high-level waste, and materials derived from nuclear activities," in the aftermath of the decision not to develop Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste facility.

But that leaves the nation with a $10 billion underground facility that is probably the most well characterized and analyzed volume of earth the planet.

Are we going to walk away from this tremendous investment, or can we convert the extensive tunnels and facilities into a world-class underground laboratory?   

NSF has invested money into South Dakota's Homestake gold mine to convert it into a Deep Underground Science & Engineering Lab (DUSEL) for physics, biology, geoscience studies.    Couldn't we take similar advantage of a site that is designed for long term monitoring of environmental factors?

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