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Feds Considering South Dakota for Deep Borehole Nuclear Waste Disposal Test

Commenter Donald Pay has been working hard in the comment section to alert us to a nuclear waste disposal project that may come to South Dakota.

The U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board met last week to discuss the Deep Borehole Field Test. The U.S. Department of Energy wants to spend $80 million to drill two holes three miles deep in which to dump nuclear waste:

Deep Borehole Injection—Sandia National Labs
Source: Sandia National Lab

At that depth, even if the nuclear waste canister and melted granite capping leaked, the radioactive materials would supposedly never seep back up to the groundwater a couple miles above. Six such holes could store all of the United Kingdom’s nuclear waste. A single borehole could hold 40% of the nuclear waste (yum, plutonium!) stored at the Hanford dump in Washington State.

Boreholes could be built and filled more quickly and cheaply than mine-style repositories like one proposed for but halted at Yucca Mountain in Nevada; a comparable federal repository isn’t expected to be available until 2048; DOE and Sandia National Labs say these deep boreholes can be constructed in five years.

Drilling for the Deep Borehole Field Test would start in September 2016.

An April 2015 technical paper lays out these criteria for Deep Borehole Field Test sites:

    • Less than 2 km (1.2 miles) depth to crystalline basement
    • Not at or proximate to a strategic petroleum reserve site
    • Not near an urban area 2
    • Site area greater than 1 km (about 1⁄2 square mile so that there is ample area for drilling operations)
    • Distance greater than about 100 km (about 60 miles) to topographic slope of greater than 1o to avoid deep groundwater circulation 2
    • Geothermal heat flux less than 75 mW/m
    • Less than 2% probability within 50 years of peak ground acceleration greater than 0.16 g from a seismic event (generally indicative of area of tectonic stability)
    • Distance to Quaternary age (< 2.6 million years ago) volcanism greater than 10 km (6.2 miles)
    • Distance to Quaternary age faulting greater than 10 km (6.2 miles)
    • No known major crystalline basement shear zones or major tectonic features
    • Low density of petroleum drilling
    • Lack of known existing surface or subsurface anthropogenic radioactive contamination [Frank V. Perry, Bill W. Arnold, and Richard E. Kelley, “A GIS Database to Support Siting of a Deep Borehole Field Test,” IHLRWM 2015, Charleston, SC, April 12-16, 2015, p. 633]

Northeastern South Dakota satisfies many of those criteria. Sandia National Labs agrees: Sandia selected and evaluated three areas as representative locations for the Deep Borehole Field Test: the Texas Panhandle, southern South Carolina, and northeastern South Dakota. Here’s some of what a September 2014 report from Sandia said about the South Dakota site:

Much of South Dakota exhibits characteristics that are potentially favorable for the deep borehole field test, based on the siting guidelines identified in DOE (2013). Depth to crystalline basement rocks is less than 2,000 m with the exception of the northwestern corner of the state (see Figure 2-3), which lies on the southern edge of the Williston Basin. Except for the Black Hills in the southwestern part of South Dakota, topographic relief is generally low, which would tend to limit deep circulation of meteoric groundwater. Seismic risk is low (see Figure 2-2) and Quaternary age volcanism and faulting are absent in the state. Although structural complexity exists in the Precambrian basement, these features are geologically old and major features such as the Midcontinent Rift system are absent. A significant positive geothermal anomaly is present in the south-central part of the state (see Figure 2-1), but conditions elsewhere appear to be generally unfavorable to deep geothermal exploration or development. Major areas of oil and gas production are limited to the northwest and southwest corners of South Dakota, although scattered petroleum exploration drilling has occurred throughout the state. The location of the state in the stable continental interior and the geological data indicate a tectonically quiescent environment [Bill W. Arnold, Patrick Brady, Mark Sutton, Karl Travis Robert MacKinnon, Fergus Gibb, and Harris Greenberg, Sandia National Laboratories, “Deep Borehole Disposal Research: Geological Data Evaluation, Alternative Waste Forms, and Borehole Seals,” Sandia National Laboratories for U.S. Department of Energy, 2014.09.05].

Sandia focused its research on the area of South Dakota marked in the red rectangle below, since the sedimentary layer there is even shallower, generally less than 1,000 meters:

Counties included in Deep Borehole Field Test representative area in South Dakota: Faulk, Hand, Spink, Beadle, Clark, and Kingsbury. From Arnold et al./Sandia, September 2014, p. 11.
Counties included in Deep Borehole Field Test representative area in South Dakota: Faulk, Hand, Spink, Beadle, Clark, and Kingsbury. From Arnold et al./Sandia, September 2014, p. 11.

We’ve seen evidence that Governor Dennis Daugaard supports bringing nuclear waste to South Dakota. Sandia National Labs has a well-placed friend here in South Dakota, their former consultant Heather Wilson, who is now president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, whose geology experts would play a key role in advising the state in inviting such a project to our bedrock.

