October 2019 Meeting

Monday, October 14, 2019
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L Goins Administration Building
Faculty/Staff Dining Room



Liquid Nuclear Waste Disposal at Oak Ridge, from X-10 to Yucca Mountain;
Can We Connect the Dots?


Dr. Steve Stow, PhD


This discussion deals with five historic themes related to nuclear wastes at Oak Ridge (primarily at ORNL). An overriding theme related to the high degree of complexity regarding nuclear waste and its management is presented. This complexity, presented by the Oak Ridge site, is perhaps the extreme for any other site within the United States.

A second fundamental theme represents the evolution and thought on the part of ORNL staff in an effort to develop a permanent geologic disposal repository for the Nation's high-level nuclear waste. This leadership lasted for several decades from the very late 1940s into the 1980s with a series of ORN-directed initiatives. Other themes dealing with the AEC and it's role in nuclear waste management are integrated into the discussion, all in a preliminary sense and it is emphasized that much more work is required to fully develop this material and the ideas presented this evening.


Having grown up in Nashville, Steve graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in geology; he attended graduate school at Rice University and received M.S. and PhD degrees. He spent three years with CONOCO in Oklahoma working on the geochemistry of phosphate deposits, then joined the Geology Department at the University of Alabama, where he advance to Full Professor and initiated a research program on the geochemistry of mafic-ultramafic rocks in the southern Piedmont. After 11 years, Steve joined the staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he initially took a managerial position as part of ORNL's role in identification of a site for disposal of high-level nuclear waste. He then became involved with characterization and monitoring of historic nuclear waste disposal practices at various Oak Ridge facilities, including ORNL, Y-12, and K-25. Steve also assumed management of the Earth and Atmospheric Science Section at ORNL, a group of over 90 earth scientists and engineers. He later took a management role for the "environmental restoration" activities at Oak Ridge, and, after two years, assumed the role as Ethics Officer for ORNL (and Y-12). In 2003, he became Director for the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) in Oak Ridge, a DOE facility managed by ORNL. Steve has been author or co-author on over 60 open literature publications and other scientific reports.

Steve retired in 2006 and is currently active in numerous groups active in Manhattan Project history and other aspects of educational public interaction. He serves as a tour guide for the popular DOE-sponsored "public tour of the Manhattan Project history and current scientific activities that have evolved from the Manhattan Project. He serves (has served) on boards for AMSE Foundation, Friends of ORNL, the Oak Ridge Retirees Program, the Oak Ridge Historical Society, DOE's Site Specific Advisory Board, the Farragut Museum, the Oak Ridge Center for Oral Histories, and others. He was an active participant in the American Chemical Society Traveling Lecture Program for six years.



Page updated September 25, 2019