David G. Spak


The harnessing of nuclear power is the technological advance which best represents the ability of the human race to transform the environment for both good and bad. Nuclear power can be used either to destroy the earth or to improve greatly the quality of life for all persons. Attendant with this power is the problem of what to do with radioactive wastes left behind by the private and public uses of a technology not yet fifty years old. As wastes from nuclear power plants, government projects, and various fields of science continue to amass, attention is being focused increasingly on the earth's oceans as a potentially viable sink for these wastes. While other alternatives, such as burial in deep geological salt formations, are currently being developed, the full ramifications of these plans remain unknown. The problems presented by radioactive waste disposal are compounded because much of the radioactive waste currently created will remain a hazard, not just for a few generations, but for centuries. Thus, whatever options industry and the international community pursue, such alternatives must be safe for the human population and the environment.