Recall that Governor Bill Janklow tried to bring nuclear waste to the opposite corner of the state in the early 1980s. South Dakotan revolted and blocked the Edgemont nuclear waste dump plan in a 1984 ballot initiative that passed 62% to 38%. Perhaps the Governor will want to consider whether voters would respond any more favorably to having nuclear waste trucked into the heart of South Dakota’s farm and pheasant land.

Update 10:40 CDT: I’m reminded to read my own archives. The last time this blog discussed the Daugaard Administration’s hankering for nuclear waste, the Governor’s Office shared with the press a February 22, 2012, letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu regarding research on using South Dakota shale deposits for nuclear waste disposal. In that letter, Governor Daugaard said he could “see no reason not to conduct this research, as long as this proposition does not obligate the state of South Dakota to accept nuclear waste. Any such decision will be made based on the results of rigorous scientific study and a vote by the citizens of South Dakota. I will not support the storage of spent nuclear fuel in South Dakota without an affirmative public vote.”


  1. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-10-27 08:31

    You forget, this is the administration that gets stopped with their education reform bill, their economic development bill, and they still comeback and enact portions of whatever the voters disapproved. They count on the complacency of the electorate.

  2. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 08:34

    East River has already been destroyed so a nuclear waste dump there hurts nobody.

  3. Greg 2015-10-27 08:44

    I beg to differ with you Mr. Kurtz, Eastern SD has many small towns and farms that some of the best people you could ever meet call it home. So I think you are full of S–.t Mr. Kurtz

  4. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 09:00

    This bore hole is in basement rock, part of the Trans-Hudsonian orogeny and since East River is already a chemical toilet few white people will be put out by burying nuclear waste there.

  5. jerry 2015-10-27 09:06

    Cory, I posted this yesterday about the explosion in Nevada.

    It is a dream that drilling these holes and filling them with this nuclear waste is ever gonna be safe. That is an impossibility. These slow burn death traps will always explode, sooner or later. Of course our republican overlords do not expect to live that long so they want the payoff and worry about it after they have left the building.

  6. jerry 2015-10-27 09:14

    Wilson has a shady past, so shady that she was not reelected in a red state as a conservative, neocon. I have noticed when they fail in one place, we suddenly want them. Doctors, politicians are welcomed with a sign “Losers Welcome”, “grifters apply here”, and so it goes. A little about Heather Wilson, the perfect fit for the rest of the corrupt South Dakota cabal,

  7. Paul Seamans 2015-10-27 09:21

    Within the last year there was some boring activity within the right of way of Hwy. 183 south of Presho on the White River breaks. I suspect it was part of Gov. Daugaard’s plan to store low level nuclear waste in South Dakota. I also suspect that this low level waste would include low level radioactive water from North Dakota’s fracking operations (taxed by the state of SD, of course).

    I want to thank Donald Pay for keeping us informed on what is happening in northeastern South Dakota. So far it appears that Gov. Daugaard’s economic development plan relies heavily on accepting radioactive waste, CAFO’s, out of state oil pipelines, and the hope that pheasants survive the winter without adequate cover.

  8. Lynn 2015-10-27 09:21

    New Mexico around the Santa Fe area would be a far superior area for our Nuclear Waste Depository. With Los Alamos not too far it would be very convenient. BNSF would have easy access for transport.

  9. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 09:25

    The Santa Fe Watershed Association is a political force to be reckoned with and is already fighting tritium contamination from Los Alamos within an active seismic zone.

  10. Lynn 2015-10-27 09:31

    Historically it’s been fairly stable. Ancient Volcanos but they are extinct and not dormant. Glass containers would negate water intrusion and a reprocessing center could be set up to recycle materials. It would be an excellent area to set up facilities with the expertise of Los Alamos nearby.

  11. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 09:40

    Thankfully, New Mexico has a robust two party system where both parties work to preserve the Rio Grande watershed in stark contrast to South Dakota where earth haters dominate the political process.

  12. Craig & Ronette Guymon 2015-10-27 09:48

    When issues such as this are placed on a ballot, the turnout and votes cast by moderate GOP, DEM and IND voters reflect the true values held by a majority of South Dakota citizens. Hopefully a 2018 ballot initiative objecting to importing nuclear waste into South Dakota and burying the plutonium 3-miles beneath “The Little House of the Prairie” will motivate moderate and liberal voters to turnout in large numbers blocking creating a nuclear waste dump site in South Dakota.

    Given the cloaked secrecy and entrenched corruption surrounding one-party rule, how much cash would ear tagged for cronies and then flow under the table into the pockets of those supporting and promoting creating an international nuclear waste dump site to be located beneath “The Little House on the Prairie” in South Dakota?

    Instead of importing nuclear waste into the prairies of South Dakota, how about motivating a large number of moderate and liberal voters to cast a ballot in Nov 2018: (1) Blocking Daugaard and his cronies from creating a international nuclear waste site; and (2) Approving boring one 3-mile deep hole into which one-party rule can be deposited and sealed forever.

  13. mike from iowa 2015-10-27 10:01

    Dog help us if volcanoes ever smoke pot. Can volcanoes be arrested and incarcerated?

