DOE Panel disagrees on Yucca Theory


  • Susan Bush


A scientific panel was unable to reach a consensus on the hydrotectonic theory acting at Yucca Mountain, Nev., put forth by Department of Energy geologist Jerry Szymanski. The panel's reports, reflecting majority and minority opinions, were released late last year and form one part of DOE's overall site characterization of Yucca Mountain as a storage site for high-level nuclear waste. DOE has also asked the National Academy of Sciences to review Syzmanski's theory and will incorporate its results into the site assessment.

The five-person DOE panel convened early in 1990 to begin its review of Szymanski's concepts, data, and interpretations laid out in his 1989 report, “Conceptual Considerations of the Yucca Mountain Groundwater System with Special Emphasis on the Adequacy of this System to Accommodate a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository.” After meeting several times throughout the year in the field and with Szymanski and realizing there were conflicting opinions within the review group, the external panel decided in December 1990 to prepare majority and minority reports. DOE also asked the panel to make recommendations to the agency on further studies.