• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19

How should the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants be disposed of? Why has the nuclear industry failed to find an acceptable solution to the problem of nuclear waster disposal?

Extracts from this document...


How should the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants be disposed of? Why has the nuclear industry failed to find an acceptable solution to the problem of nuclear waster disposal? I. INTRODUCTION Nuclear power is an important source of energy in many countries, even as the commissioning of new power reactors has slowed in recent years. More than 30 countries use nuclear power to meet approximately 16% of global energy needs, with the nuclear power component of total energy ranging from 76% in France (according to the International Atomic Energy Agency) to 1.4% in Brazil. In the U.S., approximately 20% of the electricity is generated from nuclear power.There are more than 400 nuclear power plants around the world, with more than 100 in the United States. However, additional nuclear power reactors are not currently being commissioned and have not been commissioned in the recent past. This is due to the issue of nuclear waste management that has become an increasingly major factor in the future and present use of nuclear power plants. The plants use either light water reactors or boiling water reactors and produce the greatest amounts of nuclear waste measured in curies /year. This waste is potentially hazardous to those who get exposed to it therefore it must be safely disposed of. In the US the Department of Energy (DOE) has been mandated by law to conduct research on the safe disposal of nuclear wastes. Any action that includes the use or production of radioactive materials results in the generation of radioactive waste in either gas, liquid or solid form. There are a number of mechanisms in industry, medicine and scientific research alongside nuclear power generation that produce waste as a byproduct. I shall be citing nuclear power generation as my main example of one of these. mildly enriched uranium is used in the nuclear reactor a power plant.The uranium is typically formed into pellets which are arranged into long rods collected together into bundles. ...read more.


International agreements may prevent seabed disposal but would be packaged into chemically stable canisters and inserted into stable floor sof deep ocean. LLW disposed of in landfills, dig trenches and fill with packaged LLW then cover a thicker than usual layer of the soil and geologic materials removed. Like all industries, the thermal generation of electricity produces wastes. Whatever fuel is used, these wastes must be managed in ways which safeguard human health and minimise their impact on the environment. Nuclear power is the only energy industry which takes full responsibility for all its wastes, and costs this into the product. Nuclear power is characterised by the very large amount of energy available from a very small amount of fuel. The amount of waste is also relatively small. However, much of the waste is radioactive and therefore must be carefully managed as hazardous waste. Radioactivity arises naturally from the decay of particular forms of some elements, called isotopes. Some isotopes are radioactive, most are not, though in this publication we concentrate on the former. There are three kinds of radiation to consider: alpha, beta and gamma. A fourth kind, neutron radiation, generally only occurs inside a nuclear reactor. Different types of radiation require different forms of protection: * Alpha radiation cannot penetrate the skin and can be blocked out by a sheet of paper, but is dangerous in the lung. * Beta radiation can penetrate into the body but can be blocked out by a sheet of aluminium foil. * Gamma radiation can go right through the body and requires several centimetres of lead or concrete, or a metre or so of water, to block it. ll of these kinds of radiation are, at low levels, naturally part of our environment. Any or all of them may be present in any classification of waste. Radioactive wastes comprise a variety of materials requiring different types of management to protect people and the environment. ...read more.


level of radioactivity, may require a similar degree of isolation from man's environment, and therefore should be borne in mind when discussing radioactive waste disposal options. By far the most important of these other waste types is generally referred to as alpha-bearing wastes (also called transuranic (TRU) waste) because of its relatively high concentration of long-lived radionuclides that emit alpha particles as they decay. Indeed, these wastes are produced in volumes greater by a factor of 5-10 than HLW. A main difference between such wastes and HLW, however, is that TRU waste does not generate intense levels of radioactivity and heat. II. When will disposal of HLW be necessary? HLW, whether spent nuclear fuel or vitrified reprocessing waste, generates such intense levels of both radioactivity and heat that heavy shielding and cooling is required during its handling and temporary storage. The wastes are therefore best stored in specially engineered cooling pools or vaults for several decades prior to disposal. While stored, both the temperature and radioactivity of the wastes gradually decrease, simplifying their handling and disposal considerably. Storage cannot be relied upon in the long-term to provide the necessary permanent isolation of the wastes from man's environment, and future generations should not have to bear the burden of managing wastes produced today. Seen from this perspective, while disposal of HLWis not an urgent technical priority, it is nevertheless an urgent public policy issue. These political aspects have led to the need for the nuclear industry in recent years to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of HLW disposal and, in some countries, laws have been implemented that require operational HLW disposal capability in the next 15-50 years. In particular, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States plan to begin disposing of HLW in the early 2000s, France by about 2010, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland by about 2020, and the United Kingdom somewhat later. All HLW produced so far is currently being stored; no permanent disposal has yet occurred. III. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Environmental Sciences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Environmental Sciences essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Citing a number of contemporary issues, evaluate pressures on water and discuss the means ...

    4 star(s)

    water related illnesses such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid (World Health Organisation, 2008). Industry accounts for water usage in power plants, mining and refinery and manufacturing industries. Agriculture is the highest consumer of water, the majority being spent on irrigation and a smaller portion on aquaculture.

  2. Critically evaluate the work of the Environment Agency for England And Wales.

    control of any substances into the environment or into the air which from industrial process. Also, under the Environment At 1995, there are number of news functions which the environment agency are responsible for; under the provisions in Part IIA of the EPA 1990 concerning the regulation of historically contaminated

  1. Discuss a range of geomorphological techniques we can use to determine the rate and ...

    Another technique in which slope movement and the magnitude of this movement detected is that of, real time monitoring. This is the process of whereby a number of devices are set up around the specified areas monitoring any signs of movement on the slope.

  2. Water Conservation Projects in agriculture in China

    Under the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower is the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (National Centre for Efficient Irrigation Engineering and Technology Research - Beijing) who are concerned with the development of agricultural water saving irrigation and other areas of rural water resource issues (Department of Irrigation and Drainage, 2011)

  1. Is energy from waste a type of renewable energy?

    In the Philippines for example, heightened the environmental security as Typhoon Ketsana (local name Ondoy) obliterated the major cities and provinces (Ubalde, 2009). Hundreds of people died forcing Philippine government to placed 25 provinces and Metro Manila under state of calamity (Ubalde, 2009).

  2. Environmental Impact Assesment

    * Installation of site fencing. Operational Phase * Garbage bins should be strategically placed and covered within construction site to prevent rodent access and minimize odors. * Provide portable sanitary conveniences for the construction workers for control of sewage waste.

  1. Is the international ban on the trade of ivory consistent with the principles of ...

    1 following a vote at the 1989 CITES Conference, with 76/91 member countries in favour of the motion (Sand, 1997), although with no greater weight given to the preferences of range states during the initial vote despite the majority of those that voted against being countries that contained populations of elephants (Sand, 1997).

  2. The recent water shortages in Spain have become a severe and lasting crisis.

    Many in Spain feel that if there are areas with surplus water supply there should be no areas in severe shortage, a sharing mentality. As the problem grows worse there is an opposing faction in the Northwest that are

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work