  14. Lynn 2015-10-27 10:01


    If an area was geologically suitable with the infrastructure to handle and reprocess waste how much power would the federal government have over state opposition? Didn’t Yucca Mountain stop as a result of the Obama administration?

  15. mike from iowa 2015-10-27 10:04

    Paul is that the same White River Clintons tried to make famous and wingnuts tried to make a crime?

  16. Lynn 2015-10-27 10:08

    Mike Who Resides in Iowa,

    It’s interesting you brought Pot into this thread. Given the claims SDAP & NASD have made with the miracle health and healing abilities of marijuana those smoked it could probably offset any radiation exposure should contamination issues arise in New Mexico.

  17. Paul Seamans 2015-10-27 10:23

    Lynn, interesting question. Now that the state has ceded much of South Dakota’s power over nuclear issues to the federal government I don’t know.

    Mike, our White River hasn’t been entangled in such newsworthy matters. Our White River’s main claim to fame is that it is one of the most winding, if not the crookedest, rivers in the world. Then again maybe the Clinton’s White River was more crooked.

  18. mike from iowa 2015-10-27 10:58

    Paul,you have my word of honor(for what it is worth) Clintons committed zero crimes with Whitewater dealings. Even hired character assassin Kenny Boy Starr had to admit as much. They lost around $50000 making restitution for Jim McDougal who sold off company assets and pocketed the money. McDougal died in prison because he was a crook.

  19. kingleon 2015-10-27 11:25

    My dear fellow liberals,

    Aren’t we supposed to be the farsighted ones?

    The liberal reaction of Not In My Backyard to any proposal of trying to more safely store nuclear waste than the current situation (storing it on-site) has always confused me. The stuff has been piling up for a while now, we can’t pass the buck forever and eventually it will end up in Someone’s Backyard.

    What would it take from geologists to convince you that it would be safe for SD? What alternative to deep-earth repositories do you suggest?

    I’m sorry, we gave all our really bad wasteland away to the indigenous nations to make up for a long history of genocide. Shucks, if only we’d realized that one day, our safest, cleanest form of energy would produce a supply of near-eternally dangerous material, we would have hung onto that land. CO2 is pretty damaging for a very long time too (pay heed to David Archer’s words:, poses danger to everyone on earth no matter where they are, but we’ll just let that go into the atmosphere, because it sounds less scary than radiation. Our brains can’t make the leap from seeing a coal-based power plant to an image of your grandkids needing malarial shots (FYI, living in the tropics is awful. Google ‘parasite load’.).

    But that’s tangential. No matter how you feel about nuclear power, the waste exists. What will we do with it?

    If we keep on this path of unilaterally shutting down any discussion of depositing nuclear waste, eventually we will deposit nuclear waste in a place where the people are too poorly educated to understand the risks, and almost certainly won’t be the geologically ideal place to deposit it. That would be us exercising pure Privilege, folks, with a capital P… and that would be pretty sad if its us liberals who force the path of Privilege.

    I have no opinion on this or any other proposal on what to do with nuclear waste, but we need to be willing to listen to what the actual risk analysis is before we make up our minds. And yes, that risk analysis is going to be very uncertain. A big question about Yucca Mountain was what the probability was of a ‘dead’ volcano not being dead, and the answer sadly is ‘really hard to say’. What level of uncertainty are you comfortable with?

    Just some food for thought.

  20. mike from iowa 2015-10-27 11:46

    Lynn,I’m more concerned with who is feeding Viagra to volcanoes since volcanoes are just mountains getting their rocks off.

  21. jerry 2015-10-27 12:24

    Of course kingleon, let us march that way into the hail of the low bidder on this project. Let us ignore the holes in Nevada that are now exploding with nuclear waste. The superfund sites all speak gloriously of being well cared for. Here is one on another reservation wasteland. Not nuclear, but a killer just the same

    We already are familiar with how uranium sites in Harding County are well taken care of in South Dakota. The wind takes care of the tailings and wherever that wind decides to drop it, it is removed, this has been going on since 1964, which is probably why we in South Dakota take a lot of Synthroid.

  22. Craig 2015-10-27 12:49

    I honestly don’t have a problem with storing the waste in SD because in effect it will be harmless and it makes sense to keep this type of material in areas with low population density (as well as those that have the proper geological attributes suitable for this purpose).

    However, shouldn’t such repositories go in the states that benefit from nuclear power? It seems like it would make a lot more sense to build facilities in a relatively small distance from the nuclear plants to eliminate the need to transport radioactive material for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of miles.

    I’d like to think in terms of any type of waste – it should reside as close to where it is produced as is feasible. I wouldn’t expect Kansas to be comfortable with us shipping our household trash into their borders no more than we should be comfortable accepting radioactive “trash” from the East Coast.

  23. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 12:50

    The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board suggested several ideas, the third of which is extremely important.

    (1) The 2 “test” boreholes will not be vertical, as is indicated in most of the Sandia Lab graphics. The scientists at the NWTRB said that vertical drilling does not intersect faults that could be in the rock that are oriented vertically. Thus, it will be necessary to drill on a slant. This likely will complicate the process because it may require getting permission of multiple surface/mineral owners.

