Las Vegas officials are up in arms about the federal government's plans to store nuclear waste at nearby Yucca Mountain. Don't worry, the feds respond — we'll build an army of super-robots to handle it.

The federal government has submitted documents in court, explaining its plan to deal with the highly toxic nuclear waste. The plans apparently involve high-tech metal containers that haven't been invented yet, massive titanium shields that will be watertight to prevent corrosive water from getting at the waste containers, and a huge army of awesome robots that will go in 100 years from now and seal the place up. Says Rep. Shelley Berkley:

At the end of 100 years they are going to send an army of robots — think ‘I, Robot’ — marching down underneath Yucca Mountain to install yet-to-be-invented titanium shields. It’s hard to fathom anyone suggesting it, let alone the secretary of energy.


The feds respond that it's no big deal, because caves tend to be sealed off naturally. Just think of all those prehistoric cave paintings that survived to the present day, says project director Rod McCullum.

At least the robot army has been taken seriously enough that the feds have already done some research on fuel cells that could survive in 180 degrees celsius heat and 200 rad/hour radiation:

The Performance Confirmation program of the Yucca Mountain Repository Development Project needs to employ remotely operated robots to work inside the emplacement drifts which will have an environment unsuitable for humans (radiation environment of up to 200 rad/hour (mostly gamma rays, some neutrons)) and maximum temperatures of 180 C. The robots will be required to operate inside the drifts for up to 8 hours per mission. Based on available functional requirements, we have developed the following specifications for the power needed by the robots:

Somebody, somewhere, has to have a horror movie script about this. Nuclear waste, killer robots, Las Vegas, mutants... come on. I sense a Drunken Pitchmaster moment coming on. [Las Vegas Sun]