Expert Discusses Nuclear Waste Dangers and Disposal Options

Blog by Deep Isolation Staff, June 10, 2020

Expert Discusses Nuclear Waste Dangers and Disposal Options

We’re proud to present the debut episode of Nuclear Waste: The Whole Story, an interview with Dr. Arjun Makhijani, an electrical and nuclear engineer with decades of experience in the nuclear waste field. 

We hope this series will help demystify some of the issues surrounding nuclear waste because we know it’s not something everyone understands or is comfortable discussing. Nevertheless, we have a social responsibility to foster a dialogue that touches upon all sides of the story.  

In this episode, “Nuclear Waste Disposal Difficulties Plague the Industry,” Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and Deep Isolation Advisor David Hoffman talks to Makhijani, President of Science Matters, LLC, to frame the problem and explore solutions.

Arjun Makhijani a Widely Respected Expert

We chose to lead off the series with Makhijani’s interview because of his extensive knowledge and because he speaks so candidly about why one should care about permanently disposing of nuclear waste.

Nuclear waste expert Arjun Makhijani.
Dr. Arjun Makhijani

In fact, Deep Isolation commissioned an in-depth report from Makhijani that culminated in a more than 130-page analysis of the history of U.S. nuclear waste disposal that explores even the most far-fetched options for disposing of spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

While Makhijani doesn’t believe there’s a completely “safe” solution for permanently containing nuclear waste, he agrees with the general scientific consensus that the best option is deep geologic disposal.

“Decades of analysis, review, research, and real-world events have shown that deep geologic disposal poses risks that are orders of magnitude smaller than any other approach for long-term spent-fuel management,” he wrote in his paper.

You can listen to this interview and others on our website or subscribe to the series on your favorite player. Watch the videos on our YouTube playlist.

The opinions of the subjects interviewed do not represent Deep Isolation’s position on the matters discussed. Have a suggestion for someone we should interview? Email us at Learn more at

“Without listening and respect there can be no solution.” — Elizabeth Muller, Deep Isolation CEO

At Deep Isolation we believe that listening is one of the most important elements of creating a successful nuclear waste disposal program. A core company value is to seek out and listen to different perspectives on the matters of nuclear waste and safe disposal solutions.  

What better way is there to listen than to collect as much wisdom as possible into one place? That is why we created a new podcast and vlog series, Nuclear Waste: The Whole Story. This series features interviews with experts and stakeholders who’ve been intimately involved in many aspects of the nuclear waste management world, representing decades of experience that has given them invaluable insights. We intentionally are choosing interview subjects who may have vastly differing opinions from one another and from us.

This issue really does affect us all.  In the U.S., approximately 1-in-3 Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear waste storage facility.  Across the globe, roughly 490,000 metric tons of accumulated waste sit waiting for disposal. Such storage facilities were never meant to be a permanent resting place for high-level spent nuclear fuel. While solutions have been pursued for decades, to date one has yet to be operationalized.

Nuclear Waste: The Whole Story Logo

The reasons for this are complex and should be explored because this problem impacts our lives — all of us on this planet now and future generations. I feel it’s important to understand the challenges we all face when it comes to storing and disposing of this radioactive waste, but I also know it’s not an easy topic to talk about. Our goal is to piece together some relevant and sometimes opposing perspectives to bring you a more informed sense of Nuclear Waste: The Whole Story.

Episodes At-a-Glance

“Nuclear Waste Disposal Difficulties Plague the Industry.” Arjun Makhijani, an electrical and nuclear engineer and President of Science Matters LLC, speaks colorfully and candidly about the weaknesses of various nuclear waste disposal and storage methods.

“Disposal Impasse Impacts the Future of Next Generation Reactors.” Rod McCullum,  Senior Director, Used Fuel and Decommissioning, Nuclear Energy Institute, offers an insider’s perspective on commercial nuclear waste disposal and explains why any failure to solve this problem could threaten the development of the next generation of nuclear energy reactors.

“Community Consent is Key to Waste Disposal.” Thomas Webler is a research fellow at the Social and Environmental Research Institute and an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Keene State College. He explains the importance of the concept of community consensus when it comes to issues such as nuclear waste disposal.

“Temporary Waste Storage Costs Keep Rising.” (Coming in July) James Taylor, General Manager of Bechtel’s Environmental Division of the Nuclear, Security, Environmental Global Business Unit, discusses the immense costs of temporary nuclear waste storage.

There are many ways to watch or listen to these interviews: Watch or listen to the first three episodes now on our website or subscribe to the audio on your favorite player through Apple, Spotify, or Google. Or just subscribe to our YouTube channel, where there is a playlist with all of the episodes.

An important note: While, yes, Deep Isolation is producing this series, any opinions expressed by either the interviewers or their subjects do not represent our official position.

In fact, we’d love to hear from you! Who do you think we should interview next? What questions about nuclear waste would you like answered? Let us know by sending an email to

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