Abstract

The conflict between regulation and healthy evolution of geological science has contributed to the difficulties of siting nuclear reactors. On the Columbia Plateau in Washington, but for conservative design of the Hanford reactor facility, the recognition of the little-understood Olympic-Wallowa lineament as a major, possibly still active structural alinement might have jeopardized the acceptability of the site for nuclear reactors. On the Olympic Peninsula, evolving concepts of compressive structures and their possible recent activity and the current recognition of a subducting Juan de Fuca plate and its potential for generating great earthquakes—both concepts little-considered during initial site selection—may delay final acceptance of the Satsop site. Conflicts of this sort are inevitable but can be accommodated if they are anticipated in the reactor-licensing process. More important, society should be increasing its store of geologic knowledge now, during the current recess in nuclear reactor siting.

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