Nuclear Waste is become the biggest bottleneck for nuclear power these days with courts and activists raising this problem. Note while the biggest disadvantage of nuclear energy is the possibility of a major radioactive incident, nuclear waste is not a possibility but a fact. No country has a foolproof policy to dispose nuclear waste which keeps growing by thousands of tons each year. Even developed countries like Japan and USA have not built permanent facilities for storing of the toxic nuclear waste which are stored in temporary silos near nuclear power plants. The biggest danger during the Fukushima accident came from the rods of nuclear waste stored near the reactors. Nuclear Waste is the biggest con of Nuclear Electricity after the potential risks of a plant meltdown. Note Nuclear Waste is an ongoing problem and it has not been resolved in the USA where a permanent facility at Yucca mountains has run into a massive controversy. The long life of High Level Nuclear Waste, its pernicious effects on human health and difficulty in handling and storing make it difficult problem.
Nuclear Waste is coming into Focus as a Huge Unaccounted Nuclear Power Cost
A recent court ruling in India examined the problems of nuclear waste when a petition was filed to review the building and starting of a nuclear power plant. Note India has witnessed massive protests against start of nuclear power plants which has already resulted in a number of deaths due to police firing on protestors. Another nuclear power problem which has not been listed anywhere
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to spell out how nuclear waste/spent fuel will be handled or transported after the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu becomes operational. A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra on Wednesday wanted to know from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), how it intends transporting the nuclear waste out of the plant and store it in a safe place without affecting environment.
UK is the only big European developed nation to go ahead with nuclear energy despite other EU nations like Belgium, Switzerland, Germany halting operations. I am not counting France given its nuclear power industry wields enormous power and accounts for more than 75% of the electricity production. However UK too is seeing questions being raised about the usefulness of nuclear energy. General Electric and Siemens , two of the world’s biggest companies are already retreating from nuclear energy with GE saying that nuclear power makes no economic sense.
According to Decc’s 2012/13 budget, taken from its 2012–15 business plan, dealing with “nuclear legacy” issues costs around £2.5 billion a year, more than 42% of Decc’s total budget. Of that, around £1.6 billion is spent on managing the various plants and storage facilities at Sellafield, the huge site in Cumbria which is home to the radioactive remains of nuclear weapons and energy programs dating more than half a century. Sellafield employs 9231 people.
Major Nuclear Waste Accidents.
List of major Nuclear Waste Accidents:
- Brazil – Goiânia accident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred at Goiânia, in the Brazilian State of Goiás. It took place after an old radiotherapy source was scavenged from an abandoned hospital site in the city. It was subsequently handled by many people, resulting in four deaths and radioactive contamination of 245 other people, 20 of who showed signs of radiation sickness and required treatment.
- India - A laboratory instrument procured by Delhi University from Canada 42 years ago and lying unused for 20 years was the source of the radiation that killed one person in Delhi and Eight other persons involved in the scrap business were exposed to gamma radiation from radioactive cobalt-60 in 2010 after they tried to process metal junk in their scrapyard in a Delhi suburb.
- Russia – Lake Karachay is a small lake in western Russia. Starting in 1951 the Soviet Union used Karachay as a dumping site for radioactive waste from Mayak, the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility. In 1968, following a drought in the region, the wind carried radioactive dust away from the dried area of the lake, irradiating half a million people with 185 petabecquerels (5 MCi) of radiation.
- USA - Maxey Flat is a hilltop community in Kentucky. From 1963 to 1977 the Maxey Flat Low Level Radioactive Waste facility served as a dump for 832 corporations and government agencies. Approximately 4,750,000 cubic feet of Low Level USA Radioactive Waste was deposited on-site. These trenches were capped with dirt when they reached their capacity limit, but because of the heavy rainfall in the area the soil collapsed into the trenches and the trenches filled with water. It has since been referred to as the “bathtub effect.” The water that invaded the trenches became radioactive and had to be disposed of.
- France - Tricastin Nuclear Power Plant is a collection of sites run by Areva and EDF.In July 2008, 18,000 litres of Uranium solution containing natural uranium were accidentally released. French authorities banned the use of water from the Gaffière and Lauzon for drinking and watering of crops. Swimming, water sports and fishing were also banned. This incident has been classified as Level 1 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. – source Wikipedia.