The Environment Needs Nuclear

Part 3:
Wastes, far from being a liability, are actually a positive feature for nuclear energy. Compared with the huge atmospheric emissions from fossil-fuel energy, nuclear wastes exist in small, highly manageable amounts that can be stored without harm to people or the environment.

Radioactive wastes are secured in ways to prevent them from being stolen or contaminating their surroundings. Most spent fuel is kept at reactor sites. High-level wastes will be sealed in corrosion-resistant containers and placed in deep, stable rock formations under careful monitoring. Scientists judge that these permanent repositories will remain safe for millennia.

High-level wastes are stored either as insoluble ceramics (for spent fuel) or immobilised as stable glass compounds (for waste from reprocessing spent fuel). For the safe long-term disposal of high-level wastes, the USA, Finland and Sweden are well advanced in engineering deep geological repositories.

More than 100 commercial power reactors have been retired from operation to enter a phase of decommissioning. Nine of these sites are now fully cleared of nuclear materials.

All nuclear energy-producing countries take full responsibility for safely managing the radioactive wastes produced by their nuclear operations.

In countries using nuclear energy, radioactive wastes amount to less than 1% of the total national toxic industrial wastes, most of which remain permanently hazardous, unlike radioactive wastes which naturally decay.

The nuclear industry is committed to open and transparent decision-making and to building consensus on waste management with extensive public consultation.

Zdroj: WNA

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