    (2) There was heavy criticism of the 2 borehole “test,” with hydrogeologists and other scientists suggesting that there can’t be a valid characterization of the hydrogeological impacts without drilling multiple boreholes. Not all these boreholes will have to be drilled as large as the two “test” boreholes, but there seems to be a belief that DOE is rushing this test and low-balling the costs. Thus, it is likely there will be an expansion of the “tests” to include a much more detailed study of the area. This is the “nose under the tent” approach to siting a dump. It starts off as a proposed “test” and ends up as a “dump.”

    (3) Partly because of (2), scientists believe the site chosen for the test will be the site selected as the disposal site. The feds aren’t going in stick hundreds of millions of dollars down a “test” borehole or two, and go to all this scientific study, if they can’t then use the site for disposal. If South Dakota is selected for the test, it means this: it is the disposal site that the feds want to use.

    The response will have to be a state initiative, because by that time Daugaard will have signed off on the test, and by implication, on the dump.

  24. jerry 2015-10-27 13:24

    The east coast has the power plants, so they should do the South Carolina site as that state already has a nuclear power plant there. Once the dumping and drilling starts here, we will be the chosen site for all the trash because we are in the middle of the country.

  25. owen reitzel 2015-10-27 13:40

    sorry. I just saw it was already posted by Jerry

  26. jerry 2015-10-27 14:00

    Owen, It seems to me that the smart guys thought it was gonna be safe in Nevada drill holes as well, until it exploded. The smart guys that say not to worry also thought the same about Yucca Mountain. This is dangerous stuff that Daugaard and Heather Wilson , want us to live with. Daugaard will probably move back to Chicago once his grifting days are over in South Dakota, so he can have that buffer from here as his protection. Heather Wilson will probably will take her commission and go somewhere far far away.

  27. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 14:12

    Let’s just put it this way: neither the feds nor private industry has done particularly well with radioactive waste. Taking this stuff is playing Russian roulette with the most dangerous waste products on earth.

    The low-level radioactive waste dump site in Barnwell, SC, that SD legislators visited and were so impressed with in 1984, is closed and leaking. The closed Nevada low-level radioactive waste dump site was recently on fire after an explosion. The Hanford site, the federal site where Governor Rounds brother-in-law worked, is a mess. The Idaho site is a mess. Several old nuclear dumps have problems, including a fire near a St. Louis area nuke dump. WIPP in New Mexico, another site for disposal of defense wastes, had a recent incident that will keep it closed for several years while it is cleaned up. It may never re-open.

    Any takers for the next failure?

  28. Lynn 2015-10-27 15:07


    What about the latest generation of reactors? Are there several types of new reactors that could reduce the risk, waste output and could be an alternative to putting more harmful gasses into our atmosphere?

    Can we recycle the waste for power generation rather than to keep mining Uranium? Possibly a newer less toxic version of what the French have been doing for years? I would imagine the technology has advanced quite a bit further than the generation of reactors we have here in the US that were designed in the 60s or 70s?

  29. Lynn 2015-10-27 15:10


    The French have been using Breeder Reactors for years to recycle fuel right? Are there far more efficient and less toxic methods to use this material for power generation?

  30. TBD 2015-10-27 16:04

    What about the radioactive waste NE Wyoming. Growing up there the feds always said there was no nuclear waste buried there. Left from when the Air Force left in late 60’s. Oddly enough, there was a cement slab with nothing on it surrounded by a chain link fence in the middle of no where. Which Ellsworth AFB visit periodically.

    Also, what about in the early 60’s, the nuclear cloud that “Got Away” from the Government the dissipated over NE Wyoming and killed flocks of sheep. Many of the people that lived in that area have developed Cancer and their children also developed many problems.

    Then in the early 2000’s the government admitted to nuclear waste.

  31. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-27 18:43

    Oh what the hell, lets contaminate it 3 or 4 miles under the surface. We have already contaminated it at ground level and below with all the CAFOs in that area. There was a fellow from near Sisseton/Veblen area this summer at the Pierre protest of the KXL pipeline, who told us that the 17,000 head Veblen CAFO is putting out so much affluent, that his ground water test showed 25,000 ppm of fecal contamination.

  32. grudznick 2015-10-27 19:07

    Well I’ll be damned. Mr. Pay, you are not insaner than most on this issue. But, it might not be a bad thing. Nobody has proved this would be bad, and it’s east river anyway because thats where the rocks and dirt would make it the best place. Looks like a new job creator for Huron where they need it.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 19:16

    TBD, where’s that Wyoming site? Have you seen the Air Force dudes heading out there? Where did it come from, power plants or military?

  34. El Rayo X 2015-10-27 19:41

    After close examination of the first graphic, I have no problem with us burying our nuclear waste in Dubai. Problem solved.

