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Nuclear waste stockpile – a global crisis

Storage of nuclear waste a ‘global crisis’ as stockpile reaches 250,000 tons, Greenpeace warns

AFP-JIJI Nuclear waste is piling up around the world even as countries struggle to dispose of spent fuel that will remain highly toxic for many thousands of years, Greenpeace detailed in a report Wednesday.

An analysis of waste storage facilities in seven countries with nuclear power revealed that several were near saturation, the anti-nuclear nongovernmental organization said.

All these nations also confronted other problems that have yet to be fully contained: fire risk, venting of radioactive gases, environmental contamination, failure of containers, terrorist attacks and escalating costs.

“More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes,” Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert at Greenpeace Germany and coordinator of the report, said in a statement.

In particular, storing waste material from nuclear power reactors deep in the ground — the most researched long-term storage technology — “has shown major flaws which exclude it for now as a credible option,” he said.

Currently, there is a global stockpile of around 250,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel distributed across 14 countries.

Most of this fuel remains in so-called cooling pools at reactor sites that lack secondary containment and remain vulnerable to a loss of cooling. Some lack a source of back-up power.

The partial meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 made clear that the high-heat hazard of spent fuel pools is not hypothetical.

The 100-page report, compiled by a panel of experts, dissected shortcomings in the management of voluminous waste in France, which has the second-largest nuclear reactor fleet (58), after the United States (about 100).

“There is no credible solution for long-term safe disposal of nuclear waste in France,” the report said.

French oversight bodies have already raised concerns about capacity of massive cooling pools in Normandy at the La Hague site. In response, energy giant Orana, which manages the site, said in a statement that “there is not risk of saturation of the pools in La Hague until 2030.”

In the United States, billions of dollars and decades of planning have failed to secure a geological disposal site, the report notes.

The Yucca Mountain underground facility — decades in construction — was finally canceled in 2010 by the Obama administration.

Some 70 percent of spent fuel in the United States remains in vulnerable cooling pools, often in densities several times greater than originally intended.

Nuclear waste from uranium mining is also a major environmental concern.

The world’s inventory of uranium mill tailings — sandy waste material that can seep into the local environment — was estimated at more than 2 billion tons as of 2011.

The other countries covered in the report are Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Finland and Britain.

February 2, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes


  1. No idea where to post this, but this is fairly interesting and super dodgy:

    Formation of joint venture with CNNC for processing of Kvanefjeld rare earth – uranium minerals raises concern that Greenlandic uranium may end up with Chinese military:

    Comment by Frank Labuschagne | February 2, 2019 | Reply

    • Just as some commentary, Chinese mining companies are often used as a proxy for “ethically” sourced minerals, especially from africa.

      Normally seems to involve a total disregard for the environment, tacit support from western governments, companies and consumers (considering their ignorance), things like child slave labour, mercenary groups, fraud, etc.

      Comment by Frank Labuschagne | February 2, 2019 | Reply

  2. This is gonna sound “slightly” obscure I guess, I used to mention this quite a bit, it’s super unscientific. Much of the uranium is tied to stuff like gold and silver, making it somewhat inactive, contained or shielded, so to say, in much of untainted or undisturbed nature. There’s a reason for that…

    There’s also a remarkable correlation with the gold price and the uranium price, historically. So basically, separating those elements is often a terrible idea, as has been evidenced. I mean, most realistically, you would imagine stable non-radioactive conditions to resemble the more natural state of those elements.

    Unfortunately humanity, science, is too arrogant and greedy for that and they don’t have many options left, sure they can try pseudographene and pseudosilicenes (which may work), but that requires a quite significant investment and effort for some kinds of plants, mostly. Not only for radiation remediation, but also for things like carbon sequestering.

    Why are these things never mentioned?

    Comment by Frank Labuschagne | February 3, 2019 | Reply

  3. Regarding the uranium stuff (related to gold, mostly)…

    Meanwhile in District 9:

    Exerpt: “..estimated total of 144,000 to 170,000 tons of U…”, based on 20 year old estimates.

    Here’s a good one:

    Exerpt: “The tailings contain about 600,000 tons of uranium, three times the amount exported during the Cold War, according to Professor Frank Winde at South Africa’s North-West University.”

    That’s in a very small area. And it doesn’t account for all the uranium…the mining corporations (notably AngloGold) have been particularly guilty of deception related to environmental damage. For instance, there’s a neat radioactive lake, so to speak, underneath one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Not so long ago, there were concerns that the lake would surface more readily (as it has done in some areas), but luckily drought and climate change has made it safer for us land-dwellers.

    Comment by Frank Labuschagne | February 3, 2019 | Reply

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