Monitoring technologies for ocean disposal of radioactive waste

by Mark B. Triplett, Kenneth A. Solomon, Robert C. Tyce, Charles B. Bishop

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The United States discontinued the ocean disposal of low-level radioactive waste (LLW) in 1970. Subsequent monitoring studies of major ocean disposal sites by the Environmental Protection Agency have shown no harmful effects. The United States and other countries are studying the feasibility of using deep sea geologic formations to permanently isolate high-level radioactive waste (HLW). The deep sea environment, while remote, poses problems for the technology required to monitor the impact of past or future radioactive waste disposal. This report examines technologies appropriate for monitoring: existing LLW disposal sites; future disposal sites for LLW; and future disposal sites for HLW. The report highlights the technologies that must be developed to provide sufficient monitoring capabilities should the ocean waste disposal option be selected. Only monitoring technologies are considered, including physical, chemical, biological, ecological methods, and support systems.

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