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This summer, dozens of workers at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant in central California will carry out an internment. They’ll carefully begin moving 133 tons of spent fuel from temporary cooling ponds into a nuclear necropolis of eight cement-and-steel tombs in a field adjacent to the plant. If all goes according to plan, they won’t have to worry about the radioactive detritus for another 100 years.
If all goes according to plan.
The Diablo Canyon storage casks, each weighing about 180 tons and costing more than $1 million each, were authorized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in its ongoing struggle to deal with the 50,000 metric tons of toxic nuclear waste that’s already been produced by the nation’s nuclear plants. Structures like these, measuring about 18 feet high, will soon dot the landscape at almost all the nation’s more than 104 active and shuttered nuclear reactors — near neighborhoods, streams and oceans in 38 states.