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Moon Seen As Nuclear Waste Repository

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posted on Aug, 22 2002 @ 04:52 PM

As the debate rages over using the Yucca Mountain as a burial ground for thousands of tons of radioactive material, a better site for unwanted nuclear waste holds its mute vigil in the skies above the Nevada desert: the Moon.

After 20 years of study, last July President Bush signed a bill making Yucca Mountain the planned site to house 77,000 tons of nuclear refuse. The site is to be open for business by 2010, located in Nevada desert, 90 miles (150 kilometers) from that gambling Mecca, Las Vegas

Since its approval, politicians, scientists, lawyers, environmental activists, and protesting citizens have been locked in heated dispute over the $58 billion project.

Advocates of the plan say the repository site is safe. Radioactive materials can be responsibly and securely tucked away in the mountain for some 10,000 years.

However, others fear, among a list of worries, that transporting nuclear waste over city streets and state highways is asking for trouble, as well as being a tempting target for terrorists.

"No site for a long term, nuclear waste repository within Earth's biome or accessible to low-tech terrorist threat is acceptable," argues Sherwin Gormly, an environmental engineer for Tetra Tech EM Incorporated in Reno, Nevada.

Gormly contends that the waste issue is the single most important problem limiting nuclear power development. A revolutionary change, he said, is required to break the impasse.

"We need to seriously reconsider more advanced concepts, including repository options on the Moon," Gormly said.

MIRVing the Moon

In the past, thoughts about a lunar nuclear waste repository have come and gone.

A new twist in the Gormly plan is using off-the-shelf intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), warhead targeting technology, and a reusable suborbital launch vehicle. It's an idea whose time may have returned, he said, broaching the notion last month at a Return to the Moon workshop held in Houston, Texas, held by the Space Frontier Foundation.

The concept employs a low-cost, highly reliable suborbital space plane. Flying to high altitude, the piloted plane then dispatches an ICBM upper stage assembly. Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) hardware, guidance equipment, and modified reentry vehicles carrying a casks of plutonium or waste material top this stage, which ignites and speeds into space.

An internal targeting system within the reentry vehicles precisely places the casks of waste headlong onto an outbound lunar trajectory.

The target would be a small lunar crater with steep sides. In later years, the flight path of the casks could be aided by final guidance equipment installed on the crater rim. That will assure an even more accurate bulls-eye impact of the incoming waste-carrying containers.

One by one, the casks smack into the Moon. The soft deep lunar regolith in the impact area should ensure proper waste burial. Plowing into the lunar surface at high speed, the waste would be buried under several feet of glassified regolith, Gormly said.

The impact area would be highly contaminated, the environmental engineer said, so a clearly delineated repository area would be needed. "However, the problem of waste migration would be eliminated because the lunar surface has no hydrosphere."

Retrieval, reuse, reprocessing

The situation in Nevada is a classic case of the "Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) syndrome," Gormly said. Furthermore, the reality of the situation is that waste streams from medical sources and weapons grade plutonium production are also of concern.

"A solution outside of the biome and out of casual reach must be found," Gormly said.

"The lunar surface is a sterile, hard radiation environment with great geological stability and no potential to pollute the Earth biomea potential that is inevitable to all Earth sites due to groundwater," Gormly said. "NIMBY politics don't apply to the lunar surface at this time and can be avoided in the future by good planning and negotiation of beneficial use agreements," he added.

Once deposited on the Moon, nuclear materials would be of potential value. Access to the lunar repository site by future Moon dwellers could be regulated. Retrieval, reuse, even reprocessing of the nuclear material can enhance both lunar operations and further deep space commerce, Gormly speculated.

"The reality of the situation is that this material is a political liability today and a resource tomorrow," Gormly told

The development of a lunar waste repository is an off-world opportunity to develop positive political and social momentum. This proposal is simple, safe, and uses current off-the-shelf technology, Gormly said.

Not so fast

Gormly shouldn't be so quick to attempt to unload Earth's nuclear rubbish on our nearest neighbor, says Mike Duke, a lunar expert at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Co.

"This doesn't appear to be a practical proposal at the current state of technical development," Duke told "In the proposed configuration, it would essentially end lunar exploration."

Duke said that even the highest reliability attained by a space booster also comes with catastrophic launch failure probabilities. Then it's a matter of acceptable risk of how much nuclear material might come back at Earth.

Lastly, the impact of these nuclear waste-carrying casks on the Moon would not bury them in glass, Duke said. They would be distributed widely on the Moon, as impacts tend to include most of the impactor in the ejecta - the material tossed out from the high speed crash, he said.

