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WASHINGTON, DC — Alongside rivers and lakes, on ocean shores and tidal bays, nearly 63,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste — which remains dangerous for longer than recorded history — sits in “temporary” storage. In some cases, it’s been there for decades. And it’s almost certain to remain for decades longer, scattered around 33 states.
Some of that waste is squeezed into small pools housed inside flimsy buildings; some sits outside in storage containers never intended to be permanent. In both instances, the spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear power plants is exceedingly vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks.
Like so many of society’s waste problems, out-of-sight, out-of-mind has become a de facto “solution” — except to the thousands of Americans who live near these high-level waste storage sites. I am one of them. I reside near two spent fuel pools, one in Massachusetts, at the now-shuttered Yankee Rowe reactor, and another at the troubled Vermont Yankee reactor, only 16 miles away. Together, these pools hold more than 90 million curies of radioactivity. (The bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki released 1 million curies of radiation.)
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