Concern and Controversy
Decades of Nuclear Waste Accumulation
On Dec. 2, 1942, a team of scientists led by physicist Enrico Fermi produced the first controlled atomic reaction and launched the “nuclear age.” The products of nuclear technology, particularly nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation, have changed the world. They have also bequeathed a dubious legacy to future generations — 40 years of accumulated radioactive waste. The problem of nuclear waste disposal does not grab the headlines as often as nuclear weapons proliferation or nuclear power plant safety issues.1 Nonetheless, nuclear waste is one of the most perplexing environmental problems of our time. After almost four decades, the United States still lacks a national plan for nuclear waste disposal.
The first decades of the nuclear age were marked ...