  35. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 20:18


    Yeah, this is a typical SD Republican “job creator.” It’s a multimillion dollar payoff by the federal government where the plan is so completely cuckoo that Daugaard has been doing his damnedest to keep it on the down low for several years. The multi-million dollars in tax money will go to outside consultants and a few SD elite. These are mostly very high tech jobs, and it will require an imported work force, so most of the money will be going out of state. The SD Republican Party will, of course, insist on their cut, so expect another non-profit/consulting firm approach to churning payoff money, and, of course, some more murders or murder/suicides. Normal South Dakotans will have to shoulder the health and environmental impacts that go along with the usual failure of a project like this. The usual South Dakota post-failure “job creation” in the form of a Superfund Site will probably not be possible with deep borehole disposal. There will be no way to remediate this project. There will have to be a 20 to 30 mile uninhabited sacrifice area created, which will create an nice area for return of bison. Hey, I’m in for this project (sarcasm).

  36. grudznick 2015-10-27 20:25

    Huh. Whodathunk it. I had no idea. I’m thinking a 20 or 30 mile uninhabited sacrifice area might wipe out some roads. But it’s around that boring part of the state so it’s probably as good a place as any if there has to be one. Do you think they will fence it? If the bison are irradiated and go mutant they will need a big fence.

  37. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 20:28

    Huge fence, Grudz. Huge.

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 21:15

    Jerry, if a nuclear waste canister exploded three miles down, would the borehole act like a verticl cannon, transmitting the force of the explosion and the granite cap straight up into the prairie air?

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 21:18

    Paul, boring by Presho? South central South Dakota seems not to be looked as favorbaly for Deep Borehole Field Test as northeastern South Dakota due to greater geothermal heat flux. All that heat you have in the ground out there apparently increases the risk that something will go wrong.

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 21:26

    Kingleon, I’m open to the scientists making the case with science. They certainly seem to have a strong case for cost savings and efficiency, and I am intrigued by the basic scientific argument that putting nuclear waste so far below the water table reduces the risk of bad things happening. And much as I may not like Uncle Sam trucking this waste along U.S. 12 and 281, hauling existing nuclear waste through South Dakota, dumping it down several three-mile-deep holes west of Redfield, and sealing it beneath granite and concrete may reduce the risk of both environmental harm and terrorism that exists now as that waste sits out where bad guys and the elements can get it.

    But given the hazards, we should be very attentive to the science and the politics rolling behind the decision to make sure that if we start punching holes in the prairie for the right reasons, not for the kind of reasons that help guys like Joop Bollen and Rick Melmer land easy windfalls.

  41. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 21:28

    Everthing west of a north/south line at Oacoma should be rewilded; everthing east okay for nuking.

  42. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 21:31

    Except for Madison, Wisconsin where Mr. Pay lives: huge fence….

  43. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 21:37

    The hottest nuclear waste should jettisoned into the Sun along with South Dakota’s congressional delegation but the low level stuff at the Krebs level is okay to bury near Pierre somewhere.

  44. Paul Seamans 2015-10-27 21:42

    Cory, a news article in the RC Journal a while back talked of Gov. Daugaard and the legislature appropriating around $400,000 to the School of Mines to be used for borehole drilling to determine if the Pierre Shale would be a good repository for low level radioactive waste. As the Pierre Shale is a West River geological formation I am assuming that the two bore holes south of Presho might be part of this project. I have no way to be sure. One borehole was in the state highway road ditch which I found to be odd.

    Drilling frack wells in the Bakken produces a lot of waste water. Not only the chemical laden water used for drilling but also the water that is presently associated underground with the oil. This water that is released with the drilling process is radioactive at a low level of radioactivity. This water is supposed to be disposed of properly. Nebraska residents in the panhandle are presently fighting a proposal to bring into Nebraska this fracking wastewater from Colorado and Wyoming and inject it into old oil wells. I feel that this is also slated for South Dakota. This is entirely different from which Donald Pay has been warning us about for the East River but it is something that we have to be aware about for the West River Pierre Shale. I would almost bet that something like this could almost be permitted by the DENR.

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 21:47

    Larry, your nihilism forms a weak basis for policymaking and blogging. If I accept that South Dakota is lost, flushed down the chemical toilet forever, then what’s the point of even warning people of a project like DBFT?

  46. Paul Seamans 2015-10-27 21:51

    larry, everything west of Oacoma is already wild (and a little crazy). No need for rewilding here.

  47. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-27 21:52

    Say, Donald, is the 1984 initiative still in effect? That initiative required that any nuclear waste dump be put to a public vote. Is that requirement still in statute? Governor Daugaard said in his September 2012 letter to Secretary Chu that he would only allow nuclear waste into the state upon an affirmative vote of the people; was the Governor simply stating his obligation to submit any such proposal to a vote?

  48. larry kurtz 2015-10-27 21:53

    It’s your blog, Cory. Whatever you say, little dood.

  49. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 22:12

    The 1984 initiative was repealed by the Legislature in a 100+ page “repealer” bill. It was snuck in with no indication in the title, so you could make an argument in court that it was repealed illegally, and would still hold. The 1984 initiative was slightly flawed, as the SD Supreme Court held that the part of the initiative that required an automatic referendum was not constitutional, but the rest of the initiative was upheld, or not litigated. It would have required a small fix to make it constitutional. Because the Legislature put the Dakota Compact on the ballot anyway in a special election in 1985, the part that was ruled unconstitutional didn’t matter.

