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Suggested Citation:"Purpose." National Research Council. 1959. Considerations on the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes From Nuclear-Powered Ships Into the Marine Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18744.
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Suggested Citation:"Purpose." National Research Council. 1959. Considerations on the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes From Nuclear-Powered Ships Into the Marine Environment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18744.
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CONSIDERATIONS ON THE DISPOSAL OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR-POWERED SHIPS INTO THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT PURPOSE An unavoidable consequence of the operation of any fission reactor, whether located on land or aboard a nuclear-powered ship, is the pro- duction of unwanted radioactive wastes. The two general methods of treating these wastes are: (1) containment, coupled with isolation from man's environment; and (2) dispersion, so that the probability of return to man is extremely small. In some cases complete containment and isolation are not technically feasible. In other cases such containment and isolation are conceivably feasible, but at high cost. The purpose of this report is to provide an evaluation of the po- tential capacity of the marine environment to receive certain radioactive wastes originating from normal operations of nuclear-powered ships. Basically, this report is an evaluation of the potential risks involved in utilizing the marine environment in dispersion of these wastes so that the probability of return to any segment of the human population would be small. The conclusions of this working panel can then be employed in weighing these risks against the costs and the risks of alternate methods of waste treatment. Such a comparative evaluation can finally be utilized in the formulation of design criteria and operating doctrine for nuclear-powered ships. SCOPE Our considerations have been limited to the marine environment. No conclusions are reached concerning the safety of operating nuclear- powered ships in tideless, fresh water bodies. We would assume that before any nuclear-powered ship operated on such waterways, special consideration would be given to the problems peculiar to that environ- ment by scientists competent in physical, chemical, and biological lim- nology. Separate evaluations are made for (a) the inshore area, including harbors and estuaries; (b) the coastal area, which is here considered as the area between 2 miles and 12 miles offshore; (c) the outer continental shelf, which is here considered as the area seaward of a line 12 miles from shore and extending to the 200 fathom depth contour; and (d) the open sea, here considered as those oceanic areas more than 12 miles from shore with depths exceeding 200 fathoms.

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