Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Take Home Exam

I miss my old days of teaching, although I do not miss the time and effort required in grading exams and papers.  However, I often learned great things from my student's responses.
For Nuclear Waste 101, here is your mid-term exam, posed by Forbes.
Remember, that what we're talking about is high level waste (spent fuel) that is highly radioactive and puts out radiation and heat; that if we were to put it into 12 inch canisters, there would be some 10,000+???? of these canisters, requiring careful packaging, transportation, and handling; and that we do not yet have the technology to drill 12 inch bore holes miles into the earth; nor the technology or materials to encase the radioactive for eons.  Do not consider low-level wastes, decommissioning wastes, uranium mine tailings, etc.
This stuff has to be isolated from the environment for a minimum of 10,000 years...a long time.  Be sure to consider the seven characteristic criteria listed, that are commonly deemed as necessary in the scientific protocol.  Also keep in mind the problems at Hanford; WIPP in New Mexico; Barnwell, South Carolina (reported today: http://www.wltx.com/story/news/local/2014/03/31/tritium-plume-barnwell-site/7050761/); Paducah, Kentucky, etc.etc,etc....even though these sites deal with low-level and intermediate wastes, and not high level spent fuel.  What concerns might you have about impacts in the future, should your choice fail to meet its objective.
And finally, try to estimate the dollar costs involved in your decision, and who/how this would be all be paid for, and a timeline for this to be done.
Your exam is due in my box by 5pm, Friday.  After I have graded it, I will send it off for an un-biased second grading by Fox News. 
Good Luck!

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