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National Academy of Sciences conclusions re: DOE legacy waste sites

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What does the National Academy of Sciences have to say about DOE's 'Long-term Environmental Stewardship' program for its legacy waste sites?

Contamination has already migrated off some sites and there is a potential for this happening at more contaminated sites.

  • It is not known what the long-term behavior of contaminants in the environment will be if the systems devised to contain it disappear or fail.
  • Complete elimination of unacceptable risks to people and the environment will not be achieved now or in the foreseeable future.
  • The government can try to keep certain areas off limits, but it does not have the technology, money or management techniques to prevent contamination from spreading.
  • Without constant attention stewardship measures imposed today are not likely to remain effective for as long as residual contamination presents risks.
  • "Stewardship" (covering waste with dirt and instituting institutional controls) of waste sites will be difficult if not impossible to achieve.
  • At many sites hazardous wastes will remain posing risks to people and the environment for tens or even thousands of years.
  • No plan developed today is likely to remain protective for the duration of the hazards.

For the full report:

National Academy of Sciences:

Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites

To order: National Academies Press or 1-888-624-8373 in the US