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