The ‘forever’ part of nuclear energy | Columns |

Cleanup at the Idaho National Laboratory leaves a lot beneath the surface. It is important to understand the “forever” contamination sites the INL’s cleanup is leaving behind. Ignoring the spent nuclear fuel and calcine that will supposedly be shipped out of state some day, there are roughly 55 “forever” radioactively contaminated sites of various sizes and about 30 “forever” asbestos, mercury or military ordnance sites.The areas contaminated with long-lived radioisotopes that are not being cleaned up will require institutional controls to claim that the “remediation” is protective of human health. People must be prevented from coming into contact with subsurface soil or drinking water near some of these sites — forever.The Department of Energy downplays the mess and usually doesn’t specify how long the controls are required when the time frame is over thousands of years; they just say “indefinite.” In some cases, the DOE earlier had claimed that these sites would be available for human contact in a hundred or so years. You can find a summary that includes the “forever” sites at

Source: The ‘forever’ part of nuclear energy | Columns |