Can DOE Store 50 Tons Of Weapons-Grade Plutonium For 10,000 Years?

"The nuclear age is undergoing a paradigm shift. During much of the latter half of the past century, the nuclear enterprise was ascendant; now, it has entered a period of decline and uncertain long-term custodianship. This reversal of fortune is especially apparent in the United States’ efforts to rid itself of its unwanted reserves of plutonium. It’s been more than 75 years since a blinding flash lit up the pre-dawn sky at Alamogordo in the Chihuahua Desert of New Mexico. On July 16, 1945, a single gram of the grapefruit-size sphere of plutonium at the center of the world’s first nuclear explosion released three times the destructive force of the largest conventional bomb used during World War II. [1]

Thereafter, the United States government built a grossly oversized nuclear arsenal and never envisioned having to stop building it. Between 1944 and 1994, the Energy Department and its predecessors produced 99.5 metric tons of plutonium for use in an estimated 70,000 nuclear weapons. (An additional 11 tons were produced or acquired for research and development purposes.)

The perverse logic of the nuclear arms race reached a point of ultimate absurdity during the early Reagan presidency, when it was asserted that the winner of a nuclear war would be the one with the most weapons left afterward. Now, 80 percent of the US nuclear arsenal has been discarded, and the United States is still struggling with the strategic mistake of producing so much fissile material to begin with. Currently,  a total of 61.2 tons of plutonium is declared excess to the needs of the US government, of which 53.4 tons is designated for nuclear weapons."

Robert Alvarez reports for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists March 8, 2021.