Notices
Results 1 to 3 of 3
Like Tree2Likes
  • 1 Post By skeptic
  • 1 Post By skeptic

Thread: Disposing of nuclear waste

  1. #1 Disposing of nuclear waste 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    From an article in New Scientist 2 November 2013, page 43.

    Nuclear power has a lot of advantages. Good baseload provider. No greenhouse gas emissions. One plant can put out vast amounts of power. Relatively little waste per terrawatt year of power generated.

    But we have this problem that the small amount of waste it produces is toxic, and it is feared more than any other waste stream on the planet. If it could be disposed of safely and permanently, it would make nuclear power that much more practical.

    Currently, the vast bulk of the world's nuclear waste is in 'temporary' storage. This is not entirely a bad thing. Over a period of 50 years, 99.9% of all the radioactive isotopes in that waste will decay, and the radio-emissions will drop by a corresponding amount. Currently, this temporary storage includes 350,000 tonnes of material, and increases at the rate of 1,000 tonnes per month.

    The favored method of disposing of this waste permanently is to store it in deep holes in the rock, which can be back-filled and forgotten. The good news is that 10% of the Earth's surface is suitable for this, since it is geologically stable and dry granite. The bad news is that the amount that is politically suitable is close to zero. The only such repository that is even nearly ready to be used is in Finland, where a 5 billion dollar tunnel in granite, half a kilometre deep, is nearly ready to have nuclear waste moved into it.

    A similar project was planned for Australia, but details were leaked to the press and politicians gave in to the following negative response from the anti-nuclear movement. Three things are needed. Geologically stable. Very arid. Low or no human population. Australia is ideal with its extensive deserts, geological stability, and places in those deserts where no humans ever go to.

    There is research under way to try to find ways to transform some of the dangerous isotopes into less dangerous materials.

    My own feeling is that the best approach is to return to Australia. There are places there, in deserts, geologically stable, which are a thousand kms in any direction from any large population centres, and hundreds of kms from any tiny population centres. In addition, there are abandoned open cast mines that are up to 1 km deep, with roads to permit access. Nucl;ear waste in suitable containers could be placed there, and for a fee of (say) $ 500,000 per tonne. This means a windfall for the Australian people of $ 175 billion to store what is currently in 'temporary' storage, plus an ongoing income of $500 million per month. For doing almost nothing. And with no risk to anyone or anything. Not to be sneezed at!


    sculptor likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,232
    I read this just the other day:

    Manufacturing Glass Could Reduce Nuclear Waste By 90% | I Fucking Love Science

    Nuclear power is generally safer and may produce considerably less waste than forms of energy production from fossil fuels, but the waste it does make is extremely hazardous and needs to be handled very carefully. When not disposed of properly, it can cause a variety of cancers and has negative impacts on the surrounding ecosystem. Storing the waste is currently done in large cement enclosures which are very expensive because the waste can take hundreds of thousands of years before becoming inert. A new technique may eliminate radioactive waste by around 90%. The study was led by Professor Neil Hyatt of Sheffield University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and it was published in the Journal of Nuclear Materials. - See more at: Manufacturing Glass Could Reduce Nuclear Waste By 90% | I Fucking Love Science


    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    To Kalster

    Your quote talks of hundreds of thousands of years to make nuclear waste inert. There are several reasons why this is wrong. I will mention these, even though I know that you, Kalster, are sufficient edja-ma-kated not to need the data. Others may find it interesting.

    1. The decay of radioactive isotopes has no end point. It just keeps right on decaying, and the time at which zero atoms still exist capable of decaying is indefinable.

    2. Nuclear waste has numerous different isotopes mixed in it. Some have short half lives, and some have half lives in the millions of years. So, in saying it becomes inert after hundreds of thousands of years, the writer is being most inaccurate.

    I would like to make another couple comments.
    First : the most toxic waste components are those with short half lives. 99.9% of them are gone within 50 years. So the danger of nuclear waste diminishes quickly at first. Those isotopes with very long half lives are really not much of a risk.

    Second : the end point to render the waste "safe" is pretty subjective. I use 10,000 years as a rough rule of thumb here. After that time, the waste is still radioactive, but to a very much diminished level. There are natural rocks that are just as radioactive, and people live next to them with no apparent increased risk of such things as cancer. So I think it is reasonable to consider 10,000 years storage to be sufficient to render nuclear waste 'safe' to expose again.
    sculptor likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. Iron 59 Nuclear Waste Product
    By Ascended in forum Personal Theories & Alternative Ideas
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: May 22nd, 2012, 08:56 AM
  2. Nuclear Waste Management
    By Arthur Angler in forum Environmental Issues
    Replies: 72
    Last Post: February 11th, 2012, 11:06 PM
  3. Storing Nuclear Waste: Above Ground or Below?
    By kojax in forum Environmental Issues
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: October 1st, 2011, 01:18 PM
  4. Replies: 10
    Last Post: June 7th, 2010, 08:57 PM
  5. the nuclear waste non-issue?
    By esoterik_appeal in forum Personal Theories & Alternative Ideas
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: September 30th, 2007, 04:22 PM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •