Nuclear Waste News

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I have added a link to Nuclear Waste News because I think that it is important for people to understand the issues associated with the disposal of nuclear fission waste products.

The nuclear option is being seriously reconsidered in light of global warming. We can not address the issue of nuclear waste safely by burying it. We must implement the necessary technology to eliminate long term nuclear waste. If this is done then nuclear fission can contribute to our energy needs safely.

If we implement a combination of nuclear fast flux nuclear breeder reactors, along with on-site reprocessing, along with fast-flux actinide burning reactors, we can safely extract 60-70 times as much energy from uranium ore as we do presently while at the same time eliminating the long term nuclear waste stream and the threat of plutonium being used to build bombs.

Reprocessing that separates out all the actinides from the waste together allows them to be re-used as fuel without ever isolating plutonium-239, and thus provides a fuel cycle which provides no bomb building materials. Additionally, since all processing is done on site, the need to transport high level actinides is eliminates. Only fission products remain, and they are very hot initially but decay rapidly. They represent a storage liability of 300-500 years, far shorter than the 50,000 years or more for plutonium.

Category: Future

One comment on “Nuclear Waste News

  1. The annual production of nuclear “ash” from even a current generation nuclear power plant is a tiny fraction of the ash produced by a coal-fired plant. If you add in the CO2, water vapor, and other gaseous products even natural gas-fired plants produce many, many more tons of waste than nuclear reactors.

    France, which is considered the “Gold Standard” of the nuclear power industry stores its nuclear wastes in polycarbonate blocks that it buries miles underground in abandoned salt mines. They have enough storage capacity for at least 200 years even w/o reprocessing.

    If we ever start reproceesing the actual amount of unusable and hazardous nuclear “ash” will be a tiny fraction of the current waste we produce. In time, if we don’t nuke ourselves first, we’ll develop our heavy lift capacity to the point that it will be safe to raise this stuff into space and shoot it into the Sun.

    (If we do blow ourselves up a few thousand tons of radioactive debris safely buried at the bottom of sealed mine shafts will be the least of our descendents’ worries.)

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