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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this study was provided by the following organizations:
Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) Germany
Institute of Applied Energy (IAE) Japan
Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC)
National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) Switzerland
National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) France
National Radioactive Waste Management Company (ENRESA) Spain
Nuclear Research Center (SCK·CEN); National Agency for Nuclear Wastes and Fissile Materials (NIRAS/ONDRAF), Belgium
Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB)
United Kingdom Nirex Limited
United States Department of Energy
United States National Academy of Sciences
United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
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Cover art by William Matthews:
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IV, p. 43 (Morris Hickley Morgan translation; page 142a of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 14th edition). These words were written by a Roman Emperor nearly 2000 years ago. Within a few years after Marcus Aurelius' death the institutions of Roman government crumbled and the Roman Empire descended into anarchy. Two thousand years is a short time compared to the period that high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel must be isolated. The challenge of assuring their safety and security is to construct an enduring system that can withstand the vicissitudes of nature and societal change.
Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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