PH: [with reference to the probability of engineered containers leaking] So the geology remains paramount.
DS: …so when you’re dealing with supposedly very small probabilities, you say the probability of a particular event – say the probability of a bolt failing on the space shuttle machine, you know any particular bolt failing is one in ten million, and then you multiply that by the number of bolts, say there’s a million bolts, you know you multiply up the probabilities. But when you’re dealing with these extremely small probabilities, the whole thing is essentially meaningless. And furthermore when we’re dealing with probabilities of events well into the future, long after humanity has probably disappeared, certainly at the rate we’re going now, the whole thing is a meaningless exercise in playing with numbers. Maybe the last point I should reiterate is the whole concept of shoving waste into the ground has no scientific basis. It is purely a matter of expediency, which was arrived at after the practice of marine disposal had become unacceptable to the international public. That’s something I mentioned in the latest document I sent you – that Britain was at the forefront of chucking stuff into the ocean in 4000m water depth off the coast of south-west Ireland. You know, we’d just dump it there and forget about it. But this became unacceptable and became illegal in international law. And it was only then that people began thinking ‘oh well, maybe we’ll have to start disposing of it inland.’ So it’s not a scientific argument, it’s purely a matter of expediency. So the whole process of geological waste disposal has no real scientific foundation. So my basic moral stance on this is the first thing we should do is stop creating any more of this waste while we stop and have a good think about what we do with what we’ve already got. And the stopping and thinking may involve a generation of research to look into how we can immobilise the waste – make it safe at the surface of the earth – and then maybe, maybe not, put it into deep holes in the ground.
You can read Paul Hallows full Dissertation as a pdf download.