The founders of Deep Isolation met with several members of the NGO community in Washington D.C. on September 11. The purpose of this meeting was for the founders to present their concept for disposal of nuclear waste, to respond to any questions posed by the participants, and to engage in a discussion of the issues raised.
Key aspects of Deep Isolation’s technology were discussed, including the type of canister that will hold the fuel assemblies, the emplacement method, and the issue of retrieval. There were several questions about the geological medium for disposal and the type of environment that is expected at depth with regard to water and oxygen. Of particular interest to the group was why a horizontal configuration was chosen and why that is preferable to a vertical shaft or other approaches.
Issues of licensing and standards were also discussed, and the founders were queried as to how they plan to go about licensing and finding a site(s).
Discussion also focused on the importance of community involvement and consent. A point was raised by one of the participants that stressed the need for as much community control as possible at the local, regional and state levels, with the assurance that work would stop until an issue is resolved. It was emphasized that priority should be given to a thoughtful stakeholder engagement plan and that the issue of nuclear waste is not just about the technology employed, but also public acceptance and the right of the public to understand all of the implications involved.
Many of the suggestions the NGO representatives made at this meeting are being incorporated into Deep Isolation’s business plan.