Space: The final frontier for garbage

By Jim Lee

Usually, when a problem seems so complex with barriers to just about any conceivable answer, the solution eventually comes in a flash of inspiration in a very basic form. This is because an uncomplicated, direct answer has been staring at everybody right in the face all along, but nobody notices until some simple soul who doesn’t have any technical know-how sees the light. So when people can’t see the forest for the trees, maybe they should get enough sense to leave the woods.
The problem of nuclear waste falls into this category. It seems like one of those no-win situations. If we don’t do something with the radioactive crud and just leave it where it is, it will accumulate and spread out until everybody starts glowing in the dark. If we take it away, we have to have someplace to put it, but no matter where we take it, nobody wants it — regardless how deep of a hole is dug for it.
The WIPP site (abbreviation for Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) about 27 miles from Carlsbad is a popular dump site. The stuff is transported there, generally by trucks that go by way of the open highways with the rest of us in our cars and SUVs, often through towns and cities, and dumped in that big hole for the profit of a big corporation with a government contract.
The radioactive trash then goes into those large underground salt beds where we are told it is safely tucked away forever. The salt is supposed to keep us from becoming jabbering mutants with our skin falling off? If that’s true, will more salt on my French fries protect me from “dirty bombs”?
Then there’s the big dump under construction in Nevada. I hear that is for refuse far more potent than what goes in the WIPP site. Maybe it will kill off those pesky aliens in Area 51.
The nuclear waste regularly delivered to the Carlsbad area is called “transuranic” waste. It’s just things like gloves that have been exposed to radioactive material. So we’re told anyway.
Maybe the powers that be put the less potent waste in southeastern New Mexico because killing off the aliens there would kill off the Roswell tourist business. Hey, it could happen.
Nobody wants the stuff, but it has to go somewhere. This is the problem, where the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Engineers haven’t solved it. Scientists are above dealing with it. Politicians can’t be bothered with it because it distracts them from raising their own pay and getting re-elected. Who’s left to clear up this situation?
Well, how about a dose of common sense? Just send it into space.
The scientists and engineers know how to do that, so make them do it. We can put it in rockets to the sun where it will be harmlessly consumed in the largest nuclear reactor in the Solar System. Or we could send the stuff into space till it peters out or hits something too far away to hurt us.
The nuclear waste can even be its own fuel to get it there.
The USA has sent up nuclear-powered rockets, such as the probe to Saturn. The government didn’t sweat nuclear fuel getting into our atmosphere if the rocket blew up because the nuclear fuel was encased in a special ceramic.
We could even send out bodies with the waste when the cemeteries fill up.
So much for not seeing the forest for the trees. Why bother with nuclear waste dumps when we can just go about 65 miles up and use the infinity landfill? Where’s there’s a problem, there’s an answer. We just need a simpleton to find it.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: