How not to dispose of nuclear waste June 5, 2007Posted by Andreas in Environment, News, Nuclear Power.
There are still no long-term storage sites for high-level nuclear waste anywhere in the world. At a time when many countries, First World and developing, are looking to build more nuclear power plants this should surely be a major concern for all of us.
My friend Petrus commented the other day, that this is a bit like taking off in an airplane while knowing that the airport at your destination hasn’t even been built yet.
Atomic energy pundits assure us that these are merely technical issues that will be solved in due course and should not detract us from thinking that nuclear power is the best thing since sliced cheese. I guess in terms of Petrus’ analogy, they are suggesting we stay in a holding pattern above our destination until the damn runway has been laid down already.
The nuclear industry has given us a number of very telling examples of how not to store high-level nuclear waste. Here’s the latest case, taken from The Ecologist Online:
Tanks holding nuclear waste in the Russian Arctic are in danger of exploding in a spontaneous chain reaction, an environmental group has warned.
Bellona, a Norwegian group which campaigns against nuclear power and advocates clean energy generation, described the tanks as ‘a powder keg’ with a burning fuse.
A report distributed by Bellona states:
‘Ongoing degradation is causing fuel to split into small granules. Calculations show that the creation of a homogenous mixture of these particles with water can cause an uncontrolled chain reaction.’
The three tanks are reportedly filled with 21,000 spent nuclear fuel rods and are sited at Andreeva Bay, on the Russian Kola Peninsula. Until recently, they were thought to be dry, but new investigations have shown corrosive salt water leakage.
Both Russian and Norwegian authorities said that there was ‘no danger’, but that steps were being taken to improve the storage facilities.