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Thread: Why not store nuclear waste at the Bikini Atoll?

  1. #1 Why not store nuclear waste at the Bikini Atoll? 
    Time Lord
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    I mean... it's not like the place hasn't already been hit a few times with nukes. There's not really an NBY issue either, because nobody lives there to begin with anymore. I know the natives kind of want to move back, so I guess there's that, but it's highly unlikely the island would ever be safe for them to do so. They should just charge rent.


    Bikini Atoll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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  3. #2  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Hmmm depends on teh containment methodology that is used.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Absolutely not!

    Long term storage requires three things.
    1. Geological stability. Bikini atoll is not that stable.
    2. Highly arid conditions to reduce corrosion and transport of radioactive material by water. Anyone think an atoll is arid?
    3. Lack of people. The Micronesian traditional owners of Bikini Atoll are agitating to return home. The atoll was basically stolen from them by the US military and they want it back!

    I can suggest two places which meet the criteria above. Some parts of Australia and some parts of southern Africa. In both those places, there are abandoned open cast mines, which are essentially enormous holes in the ground, ideal for long term storage of nuclear waste. In Australia, there are areas 1000 kms from the nearest sizeable town, and in parched desert, and in an area that is a million years from the slightest earthquake tremor or volcanic activity. It is only stupid politics that stop the Ozzies from selling storage space for billions of dollars!
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Absolutely not!

    Long term storage requires three things.
    1. Geological stability. Bikini atoll is not that stable.
    2. Highly arid conditions to reduce corrosion and transport of radioactive material by water. Anyone think an atoll is arid?
    3. Lack of people. The Micronesian traditional owners of Bikini Atoll are agitating to return home. The atoll was basically stolen from them by the US military and they want it back!
    If they're not willing to accept millions of dollars in leiu of a small amount of island front property, I think they're just whiners. They're not faced with starvation, genocide, or even the barest possibility of being unable to afford tickets to see their favorite concert, so I'd have to say their problems figure pretty low on the world's priority list right now.

    Besides, the US government is free to seize any American citizen's land it wants within its own territories, so long as they are given just compensation for the value of the land. If we seize their land in a similar manner, we would not be treating those people any worse than we treat ourselves.


    I can suggest two places which meet the criteria above. Some parts of Australia and some parts of southern Africa. In both those places, there are abandoned open cast mines, which are essentially enormous holes in the ground, ideal for long term storage of nuclear waste. In Australia, there are areas 1000 kms from the nearest sizeable town, and in parched desert, and in an area that is a million years from the slightest earthquake tremor or volcanic activity. It is only stupid politics that stop the Ozzies from selling storage space for billions of dollars!
    The advantage of the bikinis is that, since it's an island, protecting the waste from terrorists would be amazingly easy. Just station a few naval vessels in the area, and don't let anybody land on the island without authorization. Also, if we wanted to reprocess, we could do it on boats, so even in the very worst imaginable scenario of a meltdown, all that would need to be done is abandon ship and sink the boat.

    If a leak does occur, then it would have to be a huge leak before anyone would be harmed by it. The ocean can dilute any small amount of contaminants before they reach a civilized area. The possibility of having the wind carry contaminants a long distance would require that wind to blow over a lot of ocean without depositing its contents anywhere along the way. So basically the same things that made it a good nuclear test site make it a good place to contain accidents. And aren't accidents what everyone is afraid of?
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Kojax

    There is little chance of terrorists trying to take waste from an Australian or southern African dump either. For a start, it cannot be used to make a bomb. It might be used as a poison, but there are a lot easier ways to get poison than raiding something half the world away from the target for terrorism. Safer for the terorist to handle too.

    The Bikini idea is a no goer.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    2. Highly arid conditions to reduce corrosion and transport of radioactive material by water. Anyone think an atoll is arid?
    I looked it up. The atol averages more than 60 inches of rain per year; that's wet.
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  8. #7  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Not to mention the typhoons that would sweep across the area every other year or so.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  9. #8  
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    I think the problem for finding a viable waste site is not choosing a perfect one. It's choosing one that adequately calms peoples' fears. People won't be persuaded by telling them the site is dry, geologically stable, and the containers are made of indestructible fiberglass. They're not afraid of the material being poorly stored in general. They're afraid the eggheads are going to screw up, and make a mistake. All of the assurances I've heard so far are "assuming we never screw up" type assurances.

    Bikini Atoll's advantage is that we can't hardly screw up any worse than we already have. It's a former nuclear test site. Adequately storing the materials will be logistically more difficult, certainly, but also more accident-proof.


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  10. #9  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    eggheads??????? say what?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  11. #10  
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    eggheads??????? say what?
    I'm talking about politics. The overwhelming majority of the population is not in the top 10% of the IQ bracket, and therefore does not appreciate the subtleties of the situation.

    All they see is:

    1) - Smart people say it's safe to put nuclear stuff in a mountain.
    2) - Smart people are often wrong about important things.
    3) - Probably those smart people will make the situation sufficiently complicated for themselves that it gets out of hand, and a mistake happens.
    4) - Nuclear mistakes always create really big problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

    I can suggest two places which meet the criteria above. Some parts of Australia and some parts of southern Africa. In both those places, there are abandoned open cast mines, which are essentially enormous holes in the ground, ideal for long term storage of nuclear waste. In Australia, there are areas 1000 kms from the nearest sizeable town, and in parched desert, and in an area that is a million years from the slightest earthquake tremor or volcanic activity. It is only stupid politics that stop the Ozzies from selling storage space for billions of dollars!
    My parents were living in Missoula Montana when Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington State in 1980. A massive cloud of ash somehow managed to blow all the way over from Washington and land on them, an outcome that I'm sure most of the residents of the area would not have anticipated or planned for.


    Days of ash: Missoula remembers St. Helens blast


    Clearly it's not the exact same problem. In a worst case scenario, the wind would only be carrying a small amount of isotopes around. However it doesn't really take all that much to create problems. The ocean is much better at absorbing those kinds of things than the land is.
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  12. #11  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Heres the thing, you dont NEED to be in anywhere near the top 10% of the IQ bracket. Its a decade of stereotyping that smart people are out of touch that has lead to that perception among a lot of people when it is clearly wrong. Change that perception, rather then trying to pander to it and things will get accomplished.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  13. #12  
    Time Lord
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    I think you're mistaking anti-elitism, and political correctness for a genuine reality. Of course some people are a great deal smarter than others, at least in terms of specialized forms of ability, like math skills, or memory. There's also EQ, which probably determines success in life more than IQ anyway, but people without a lot of IQ don't have an easy time knowing how the numbers translate into reality. You can tell them a given site is 1000 km away from civilization, hasn't had an earthquake in 50,000 years, and gets .05 cm rain per year. All they're really going to understand is that the distance is less than infinity, there is some chance of an earthquake, and the structure will need to account for rainfall.

    Putting things in perspective is a mathematical skill. An unbelievable number of people fail to get their college degree because of the requirement to pass Algebra 2 these days. I've met a few of them, even tried to tutor them so they would pass. It was like trying to pull nails out of a board with my teeth. Some people just can't get that stuff.
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