Good Yucca Mountain: The Geology Of Yucca Mountain And Suitability For Nuclear Waste Storage Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Disaster, Atomic Bomb, Waste, Energy, Nuclear Energy, Volcano, Waste Management, Disposal

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/10

Yucca Mountain is a geological formation in southern Nevada—it is located in the desert area that is northwest of Las Vegas (Academic Emporia, 2015). The mountain lies in Death Valley, which is one of the hottest, driest places on earth; this basin is the largest in the region, and it was chosen specifically for this reason. Yucca Mountain’s most famous contribution to scientific research is the fact that the mountain has been used for a number of years as a waste site for radioactive and nuclear waste.
Even later than the Cambrian explosion, there were carbonate rocks deposited on the site, and then later, igneous and volcanic rock was deposited on the site. According to the Academic Emporium (2015), the “end result” of the entire process that formed Yucca Mountain from the beginnings until today is an “uplifted ridge of alternating layers of welded and non-welded silicic volcanic tuffs” (Academic Emporium, 2015).
The rock that lies on the newest layer of the mountain—in the case of Yucca Mountain, the youngest rock laid down on the mountain is igneous and volcanic rock—helps shape the nature of the mountain. The remote nature of the mountain almost certainly played a significant role in the choice that was made to use Yucca Mountain as a dump site for nuclear waste, but the volcanic activity and ash that had been compacted into stone over millions of years also played a very significant role in the decision (MacFarlane, 2003). Because Yucca Mountain’s volcanic rock can be described as both “welded” and “non-welded,” it retains some properties that are very unique.
In the parts of the mountain where the rock is defined as “welded,” the rock is very dense and loses its porousness. However, in other parts of the mountain, the rock is non-welded, and therefore retains the porous nature of volcanic rock. This allows water seepage through parts of the mountain, but not through other parts of the mountain; combined with the remote nature of the mountain, the fact that the outer layer of rock essentially seals the mountain makes it an extremely good candidate for nuclear waste deposits, especially since disposal of nuclear waste has to be done extremely carefully (MacFarlane, 2003).
Some people believe that Yucca Mountain is a piece of American geology that has very little stability, and is not suitable for use by the American government insofar as waste is concerned. Many people are very concerned with the difficulty and the danger of disposing of nuclear waste; this is completely understandable. However, the process of choosing a disposal site was not one that the Nuclear Energy Institute and associated scientists took lightly (Nuclear Energy Institute, 2015). Before the site was chosen, it was researched heavily to determine that the best place for the nuclear waste in need of disposal was, indeed, Yucca Mountain and not some other site (Nuclear Energy Institute, 2015).
Yucca Mountain has a number of benefits insofar as nuclear waste is concerned. The site is incredibly remote, and the fact that it is seated in the heart of one of the least hospitable basins in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts (Nuclear Energy Institute, 2015). The area is geologically stable, because the land is so arid; there is little rain, and little likelihood that the rain that does fall in this region of the country will allow for seepage or spillage in any real capacity (Nuclear Energy Institute, 2015). According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (2015), Yucca Mountain “is one of the few locations in the world where containers storing radioactive materials can be isolated from the environment by 1,000 feet of dry rock below ground The area receives only seven inches of annual rainfall. Ninety percent of this rainfall runs off the side of the mountain ridge, is absorbed by vegetation or evaporates” (Nuclear Energy Institute, 2015). The lack of porousness in the rock outside the mountain also contributes to the safety of the site; there is little to demonstrate that using this site poses any kind of threat to the people of New Mexico or Nevada. Indeed, research also seems to suggest that utilizing Yucca Mountain as a disposal site is one of the safest options available for radioactive waste.

References

Academic Emporia. (2015). Yucca Mountain. Retrieved 7 March 2015, from http://academic.emporia.edu/schulmem/hydro/TERM%20PROJECTS/Sedlacek/links/geology.htm
MacFarlane, A. (2003). Underlying Yucca Mountain: The Interplay of Geology and Policy in Nuclear Waste Disposal. Soc Stud Sci, 33(5), 783-807. doi:10.1177/0306312703335006
Nuclear Energy Institute. (2015). Nuclear Energy Institute - Yucca Mountain Myths And Facts Opponents Distort Or Ignore Research. Retrieved 7 March 2015, from http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/Yucca-Mountain-Myths-and-Facts-Opponents-Distort-o

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WePapers. (2020, December, 10) Good Yucca Mountain: The Geology Of Yucca Mountain And Suitability For Nuclear Waste Storage Essay Example. Retrieved June 15, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-yucca-mountain-the-geology-of-yucca-mountain-and-suitability-for-nuclear-waste-storage-essay-example/
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