|Fonte: Popular Mechanics|
Characterization of radioactive wastes at nuclear weapons sites can reduce fissile material uncertainties necessary for deep nuclear arms reductions while serving to protect the human environment. In this regard, a preliminary estimate based on waste characterization data indicates that from 1944 to 2009 about 12.7 metric tons of plutonium was discarded at U.S. nuclear weapon production facilities. This is more than three times than the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) last official estimate of waste losses (3.4 tons) made in 1996. Of the 12.7 tons, about:
. 2.7 tons in high-level radioactive wastes are stored as liquids in tanks and as granulated material in bins on the sites of former U.S. military reprocessing plants;
.7.9 tons are in solid waste, which DOE plans to dispose at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) a geological repository in New Mexico for transuranic wastes. About half is already emplaced; and
.2.1 tons are in solid and liquid wastes buried in soil prior to 1970 or held up in facilities at several DOE sites. The DOE considers most of this plutonium to be permanently disposed.