by Ron Bourgoin
To get the American people to believe that burial of highly radioactive wastes in rock is a good idea, politicians every now and then will talk about the wonderful geologic repositories that are in operation in other parts of the world.
First of all, there are no rock repositories open anywhere.
Secondly, the first country to open a geologic repository more than likely will be Finland, due to open its granite site in 2020. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was supposed to be the world's first spent-fuel rod burial facility, but that is not on the horizon at this time.I don't know why Scandanavians insist on building high-level nuclear waste sites on the sea, but Finland's is on the Gulf of Bothnia, in the town of Eurajoki, on the country's west coast. The nearest large city is Rauma.
The Finnish parliament voted in 2001 to develop the granite site, awarding the contract to the Posiva Company. Work is in progress now to study how well the rock can contain the wastes. If all looks good to parliament in 2010, thumbs-up will be given to proceed to dynamite and drill tunnels, which, of course, will change the ability of the site to safely store wastes.
As I reported not long ago, the Swedes are building their repository near the Baltic Sea, in the town of Oskarsham, on Sweden's southeast coast. That site is being dynamited and drilled also, creating what could be a nasty situation. The waste from Sweden could leak and migrate south to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and Germany, whereas Finland's could make its way to Sweden. Not good!
Editor's note: To read prior op ed columns by Ron Bourgoin, put "Nuclear waste watch" in the search box on THE JOPLIN INDEPENDENT homepage.