Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



Radioactive waste is an inevitable outcome of using radioactive elements in research, education, medicine, energy, and weapons production. Low-level waste (LLW) makes up 85% of the radioactive waste produced in the United States. In 2010, over 2 million ft3 of LLW were shipped to disposal sites. Despite efforts from several states and government agencies, the options for disposing of LLW are very limited. It is the intention of this project to design a GIS based method to determine suitability of potential disposal sites based on the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requirements and criteria as well as supporting literature and reports. The goal of this project is to apply this method to Louisiana as the initial screening process to locate regions suitable for further evaluation as prospective disposal sites. Criteria were derived from 10 CFR part 61.50’s 10 minimum requirements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Regulatory Guide 0902, and a study of experiences at existing sites. A suitability formula was developed allowing for weighting factors and normalization of all criteria to a 100% scale. Data were collected and compiled into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data sets and analyzed on a cell grid of approximately 14,000 cells (70,000 square miles) using the suitability formula and the state of Louisiana as a region of interest. Requirements were analyzed for each cell using multiple sub-criteria and surrogates for unavailable datasets. Additional criteria were added when appropriate. The method designed in this project was sufficient for initial screening tests in determining the most suitable areas for prospective disposal sites. The top 10%, 5%, and 1% include respectively 404, 88, and 4 cells suitable for further analysis. With these areas identified, the next step in siting a low-level radioactive waste storage facility would be on-site analysis using additional requirements as specified by regulatory guidelines. GIS provides an efficient and cost effective means of analyzing areas for siting LLW storage facilities and has great potential for use in other states where sufficient GIS data exist.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Wang, Wei-Hsung