Nuclear wastes – theme for October 2012
The world faces a dangerous and ever more pressing problem – nuclear wastes. In Australia – “new nuclear” is being hyped as the answer- don’t believe it!
The logical steps to deal with nuclear wastes are:
1. Stop making the stuff. Close down the commercial and military nuclear reactors that produce plutonium and other long-lived radioactive materials
2. Choose the “least worst” option to dispose of the existing nuclear wastes - (a) Interim storage of radioactive wastes into above ground containers (b) Deep burial underground permanent repositories.
The nuclear lobby, desperate to stave off the death of its industry, comes up with grand promises of new Generation IV systems, reactors that will reprocess, “recycle” plutonium wastes into Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) to fuel for other Gen IV reactors. At the end, highly toxic radioactive wastes are still produced.
And all this – despite the enormous costs, the very dangerous transport of plutonium, the risks of terrorism, the increased risks of weapons proliferation.
The nuclear lobby’s cries for Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR)s, Super Critical Water Reactors (SCWR)s, Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)s, Gas Cooled Fast rectors (GCFR)s, Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (SCFR)s, Lead Cooled Fast Reactors (LCFR)s – all desperate and conflicting cries for their own salvation, rather than any solution to wastes, costs, climate change, energy needs.
The worry is that the nuclear lobby might win, by manipulating governments and populations into buying their expensive and dangerous new toys – because nobody really wants a nuclear waste tomb in their area.
The trouble is – nuclear cemeteries, however unappealing, are still the least worst option.