Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
<< I heard a proposal by Lowell Wood (previously LLNL) to bury them in sand
and intentionally put the reactor into thermal meltdown to melt the sand
into a glass sarcophagus for long term storage. Lots of crazy proposals
out there! >>
I heard something similar, and I wonder if your story and mine are connected. Some time in the mid to late'70's, I was in the Earth Sciences Division at LLNL working for a chemist named Howard Tewes. We were a small group of about eight physicists and chemists, and Howard and I worked on PNE Treaty Verification and other odd jobs that came along. One day I heard another member of the group named Jerry Cohen complaining to Howard that we didn't DO anything (exciting) anymore.
A year or so later, Howard and Jerry were telling several of us about a presentation they had given to some group in Lab management. They proposed an experiment in which 'hot' nuclear waste would be inserted in bedrock (like granite) and allowed to melt its way down until it cooled sufficiently for the surrounding rock to solidify and seal the waste in a glass like enclosure. (It wouldn't really be a glass because it would cool very slowly and form a crystalline material, whereas a noncrystalline glass would only be produced by very rapid cooling.)
I wonder if Lowell Wiod was in Lab management at the time. The idea didn't get anywhere, and I believe someone had said it was a crazy idea.
At about the same time, the movie The China Syndrome came out using a similar idea.
Perhaps. Lowell Wood (and some others at LLNL) were famous for thinking
outside the box. I was at DARPA when the Strategic Space Initiative
(Star Wars) started and everyone including LLNL was scrambling to
protect their budgets or to steal money from other departments. DARPA
lost its directed beam program to Star Wars and was struggling to save
its program in GaAs which exhibited properties of radiation hardness.
Wood visited DARPA to explain how we really didn't need GaAs - just put
circuitry in a can to protect it from an EMT attack. During his
presentation he described nuclear war with the expression, "Poppity Pop
Pop" to explain how nuclear weapons would be going off. The casual way
that he described nuclear war really turned people off and distracted
from the whole intent of the presentation.
I visited LLNL once without my bosses permission and the only time that
was convenient was on a Saturday. Very few people around. I asked for
a tour of their fusion projects and Lowell offered to show me around.
It was pretty impressive, but what impressed me most was that whenever
Lowell needed to get into a laboratory, he would jimmy the door lock
with his pocket knife. Needless to say, I was not impressed with their
security! When my boss found out that I had visited LLNL he was furious
and instructed me to never again deal with the "DoE Mafia!"
I ran into Lowell again at an airport years later and asked him what he
was up to lately. He excitedly explained how he was proposing to shoot
down asteroids before they could hit the earth.
Definitely a creative person, but I worry about how many loose cannons
there are out there. I'm presently reading about some of the things
that were going on at RAND corporation during Vietnam. Grim!