Nuclear waste expert to speak at UI

Nuclear waste expert to speak at UI

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Rodney Ewing helped scuttle plans for nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain

Rodney Ewing, an academic and longtime campaigner for a cautious, science-based approach to nuclear waste disposal, will speak at the University of Iowa at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2.

Ewing was a key figure in scuttling plans for the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, a cavern in Nevada slated to hold 77,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste. He was appointed last year by President Obama to head the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, charged with overseeing the U.S. Department of Energy's policies on nuclear waste storage.

Ewing’s talk, to be held in Room W151 in the Pappajohn Business Building, comes amid conflicting views on the role of nuclear energy in a so-called green economy, balanced with the safety of reactors and the safe storage of nuclear waste. He will describe the difficulty predicting how radioactive waste behaves over tens to hundreds of thousands of years, and how storage technologies perform under the strain of the radioactivity itself, the earth’s movement, and erosive forces like water. Honesty about these uncertainties—both within regulatory communities and in communicating with the public—is high on his agenda.

Ewing comes to the UI as an Ida Cordelia Beam Visiting Distinguished Professor. He is the Edward H. Kraus Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. His training is in geology, and his group studies the effects of radiation on materials used in radioactive waste disposal. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement for Science, the Royal Society of Canada, and many other scientific organizations.

Questions about his talk and requests for interviews may be directed to Tori Forbes, assistant professor in the UI chemistry department, at:

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact ICRU in advance at or 319-335-8336.


Tori Forbes, Chemistry, 319-384-1320
Amy Charles, Chemistry, 319-353-2348


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