Dezakin wrote:The easiest solution to nuclear waste is to bury it under the billions of tonnes of toxic chemical waste that no one cares about at all.
Everyone's a goddam comedian
...if I follow the logic underlying the wisecrack there, it comes down to 'we already make heaps of other sorts of nasty garbage, so what's a bit more', or maybe, 'people who are concerned about nuclear waste don't care about other forms of pollution'...actually on reflection I have no idea what you meant to convey by that
Or you could just do what we do now, and use dry cask storage. A spent fuel storage cask from several years of reactor operation would take up one space in the parking lot and retain its integrity for centuries. In several centuries we can revisit the issue.
Believe me, when a visionary like Lovelock says nuclear is the way forward, I sit up and listen. But movement and storage of radioactive waste is where nuclear power gets particularly worrisome, at least for me it does. Especially if it does become the major source of energy in the years to come- again, I wonder how much waste we would be talking about then? Would we just keep filling up car spaces?
And of course, your assumption that people will have the knowledge, skills and wealth to deal with the problem "in several centuries" is a mighty big one, and a lot to dump on them along with all our other generous legacies. I freely admit I don't know much about this subject, and await, other, less flip, responses with interest.
If you look at spent nuclear fuel, which is most of what the USA calls high level nuclear waste, just how much bulk are you talking about?
Answer not very darn much at all. A large currently operating nuclear fission plant produces about 25 tons of spent fuel per year. That might sound like a lot, but the fuel is so dense you are talking about a volume 12 cubic meters. IOW you can pack all that years worth of waste in 1 bathroom in a typical McMansion. 12 m^3 is ~~425 ft^3= 8 feet high by 7 feet wide by 8 feet long.
If you reprocess that waste you can reduce the volume by a factor of 4, France does this and turns your 12 m^3 into 3 m^3 plus Uranium which they can reuse.
But lets suppose you keep all your spent fuel in its orriginal form as the USA does today. You have 104 operating plants averaging 12 m^3 per year or 1248 m^3 per year.
Now compare that to any other form of industrial waste produced by the USA.
EPA report wrote:Typically 70 to 80 percent of coal ash is disposed of in dry landfills. (Sluiced ashes and sludges are first dewatered in ash ponds then landfilled.) A landfill for a typical coal fired power plant (500-1000 Megawatts) requires about 30 to 60 hectares (74 to 148 acres). These landfills range from
about 4 to 80 hectares (10 to 197 acres) and may be as much as 9 m (30 ft) deep.
The above is a YEARLY coal ash production from one powerplant and it contains thousands of times the volume of all USA nuclear powerplants combined. Coal ash contains thousands of tons of deadly poisens like Arsenic. I don't see anyone losing sleep over what our descendents 600 years from now will do about these millions of cubic meters of poisen ash in thousands of locations all over the country.
The truth is spent nuclear fuel has such a low volume that if you are just going to throw it away (which would be pretty darn stupid) you could drill wells in the middle of hard rock formations off shore, chop the waste into small pieces and drop it into the bottom half of the bore. Wells of 28000 feet or more have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico far off shore, where our descendents would never be able to access them for example. Then you drop in a couple dozen tons of Cement to seal the bore, move your drill rig half a mile and do it again. If your well bore is one cubic foot per leangth for easy math and you leave 2000 feet at the top as a 'safety gap' then 20 wells a year would contain all the spent fuel the USA produces a year effectively forever.
IOW disposing of spent nuclear fuel is a POLLITICAL problem, and it always has been. Technologically there are dozens of ways of disposing of it because the volume is so small. The reason we do not use any of them is pure pollitics.