    The 1984 initiative dealt with both low-level radioactive waste dumps and compacts, which clearly were under the authority of the state, and high-level radioactive waste, which is clearly under federal authority. There would have to be some additional thought put into how to craft wording to make it dovetail with federal policy today, that being current federal law and the proposed “consent-based siting process.”

  50. Donald Pay 2015-10-27 22:21


    I do know that when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission balked at Chem-Nuclear’s Edgemont site, Chem-Nuclear started to explore other areas. One of them was in the Presho area. I can’t remember the name now, but there is a Republican stooge down there, who later was part of the Mickelson administration. It was on this land back in 1985 that Chem-Nuclear drilled. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are going back to drill on some stooges land who will get a big payoff if they decide to site a dump in shale.

  51. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-27 22:38

    What does the trillion dollar upgrade to our nuclear weapons capability have to do with all of this?

  52. moses 2015-10-27 22:53

    West river wont care they all support, republicans out there.They will love this in the back yard.

  53. jerry 2015-10-27 23:49

    Maybe if the canister is compressed when ignited, it would act as a bomb 3 miles down. That might make another waterway and we would not be east river and west river, but a crater lake that is radioactive. Big fish for those who like to troll and have their fish glowing.

  54. leslie 2015-10-28 00:28

    who is McCormick and why did she write this?

    10. K. MCCORMICK. “Precambrian Basement Terrane of South Dakota,” Bulletin 41, Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, University of South Dakota. (2010).

    IHLRWM 2015, Charleston, SC, April 12-16, 2015

    “heathers” wilson is the leading fund raiser in her past in new mexico, people in the know say….
    (see next post for problems “heathers” and Kehlia Mccormick may doom our grandchildren to face :)!!

  55. leslie 2015-10-28 00:31

    Spink county SD location was identified pp.9-20 citing

    as an example of the size and manner and problems with the contemplated disposal process in SD–29,550 canisters would require 58 to 82 seventeen inch boreholes depending on canister fill capacity. deposit of 968 canisters drilled to a depth of 5 km would cost $20 million, or cheaper if drilling only goes to 4 km depth (p.75).

    canisters melt at 645 C and granite melts at 700 C, but [danger from] salt-metal interfaces range between 317 and 540 C (p. 70). in strings of 10 canisters emplaced at a time, the rise in surface temperature of the canister when immersed in the well bore fluid could be enough to initiate local boiling of the fluid . Id.

    premature corrosion of the canisters by groundwater can occur. getting bentonite down to 4-5 Km deep in a water filled borehole, while problematic, is not adequate above 100 C; neither crushed granite nor silica sand will not seal out groundwater, and cement grouts have no well-defined temperature limits but maybe be up to 200 C. Id. consolidated spent fuel rods in canisters have almost linear rises in temperature with the number of fuel rods (p. 71).

    canisters and well casings of course dissolve in the brine of chemicals and heated groundwater! (pp. 83, 84)

    the conclusion was that SD Precambrian basement may be particularly favorable with probable large granitic batholiths (i.e. Buried Harney [or Black Elk] Peaks!!). p. 92. finally, the tools required are the same as used in the geothermal extractive energy industry.

  56. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-28 07:09

    Okay, since nobody answered my question about the nuclear armament upgrade, let me ask it another way. If they are spending that much to upgrade the nuclear armament that we already have, does that mean that they will have to dispose of the nuclear part of the armaments that are already in place? If so is this just a means of spurring the uranium mining industry in our country and around the world, as well as the arms industry and now add on the nuclear disposal industry?

  57. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-28 07:39

    Oh, Lanny, the connections!

    Defense contractor Lockheed runs the Sandia labs. Heather Wilson consulted for the New Mexico weapons labs. The article from which I glean those facts does not address your overarching question of whether upgrading our nuclear weapons requires throwing out the old fissile material and mining and manufacturing new (which would indeed be a boon for Powertech/Azarga and the other uranium miners). It does note that the new B61-12 nuclear bomb will be more accurate thanks to a new tail kit and will have a “dial-a-yield” electronic feature allowing users to reduce the explosive power from 50 kilotons to 300 tons. One would think that nuclear weapons causing less collateral damage would be an improvement, but opposition to the B61-12 centers on the fact that more accuracy and ability to dial down yield moves our arsenal away from the primary mission of deterrence and could make a war-fighting President more willing to use those nuclear weapons.

  58. Deborah Neuharth 2015-10-28 08:14

    I live in South Dakota and do NOT want a nuclear waste dump here

  59. Craig Guymon 2015-10-28 08:16

    Hey Grudz, you still hanging your hat on top of your rock prior to entering your earthen abode?

