‘Italians have not been able to protect Renaissance art treasures for even as long as one thousand years. Egyptians have not been able to protect the tombs of the Pharaohs for even as long as four thousand years, and some of the graves were looted within centuries. Yet, we in this generation have an obligation to protect our nuclear wastes for more than ten thousand years—a period longer than recorded history.
’It is ironic that we have been civilized for only about 10,000 years, yet we face the task of protecting high-level radwastes, a dangerous and "massive source of potentially valuable energy," in perpetuity. We face the task of storing radionuclides such as plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,000 years, but remains dangerous for more than 250,000 years. We have been separated from the apes for only about 5 million years, yet we face the task of safeguarding iodine-129, which has a half-life of 16 million years but remains dangerous for more than 160 million years. We in the United States have been a nation for only about 200 years, yet we face the task of storing technetium-99 having a half-life of 200,000 years. Given the short span of our experience in handling these materials, how can we deal adequately with long-lived radioactive waste?’
From ‘Burying Uncertainty: Risk and the Case Against Geological Disposal of Nuclear Waste’ by K. S. Shrader-Frechette.