The US Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management is using a “multiple” barrier approach to isolate the waste. This approach addresses the primary safety issues of:
preventing water from reaching the waste canisters,
limiting the rate that canisters and waste could be dissolved by water, and
slowing or filtering out radioactive particles as they move away from the repository.
This multiple barrier approach uses natural barriers and engineered – or man-made – barriers to ensure the radioactive materials stay inside the repository, located about 1,000 feet below the earth’s surface.
The US Department of Energy has found that a repository at Yucca Mountain remote, desert area on federal land, brings together the location, natural barriers, and design elements to protect the public, including those Americans living in the vicinity, now and long into the future.
The basic idea is to place carefully packaged materials in an underground network.
Specially designed and constructed buildings will be used for receiving and preparing the waste for disposal.