    Grudz, your lack of rebuttal remarks confirms the absolute certainty of DP’s earlier comments “… typical SD Republican “job creator. It’s a multimillion dollar payoff … the plan is so completely cuckoo that Daugaard has been doing his damnedest to keep it on the down low … multi-million dollars in tax money will go to … a few SD elite … it will require an imported work force, so most of the money will be going out of state. The SD Republican Party will, of course, insist on their cut, so expect another non-profit/consulting firm approach to churning payoff money, and, of course, some more murders or murder/suicides.”

    Best location for boring the holes — directly beneath the rock over Grudz earthen dwelling! I await your response prepared to reply in a prompt and direct manner — you earthen dweller.

    Badger, Out!

  60. RocketScience 2015-10-28 08:16

    Strap it to a rocket and send it to the sun. Not sure on costs, but would get rid of it from here and the sun can use it to burn a little brighter.

  61. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-28 08:37

    The Sun would be the most effective garbage disposal in the solar system. However, if we’re building rockets, I say colonists to the Moon and Mars get the first tickets.

    I wonder what does more ecological damage: manufacturing, fueling, and launching a rocket with a nuclear-waste payload, or letting the same amount of nuclear waste just sit in a hole in the ground?

  62. Paladn 2015-10-28 08:53

    mike from iowa,

    you want this “dumping” so badly, let the fed just dump it in your backyard. thanks so much.

  63. Craig Guymon 2015-10-28 08:58

    Besides the enormous cost of launching each rocket, what happens to humankind when every 50th rocket with a payload of nuclear waste explodes prior to leaving earth’s atmosphere?

    Badger, out!

  64. Donald Pay 2015-10-28 08:58

    There would be conservative support for opposing this. I’m afraid the budget deal might have money for the ODS (“odious” for Obama Disposal System), which is what I call the Deep Borehole Disposal idea. This is really an Obama/Moniz push for this project. I kind of hope gridlock prevails. As in most things in Washington these days, nothing is transparent, so no one will know if ODS is in the deal or not until days or weeks later.

  65. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-28 11:59

    TBD—I think I saw that spot! The Air Force demo’d a portable nuclear reactor there, right? Remarkable power concept, flying in a self-contained nuclear generator, certainly the most reliable and long-lasting power source one could ship into a remote area—fascinating! Any idea how much radioactive material might be left there?

  66. larry kurtz 2015-10-28 12:43

    I had breakfast yesterday with one of our New Mexico neighbors who was stationed at Ellsworth, a Superfund site, during the Cold War ready to launch a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. Anyone who believes fissile material isn’t already bunkered in South Dakota is an idiot.

  67. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-28 13:12

    Larry, So that is why Rounds and all of the South Dakota Republicans want to disband the EPA???

  68. larry kurtz 2015-10-28 13:17

    It might be one reason, Lanny but Republican attorneys general in bed with industrial ag is likely the biggest factor in the GOP war against the environment.

  69. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-28 13:21

    I joined the military on 12-29-61because of the threat of nuclear war over the Berlin Crisis. It was of course exacerbated a few months later with the Cuban missile crisis. But just like all things that involve war, our Country, the good ole USA, can never seem to learn its lesson. We attacked the Indians and were attacked by them. We were attacked By Japan and attacked them. We helped our allies by attacking Germany. We attacked North Korea. We attacked Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. One of our symbols, the Twin Towers was attacked by a few nutcases, so we attacked, Afghanistan and Iraq with spilling into Pakistan. We helped to overthrow governments in several countries in the Middle East. There are many other instances in which we attacked someone.

    But folks, if there is a nuclear war, we better hope that we and all that we love are killed because it ain’t gonna be pretty being alive after that.

  70. jerry 2015-10-28 13:22

    Interesting about the new bomber that will cost billions. The only war bomber that is used in theater that is worth a crap is the B-52. The old girl still is a beauty and still garners the respect of friend and foe alike. The Russian are showing what these high dollar planes will do in the shifting sands of the Mideast by being grounded. For close support, the old jets do a much better job than this new money hole we keep paying for. The money boys want all of this while trying to get rid of the Warthog. The military industrial complex needs to be neutered.

  71. jerry 2015-10-28 13:25

    Nuclear waste dumps just kill you slower than the glow you get right away. Lanny, our attackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq nor Afghanistan.

  72. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-28 13:31

    I know that Jerry, but that is why we attacked AFghanistan and Iraq. I was simply trying to point out the various reasons that we never learn, we keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. One of these days we are going to poop in our mess kit.

  73. Porter Lansing 2015-10-28 13:38

    Once the state becomes a dump, it’ll always be a dump and Washington will find all kinds of things no other state wants any part of. (noun ~ a site for depositing garbage.) South Dakota’s collective self-esteem isn’t that high anyway but branding yourself a “dump”? Really? Not only would the best and brightest graduates hot-foot it away from the Conservative government asap, but then they’d even be embarrassed to tell where they grew up.

  74. mike from iowa 2015-10-28 14:29

    And,in the 9-11 report dumbass dubya fought against and then tried to claim credit for, virtually every word about the Bush butt buddy Saudi Royal Family was redacted before the report was released. Also,the Bush Family and bin-Ladin’s family are and have been in business together,even before 9-11. Any conflicts there?

