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Chapter Seven New Opportunities and Deep Ocean Technologies for Assessing the Feasibility of Sub-Seabed High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal: The Application of 21st Century Oceanography to Solving Outstanding Problems

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Chapter Summary

The sub-seabed disposal (SSD) of high level radioactive waste (HLRW) program achieved considerable success in identifying promising ocean floor sites that could, with proper engineering and scientific evaluation, be technically feasible. The program also conducted a suite of preliminary scientific baseline studies that would inform both modeling and subsequent in situ experiments. A renewed interest in SSD options is especially relevant in light of significant technological and engineering advances in methods for understanding deep-ocean chemical and biological processes, geophysical monitoring, seafloor instrumentation, deep-ocean drilling and ocean floor observatories. This chapter presents summary of historical data related to science programs involved in SSD up until 1987, key research that remains to be accomplished and how 21st century oceanographic techniques and seafloor observatory programs provide significant opportunities for testing viability of SSD for HLRW. The synergy and links between technology development and social change will continue well into this century and beyond.

Keywords: high level radioactive waste (HLRW); in situ experiments; oceanographic techniques; sub-seabed disposal (SSD)



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