A National Research Council (NRC) panel has endorsed a plan for a proposed underground military nuclear waste disposal facility located on a site near Carlsbad, N.M. The Department of Energy (DOE) asked NRC to evaluate the geologic suitability of the site.
The NRC panel, chaired by Frank L. Parker of Vanderbilt University, concluded in its final report that “the important issues about the geology of the site have been resolved…” Those issues include the purity and volume of salt, the absence of brine pockets at the repository horizon in the areas excavated, the absence of breccia pipes and of toxic gases, and the nearly horizontal bedding of the salt. Thick underground salt beds have long been considered prime candidates for nuclear waste repositories. The existence of salt beds is believed to indicate long-term stability. In addition, the salt is flexible and will seal cracks and discontinuities over time.