The alternatives to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Illuminating answers to environmental questions.
April 15 2008 8:11 AM

Not in My Back Yucca

What are our alternatives for storing radioactive waste?

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Many in the American nuclear-power industry favor the development of UREX+, a recycling process that ostensibly addresses these concerns. The end products could then be used in advanced burner reactors. But UREX+ has plenty of critics (PDF), who contend that the process is neither as clean nor as  proliferation-resistant as it's cracked up to be.

Perhaps our best hope for resolving all this he-said, she-said rancor is the development of nuclear fusion plants, which will theoretically produce waste that remains extraordinarily lethal for mere decades, as opposed to millennia. Hey, you never know—though the Lantern puts the odds at slightly less than those of a robotic horse winning the Kentucky Derby.

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Is there an environmental quandary that's been keeping you up at night? Send it to ask.the.lantern@gmail.com, and check this space every Tuesday.

Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and a columnist for Gizmodo. His first book, Now the Hell Will Start, is out now.