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The Road to Yucca Mountain

The Development of Radioactive Waste Policy in the United States

J. Samuel Walker (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN: 9780520260450
September 2009
$85.00, £62.95
In The Road to Yucca Mountain, J. Samuel Walker traces the U.S. government's tangled efforts to solve the technical and political problems associated with radioactive waste. From the Manhattan Project through the designation in 1987 of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a high-level waste repository, Walker thoroughly investigates the approaches adopted by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). He explains the growing criticism of the AEC's waste programs, such as the AEC's embarrassing failure in its first serious effort to build a high-level waste repository in a Kansas salt mine. Clearly and accessibly, Walker explains the issues surrounding deep geological disposal and surface storage of high-level waste and spent reactor fuel. He analyzes the equally complex and divisive question of fuel “reprocessing.” He weaves reliable research with fresh insights about nuclear science, geology, politics, and public administration, making this original and authoritative account an essential guide for understanding the continuing controversy over an illusive and emotional topic.
List of Illustrations

1. A Solvable Problem
2. A “Huge and Ever-Increasing Problem”
3. An “Atomic Garbage Dump” for Kansas
4. New Directions in Radioactive Waste Management
5. Progressing toward Stalemate
6. Commercial Low-Level Waste: A "Once Low Priority Matter"
7. The Transportation of Nuclear Waste
8. A Legislative “Solution”

Essay on Sources
J. Samuel Walker is the historian of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He is the author of Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective and Permissible Dose: A History of Radiation Protection in the Twentieth Century as well as Containing the Atom: Nuclear Regulation in a Changing Environment, 1963-1971, all from UC Press.
“A valuable account of the history/ongoing issues related to this significant problem. . . . Recommended.”—Choice
“[Walker’s] synthesis provides no easy answers to the problem of nuclear waste disposal, but rather explains in detail why the problem has remained unsolved for more than sixty years. . . . An excellent resource for anyone looking to know more about why the United States does not yet have a satisfactory nuclear waste disposal system.”—Enterprise & Society
“Engaging, concise, and disturbing. . . . [Walker] translates the issue of nuclear waste history into a contemporary topic to be discussed and understood as we approach a new nuclear power revival.”—Metascience
“No author could more expertly exhume the bones of this institutional history than Walker.”—Metascience
“Walker’s history of U.S. nuclear waste management provides a clear reminder of the potential pitfalls of disposal of this ignore these is to invite failure yet again.”—Journal Of American History
“Walker has demonstrated that there is an important place for public history in the scholarly arena. . . . The monograph is well-researched, objective, and informative.”—Technology And Culture
“Careful and thorough.”—
"Walker's thoughtful and detailed history of the technology and politics of the nuclear waste problem lucidly illustrates why, more than sixty years after the Dawn of the Atomic Age, we have yet to get any of the stuff into the ground safely and effectively, where it belongs. This book should be required reading for everyone, whether politician, bureaucrat or citizen."—Ronnie D. Lipschutz, author of Radioactive Waste: Politics, Technology and Risk

"Measured, informative, and well-argued, The Road to Yucca Mountain is typical Walker. One of the most knowledgeable historians on nuclear power has produced an essential work on a complex problem—What to do with radioactive waste? In setting the context on this controversial subject, Walker educates us on how we confront nuclear power as a viable option and its long-range implications."—Martin Melosi, author of Energy Metropolis

"Walker's fascinating account details the United States' 60-year search for radioactive waste solutions. Here scientists, policymakers, politicians, activists, and the public alternately clash and cooperate, and prospects for a solution wane and wax accordingly. In the end, after billions of dollars, years of hearings, and miles of tunnels, we're back at square one."—Richard Wolfson, author of Nuclear Choices: A Citizen's Guide to Nuclear Technology

Richard W. Leopold Prize, Organization of American Historians

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