The spatial and temporal distribution of risks associated with low level radioactive waste disposal.
AuthorThompson, Philip Blinn.
KeywordsRadioactive waste disposal -- Economic aspects -- United States.
Radioactive wastes -- Transportation.
Radioactive waste sites -- United States.
AdvisorPingry, David E.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe disposal of waste is a growing environmental, political, and economic problem. Low level radioactive waste (LLW) disposal is no exception. The major purposes of this dissertation are to examine the economic tradeoffs which arise in the process of LLW disposal and to derive a framework within which the impact of these tradeoffs on LLW disposal policy can be analyzed. There are two distinct stages in the disposal of LLW--the transportation of the waste from sources to disposal sites and the disposal of the waste. The levels of costs and risks associated with these two stages depend on the number and location of disposal sites. Having more disposal sites results in lower transportation costs and risks but also in greater disposal costs and risks. The tradeoff between transportation costs and risks can also be viewed as a tradeoff between present and future risks. Therefore, an alteration in the spatial distribution of LLW disposal sites necessarily implies a change in the temporal distribution of risks. These tradeoffs are examined in this work through the use of a transportation model to which probabilistic radiation exposure constraints are added. Future (disposal) risks are discounted. The number and capacities of LLW disposal sites are varied in order to derive a series of system costs and corresponding expected cancers. This provides policymakers with a cost vs. cancers possibility function. The marginal cost of reducing cancers by changing the number and location of disposal sites is calculated. A possible policy application of this information is illustrated by comparing these costs to an assumed value of life derived from experimental evidence found in the literature. A tentative conclusion is reached that the current movement toward a system of regional LLW disposal sites may be economically suboptimal.