The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing public health standards for the planned high-level radioactive waste disposal facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada that will protect public health for one million years.

The proposed standards set a maximum dose level for the first 10,000 years, more than twice as long as recorded human history, and to provide safety beyond 10,000 years to one million years, EPA is proposing a separate, higher dose limit based on natural background radiation levels that people currently live with in the USA. The proposed standards also require that the facility must withstand the effects of earthquakes, volcanoes and significantly increased rainfall while safely containing the waste during the one million-year period.

“It is an unprecedented scientific challenge to develop proposed standards today that will protect the next 25,000 generations of Americans,” said EPA assistant administrator Jeffrey Holmstead, adding, “EPA met this challenge by using the best available scientific approaches and has issued a standard that will protect public health for a million years.”