Dale Co. private property could host nuclear waste storage research

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DALE COUNTY, AL (WTVY) A major nonprofit research firm says it wants to drill a 3 mile deep hole in Dale County for research on how to store nuclear waste.

Battelle based headquartered in Columbus, Ohio plans to submit a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy Monday to drill a bore-hole three miles deep beneath private property in Dale County and other locations around the country.

“Everybody wants to know geologic questions, based on places that are unexplored, and this is exploring three miles beneath your feet. That combination of drilling has never been done, so, the combination, of that deep, that vertical, that cylindrical, is what we’re after, and what we are going to prove that that engineering feat can be done,” said Battelle Company Spokesperson, and Senior Media Specialist for Battelle, T.R. Massey.

Massey says the holes would be used for research purposes only, but data from their tests could result in future bore-holes being drilled elsewhere that could be used to dispose of weapons-grade nuclear waste.

Massey says the Dale County hole could provide useful information such as geo-thermal data and more knowledge about what lies deep beneath the surface of South Alabama, by studying, rocks, fluids, and temperatures.

Battelle won't find out if the company has been approved to proceed with the project until mid-January. Massey says drilling would not actually begin until early 2018.

Batelle is also looking at other sites for the same research.

The waste the government wants to store is from weapons and other U.S. Department of defense activities, not from power plants. If the test is successful, similar deep-drilled storage could be a solution to solving America's nuclear waste storage problem.

For decades, the U.S. has produced nuclear energy and made weapons. Most of the waste has been stored mainly at the sites where it was created.

Those sites were supposed to be temporary solutions. And over the years, the government has spent billions researching potential permanent places to store nuclear waste.

Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with more than 22,000 employees at more than 60 locations globally.

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