"The Moon would quickly become off-limits to human exploration and development. If a technique for soft landing could be incorporated, this problem would be minimized; however, that is likely to be quite expensive," Duke said.

posted on Aug, 29 2002 @ 09:40 AM
they will never learn...
WHY DONT THEY SEND IT TO THE SUN?????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Aug, 29 2002 @ 02:55 PM
Sure, it sounds like a good idea, but heres a worrying counterpoint from Satirewire:

Reno, Nev. ( President Bush blasted a plan unveiled Thursday that calls for depositing nuclear waste on the Moon, arguing the radioactive material could turn the lunar surface into a vast, uninhabitable wasteland.

Theres something NASA wont tell you :p

posted on Aug, 29 2002 @ 03:04 PM
Who Kano, that's a nice site!!!

posted on Aug, 29 2002 @ 03:10 PM
Heh, the bloke who ran it just retired too, unfortunately.

posted on Aug, 30 2002 @ 12:29 PM
The uninhabitable wasteland?! No way! That could never happen! THINK OF THE WHALES!

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 01:52 AM
If they are going to shoot it into space, then shoot it into the Sun. I thought the reason that they haven't done this is because of a potential mishap in the atmosphere. Rockets aren't perfect yet.

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 11:22 AM
It would also be an extremely expensive way of doing things with our current level of technology, firing it into the sun that is.

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 11:28 AM
If you're prepared to send it to the moon then u should send it to the sun. It would be much cheaper because all you'd have to do is shoot it out of the atmosphere in the right direction. Sending it to the moon would involve not only that but somehow landing it on the moon. And besides it's still there; shooting it into the sun would destroy it forever ( in the form it is in anyway).

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 11:45 AM
Forget about sending it to the moon or the sun. I say just blast it into open space. does it really matter if we polute the cosmos with radioactive waste?

By the time any life-form runs into the stuff, the Universe will have likely already come to an end.

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 11:50 AM
You never know it might get pulled back to earth, if it's just floating aroundout there. It might be a one in a million chance but who knows.
It wouldn't cost anymore to point it toward the sun though. So why not ?

posted on Sep, 5 2002 @ 03:54 PM
Um, yes it would. Remember we are racing around the sun, not sitting motionless with respect to it. To fire something into the sun would take a whole lot more energy than to send it to the moon, as you have a massive velocity to lose with respect to the sun.

If you didn't lose enough, the payload would go into an elliptic orbit around the sun, with its aphelion(sp?) out at the orbit of earth, so theres a chance it could meet up again with earth sometime in the future.

posted on Sep, 7 2002 @ 08:09 PM

Originally posted by Kano

Theres something NASA wont tell you :p

"In Nevada, we'll know if the water's contaminated 'cause it will show up in tests," he said. "But on the Moon, we can't test it. So we'll never really know for sure."

And they called this " an argument ".


posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 01:47 AM
Heh, if you werent Belgian I'd be worried. :p

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 05:03 AM

Originally posted by Kano
Heh, if you werent Belgian I'd be worried. :p

Why ? Do you think it was a good argument ? He didn't say the truth...He cares about the Moon, but not about Earth ? I don't believe it.

A good argument is : " No, it's to much dangerous.What will we do if the rocket has a problem and fall somewhere on Earth ?

But " we can't measure the radioactivity on the Moon ", it's not an argument.It's a joke!

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 07:35 AM
You just keep digging yourself deeper and deeper dont you

You see, its on, hence one would assume it to be satire, unfortunately this concept obviously hasn't reached the lovely nation of Belgium yet.

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 03:55 PM

Originally posted by Kano
You just keep digging yourself deeper and deeper dont you

You see, its on, hence one would assume it to be satire, unfortunately this concept obviously hasn't reached the lovely nation of Belgium yet.

No, it's just not reach my eyes, that's all.
I didn't see it was "".

Now I understand my mistake, and why I was finding this statement completely absurd.

But you're speaking to much about Belgium, Kano. What's going on ? You don't like this country or the Belgians peoples ? It's not the first time that you take one of my point or error, to speak about my country in a way that I don't like. Often in a sarcastic way.

If you don't like me, you can tell it, don't worry, I'm a big boy. But don't speak about my country please.


[Edited on 8-9-2002 by ultra_phoenix]

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 08:23 PM
God humans are so #ing stupid...they have the tech to store the stuff on the moon, than they obviously have the tech to simply launch the sh!t into forever space, so why not do that? I live in AZ, making where I live a major crossing way for nuclear waste..............oh sh!t

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 08:38 PM
Did anyone ever see the episode of Futurama where a giant ball of garbage that was sent into space during the 21st century was coming back to Earth?

I say we keep our waste on our planet.

posted on Sep, 8 2002 @ 08:48 PM
yeah, but its just nuclear waste, something we can already control, not like an asteroid, if it were to return we'd be able to strike it out into space again no prob bob...

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