As nuclear energy makes further headway into the clean energy obsession throttling planet Earth, a darker question seems to run beneath it all: what do we do with the ugly byproduct of a nuclear reaction? Where do we place of strontium-91, barium-139, barium-140, and lanthanum-140 after they’ve become enthusiastically radioactive and will continue to be so at varying levels for the next hundred or so years?
The federal government is now looking into potential storage of nuclear waste on the U.S. Energy Department’s 890 square-mile preserve in eastern Idaho, which also houses the Idaho National Laboratories (INL)—one of the nation’s leading nuclear research facilities. And the waste they want to store isn’t just the radioactive result of a nuclear reaction—it’s culturally toxic and bedeviled waste from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which partially melted down in 1979 and ignited a cultural hallucination on the role of nuclear power in our energy grid. The Energy Department is pursuing an operating license that would run through 2039 and has repeatedly stated the project poses no threat to the surrounding environment and will be closely monitored in conjunction with INL.
This is not the first time the U.S. government has attempted to find a permanent home for nuclear waste on its own soil. Beginning in 1987, a deep storage repository was designated for construction as the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, roughly eighty miles northwest of Las Vegas. Originally designed to house 70,000 metric tons of waste, the project was immediately overwhelmed by political, environmental, and ethical opposition to the point that by 2011 the project was largely considered dead in the water. It remains so to this day.
Norway however, has long been light years ahead of the United States where waste storage is concerned. Unveiling the Onkalo project–1,710-foot labyrinth being constructed on a remote and uninhabited island, the massive structure is to be the world’s first deep geological repository for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel when it is completed.
While OTEK can’t force the U.S. government to follow Onkalo’s blueprint, we can lend our technology to the American nuclear industry. That’s why we became as Class 1E/Appendix B company and developed our New Technology Meters (NTM) and the Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) to aid the nuclear industry. With analog obsolescence coming to a head in the nuclear I&C rooms, the NTM and SSAM are designed specifically to replace old analogs wire by wire without retraining operators, incurring lengthy installation outages, and effectively combating cybersecurity expenses with C.S. Compliant (NTM) and C.S. Exempt (SSAM) designations. Whatever the future holds for the nuclear industry, OTEK plans to be there at every turn and every juncture, ready to bring our technology to bear and help create a more energy-conscious future.
For more information on our efforts to help the nuclear industry or any of our technology-driven product lines, please call us at 520-748-7900 or email our sales department at email@example.com