Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
No solution to dangerous nuclear waste

AuteurGreenpeace Int.
Classificatie (AFVAL - ALGEMEEN)

Uit de publicatie:

No Solution
to Dangerous Nuclear Waste

'If a problem is too difficult to solve, one cannot claim that it is solved by pointing to all the
efforts made to solve it'

                                    Hanes Alfven, Energy and Environment, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 1972
                                                    (quoted in the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution –
                                                          Nuclear Power and the Environment - September 1976)

1. Introduction

Nuclear power has been used for more than 50 years. The whole nuclear fuel chain - from
uranium mining and enrichment to reactor operation and decommissioning - produces large
volumes of hazardous radioactive waste, but a 'solution' to its radioactive legacy still remains to
be found.

Nuclear waste is categorised according to its level of radioactivity and how long it remains
hazardous. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that, every year, the
nuclear energy industry produces the equivalent of about 1 million barrels (200,000m3) of what
it considers ‘Low and Intermediate-Level Waste’ (LILW)1 and about 50,000 barrels (10,000m3)
of the even more dangerous ‘High-Level Waste’ (HLW)2. These numbers do not include spent
nuclear fuel, which is also a high-level waste.

Very large volumes of low and intermediate level waste are produced at uranium mines (tailings,
waste rock) and at uranium enrichment plants (depleted uranium). Although the level of
radioactivity of these wastes is relatively low, they remain radioactive for millions of years,
posing serious health risks in the event they are dispersed in the environment.

Spent nuclear fuel, which has been partially 'burnt' in a reactor, is mostly stored at reactors
sites awaiting a permanent 'solution', such as disposal. However, it is highly radioactive - a
report from a Swedish nuclear waste organisation reveals that just 20 seconds’ ex