Australian news, and some related international items

The fiasco of nuclear preprocessing: UK, Japan, USA.

Part one | The slow violence of SA’s nuclear waste,

Part one of this four-part story considers the imminent danger involved in storing used radioactive materials, a dilemma growing at a rate of more than 32 tonnes a year. New Frame , By: Neil Overy, 8 Mar 21

”……………..This is a process by which fission products are chemically separated out of used fuel rods to extract any unused uranium. This alleged solution to the problem of high-level waste has been one of the illusionary solutions Eskom has regularly mooted and just as regularly abandoned because of the colossal costs and serious dangers involved in reprocessing. 

In the United Kingdom, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, opened at huge cost in 1994, closed in 2018 having reached none of its intended reprocessing targets. Its decommissioning is now set to cost taxpayers at least $5.5 billion and take up to 100 years to complete. In Japan, construction of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant began in 1993 and was supposed to be completed by 1997. Incredibly, the plant is still not complete – its completion date has been postponed 25 times – and it is now expected to be operational in 2023, 26 years late and tens of billions of dollars over budget. 

Even when operational, large quantities of dangerously radioactive waste, which needs to be stored for thousands of years, remains. Some of this waste is separated plutonium, a fissile material used in nuclear bombs, which presents a very serious security risk. This is precisely why reprocessing has never been authorised in the United States. As the Union of Concerned Scientists conclude, reprocessing is “dangerous, dirty and expensive”. Quite clearly, reprocessing is not an option South Africa should consider. ……

April 15, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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