RADWASTE: A Reporter's Investigation of a Growing Nuclear Menace by Fred C. Shapiro

RADWASTE: A Reporter's Investigation of a Growing Nuclear Menace

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A wide-ranging but drab and long-winded layman's report. From visiting a number of sites, Shapiro details the quantities of ""radwaste"" (horrible word) now extant, what form the wastes take, and how radioactive they are, for each of the six principal categories: uranium mill tailings, high-level waste, commercial spent fuel, transuranics (artificially-produced heavier-than-air elements), low-level waste, and waste arising from the decontamination and decommissioning of power plants and ships. He then reviews the ""often hopelessly inadequate"" methods of storage and disposal (pooling behind clay dams, burial, storage under water, containment in steel or concrete vessels, or, in the case of the mill tailings, simple abandonment in open heaps). Also on the agenda: the problem of transporting nuclear wastes; present and proposed methods of containment, and of disposal. How much would it cost to dispose safely of all this waste? An estimate to solidify and bury defense high-level waste alone comes in at $30-50 billion. As a broad survey, factual enough; but Shapiro's consistent refusal to adopt a point of view--he declines either to support the nuclear industry or to get alarmed about the dangerous mess it's created--nullifies whatever momentum he manages to generate.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Random House