Nuclear waste disposal: Why the case for deep boreholes is … full of holes


deep isolation screen shot
Photo credit: 
An illustration of a deep borehole for nuclear waste disposal, from Deep Isolation’s concept animation video ( It would take several hundred such holes to bury all US nuclear waste from civilian reactors.

In the budding days of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump idled his days away, launching random tweets about unrelated issues. One such issue was nuclear waste disposal: “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain…my Administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches – I’m confident we can get it done!”

After this particular proclamation, the nuclear expert community was left scratching its collective head. Does the president support Yucca Mountain as an eventual nuclear waste repository, or does he not? And, more puzzling, what “innovative approaches” for nuclear waste does he have in mind? Maybe he was thinking about the “waste eating” advanced reactors promoted by the US Energy Department and the private sector; maybe he was thinking about reprocessing spent nuclear fuel; or maybe he was thinking about deep boreholes for permanent waste storage.


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