An oceanographer complains about radwaste

Jacob Hamblin, a historian in Oregon, unearths the most fascinating archival material.

Preparing for the BEAR meeting of oceanographers, Vine wrote a memorandum in February 1956 outlining what he considered to be the basic conundrum of waste disposal. He captured the uncertainty by describing the problem as “somewhere between nonexistent and insolvable.” Partly this was due to a lack of information, but more important, it was not clear what would control the outcome more—scientific, economic, or political aspects. It was likely that the long-term problem of disposal would prove more difficult in all three of these than the production of atomic energy itself. By now, he wrote, billions of dollars had been spent on production. “Now research on the basic problem of disposal has barely been started and engineering effort is much less,” he wrote. “Hence, the DISPOSAL problem is many years behind the PRODUCTION problem.”

Hamblin, Jacob D. 2008. Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, pp. 77-78.

Here’s his reference, something I could never hope to find.

Jacob Hamblin reference extract

Don’t you find the oceanographer’s use of capital letters evocative?