A Tale of Two Waste Sites
Once upon a time, a consulting geologist was contracted to evaluate a site for a low-level radioactive waste facility. The geologist summarized the regional and site-specific geology and hydrology. He discussed potential consequences depending on how the facility would be operated. If waste containers maintained their integrity and trenches were covered, the site had a high probability of functioning safely and effectively. Unfortunately, the tale of that waste site is fictional.
The non-fictional waste site has the same opening chapter, but the operational constraints outlined by the geologist were not followed. Low-level radioactive wastes and hazardous wastes were co-disposed in 52 trenches. Waste containers were breached as they settled, and precipitation collected in the trenches. Leachate flowed from the site, eventually daylighting on hillsides and in creeks. We’ll talk about how more sites can have happy endings when the story the geology tells is heeded.
Green, Deborah, "A Tale of Two Waste Sites" (2019). Public Lecture Series. 155.