  75. mike from iowa 2015-10-28 14:36

    Palladn,Palladn are you on dope?
    Palladn,Palladn if you are there is no hope(according to Lynn)

    I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else about boreholes and waste dumping,pal. Texas(west) is the place for nukular waste disposal. They have a dump that isn’t lined and it is not far from groundwater. The dump commish is a big campaign donor to ex-Texas guv Gay Perry and as such was allowed to be the commish and start his own dump. That is how wingnuts in Texas run thangs.

  76. leslie 2015-10-28 19:41

    i heard yucca flats just wasn’t big enough but i have a feeling harry reid, when he was third most powerful person in the world (is that correct?), might have had something to do with moving it out of nevada.

    bob lazar, of area 51 fame, thinks it should be disposed of in the nuclear weapons test range west of the ridge of the papoose mountains since it is shattered and shot to hell already. make the entrepreneurs/crony/defense/exploiters of the environment for quick beacoup bucks figure out how to decontaminate themselves, and do it safey for the rest of us.

    or how about dea seabed tailings like chinese gold miners are doing in png’s bismarck sea? ocean is dying and warming and acidifying anyway. the free market will sort it all out, eh?:)

  77. leslie 2015-10-28 19:44

    deep, not “dea”

  78. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-28 19:53

    “Free market” schmee market. Capitalize their gains and socialize their losses. That is the way guys like Grudz and all of his right wing cronies like it.

  79. Donald Pay 2015-10-29 08:09

    Webcast is now available of the entire Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board October 20-21meeting on Deep Borehole Disposal. One can hope Daugaard would try to get up to speed on this before committing to this effort. And wouldn’t it be nice if all of government were as transparent as the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board? I must say that even though I might have problems with some of what they say, it is refreshing that they bring issues that federal and state agencies want to hide out into the open.

    And the same goes for you, Cory, for following this issue. Bringing issues out in the open to discuss honestly is something that rarely gets done in South Dakota. You do it every day.

  80. Lanny V Stricherz 2015-10-29 08:14

    Thanks Mr Pay, well said, and you have done a good job of bringing more info on this issue.

  81. leslie 2015-10-30 20:00

    lanny, add “subsidize their costs” to your little ditty! thats the way they like it

  82. Ora Reeve 2015-11-06 08:00

    Nuclear waste is no joke and people should be aware of what is happening with it. Thanks for the post!

  83. leslie 2015-12-23 12:01

    to seth tupper re: SDSM&T rock melt seal for SD deep borehole nuclear waste storage-


    1. Consistent with its Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request, the Department of Energy is proposing to conduct a demonstration of the Deep Borehole (DBH) disposal concept…. The DBH disposal concept is to drill a borehole (or array of boreholes) into crystalline basement rock to a depth below surface of about 5,000 m (greater than 3 miles). In this disposal concept, waste canisters would be emplaced in the lower 2,000 m of the borehole, with SEALING of appropriate portions of the upper 3,000 m of the borehole….

    With this Request for Information (RFI), the Department of Energy is requesting information to measure the interest of communities in hosting a DBH Field Test.

    A community hosting the DBH Field Test may benefit by gaining a more thorough understanding of the local subsurface geologic and hydrologic characteristics ….

    When considering responses to this RFI, Federal employees are subject to the non-disclosure requirements of the Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1905.

    2. heather wilson said, 7.03.14, among other things (note her “DOE experience” and her “experiment to develop a rock melt SEALING system for a deep borehole”:

    Mines faculty, in cooperation with RESPEC, a geotechnical firm in Rapid City, are starting a new experiment to develop a rock melt SEALING system for a deep borehole in addition to previous experiments in seismic sensors and rock strengths under extreme pressures.

    “If we are successful, South Dakota will not just host these world-class laboratory facilities in the former Homestake gold mine, South Dakota students and faculty will be active participants and leaders in the experiments that are done there. That requires close collaboration between the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and our universities. I’m happy to help make that connection and advocate for the advancement of science by serving on the board,” said Wilson.

    SDSTA board members cited numerous reasons to recommend Wilson as an ex-officio member, including the university’s key role in the mine’s reopening and transition into an underground science facility, its geographic proximity to Sanford Lab and its the involvement of faculty in experiments there through exceptional doctoral programs in physics and geology.

    “I’m excited to have President Wilson join the SDSTA team,” said Mike Headley, executive director of the SDSTA. “Her Department of Energy and congressional experience will be great additions to our Board of Directors. She will definitely be an asset in helping us shape the future of the Sanford Underground Research Facility.”

    3. June 22, 2015

    DOE to test deep boreholes for nuke waste disposal, possibly in South Dakota

    In an initiative that some experts are questioning, the Energy Department is moving QUICKLY to field test a “deep borehole” for potential disposal of highly radioactive defense waste, with a leading candidate site seen as the South Dakota School…



  84. Jason 2016-02-19 16:01

    WOW, currently they are working on cleaning up Superfund Sites, and they want this in our state…Don’t think so…Get real..EPA

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