High-level radioactive waste must be stored and isolated from the environment for a million years.
Such a storage facility does not currently exist. The NRWC asserts that keeping this waste on-site is the least risky option. The waste should be transported only once-from the reactor sites to an environmentally just and scientifically sound site for permanent isolation.
Irradiated fuel is first stored in structurally unprotected pools of water and then later transferred into dry casks. These casks are vulnerable to acts of malice because they are stored in close proximity to each other in the open air.
So, how can we minimize the risk and consequences of accidents, natural disasters, or acts of terrorism while storing this waste on-site?
Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS)
is a concept that aims to protect the public from the threats posed by the current vulnerable storage of nuclear waste.
To enhance safety, HOSS would
spread the casks across a larger land area with the casks placed 60-70 feet apart;
reinforce each waste canister with concrete and steel structures;
protect each structure (module) with mounds of concrete, steel, and gravel.
These modules would be designed to withstand a range of weapons, explosives, and attacks including anti-tank missiles, airliner impacts, and car bombs.
Hardened On-Site Storage allows high-level waste to be stored as close to the site of generation as possible and as safely as possible, thereby exposing fewer people to radiation through transport, accidents, or acts of terrorism.