Books  Environmental Science  Waste Management & Remediation 

Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste

  • Provides an enjoyable synthesis of the scientific, political and social elements of the problem of high-level nuclear waste
  • Presents an in-depth, accessible explanation of the Yucca Mountain project, enabling readers to understand its strengths and weaknesses, and providing a substantive discussion for future proposed geologic repositories
  • Includes an international perspective on the difficulties and progress other countries are experiencing compared to the US with regard to high-level waste management

By: William M Alley(Author), Rosemarie Alley(Author)

370 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Nov 2012 | #201176 | ISBN-13: 9781107030114
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £21.99 $29/€25 approx

About this book

Today, the issue of waste management is as prominent as reactor safety in the controversies surrounding nuclear power and is particularly topical in the US since the 2010 closure of the Yucca Mountain repository project. William and Rosemarie Alley provide an engaging and authoritative account of the controversies and possibilities surrounding disposal of nuclear waste in the US, with reference also to other countries around the world.

Too Hot to Touch tells the full history from the beginnings after World War II up to today, bringing to life the pioneering science, the political wrangling and media drama, and the not-in-my-backyard communities fighting to put waste elsewhere. Written in down-to-earth language, by an expert with key involvement in the Yucca Mountain project, this is a timely book for public interest groups, affected communities, policymakers, environmentalists and research scientists working in related fields and anyone interested in finding out more about this important issue.

"[...] a very thorough overview of the nuclear waste issue. The book is level-headed, in-depth, and logical [...] Too Hot to Touch [...] [is] more about the fight between politics, science, stupidity and apathy (and bribery). But one of the problems with managing nuclear waste is the scope of the problem. [It] makes it clear that there are no good solutions to the problem of nuclear waste."
- Media with Conscience (

"I encourage anyone remotely interested in the topic to buy a copy [...] this is a very affordable book. The authors have done a remarkable job of making the scientific information accessible to lay persons [...] Treatment is fair: you get the sense that the authors tried hard to present the facts and all sides of the story. This book would be ideal for using in a seminar class. Overall a fascinating read!"- 
- Pierrette Tremblay, Managing Editor, Elements

"[...] well-written, informative and substantive [with] many fun facts woven into the history [...] an excellent book and a nice technical review for anyone wanting to comprehend why the task of dealing with this trash has been so mired in obstacles."
- Physics World

"This book offers a well-written, sober account of this sorry, continuing chapter in the development of the U.S. nuclear industry."
- Natural Hazards Observer


List of units
List of abbreviations

Part I. The Problem:
1. The awakening
2. Brainstorming
3. The ocean as a dumping ground
4. Radioactivity and atomic energy
5. The Cold War legacy
6. The peaceful atom and its wastes
7. Recycling
8. Dry cask storage
9. Interim storage
10. A can of worms
11. WIPP

Part II. The Mountain:
12. The search for a geologic repository
13. Nevada wins the lottery
14. The Nevada test site
15. Yucca mountain
16. How long is long?
17. Leaving almost no stone unturned
18. Surprise
19. Shake and bake
20. The project gets into hot water

Part III. No Solution in Sight:
21. A new president, new policies
22. Nuclear waste and our energy future

Appendix: discussion questions

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William and Rosemarie Alley are a husband and wife team, writing for the general public on Earth science issues confronting society. As a leading expert in the field of hydrogeology, Dr William M. Alley has won numerous awards for his work, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communication and the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award. Dr Alley served as Chief of the Office of Groundwater for the USGS for almost two decades and oversaw the Yucca Mountain Project from 2002 to 2010. Rosemarie Alley has a Master's degree in special education. As a literacy specialist, she has taught young adults with language delays and conducted numerous reading workshops for teachers, administrators and parents.

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