SeaGypsy wrote:Well Tanada, I compliment you once more on your research and thank you for this post. I am sure you have the best of intentions.
1Let me ask again; what happens if there is a financial, political and social meltdown?2 Who will clean up the mess?3 Who will know how to clean it up safely if the knowledge is lost aka Library of Alexandria?
4If there is enough of a break in continuum, how would people , know not to use the materials or live in them? (from the core parts of the reactor?)
5Or do we think that is not important enough to think about?
At the very least I would like to see that this rates as highly important for emergency planning of the generating states, as well as an emergency relabeling of all poisons if the state is failing and unable to properly dispose of dangerous materials.
I agree with your points on background radiation and politics preventing infinitely better storage for toxic wastes; it is disgusting this kind of stuff is left in stacked barrels behind a fence when people have devoted their lives to figuring safe methods.
In Australia, politics just forced a dump to be built; to move from a solid rock spot in South Australia to a Limestone water table directly connected to the Great Artesian Basin which provides most of the water for outback Australia.
I numbered your questions above so that I wouldn't get confused giving my answers.
1) Well it all depends on how bad the melt down gets, do we fall back to 1950, or 1850, or 1750? I don't think we would fall any further than 1750 in the worst case scenario, there is simply too much refined metal available for the survivors to use to keep the Iron age going. 1850 level with coal power is very likely as well because it is such a common resource in many countries. 1950 is my best case scenario, we keep electricity and hence the ability to use nuclear fission power as an active power supply.
2) if we have a complex society that wants to clean up the 'mess' as you call it from NPP then even with 1750 technology they can do it. All they have to do is seal the entrances to the containment building with bricks and mortar, then bury the whole thing with dirt to make an artificial hill. Doing it with 1850 tech would mostly mean sealing the entry ways with concrete instead of bricks, but the result is the same, nobody can get in. For 1950 using machinery to scrap it out is pretty much the same as it is today in terms of heavy demolition work.
3) Given the millions of books existing in millions of places the situation even if we went into a new dark age like Europe from 650-1450 there would still be a lot of copies of the relevant books here or there. Even barring that, the half lives of the radioactive materials in question in the Concrete and Steel is are in the 5-8 year range. That means in 40 years the radiation is 1/32nd of what it was the day the reactor shut off.
4) If you get your break in the continuum period the radiation will have dissipated by the time our distant descendents start recycling reactor cores, there are a lot of much easier supplies of iron and steel available from cars/trucks/heavy equipment. You need either a very large fire to melt the core containment steels into smaller pieces or some pretty significant machinery to lift it out in one or two very large, very heavy pieces. These things are built like Battleship armor, the metal is 15+ cm thick at its thinnest spots. No primitive is going to be sawing off a piece to make a spear point, and by the time primitives are running around in large enough numbers to get it apart the radiation will have dissipated.
5) I do think it is important enough so I spent a lot of time learning about it and thinking about it. I am now convinced that compared to other remnants of our civilization we are leaving behind it is a very very small concern. In 80 years there is effectively no radiation left (its called the 10 half life rule, each half life halves the dose rate and after 10 half lives you get 50%, 25%, 12.5%, 6.25%, 3.125%, 1.625%, 0.8125%
0.40625%, 0.203125%, 0.1015625%. Clearly from the series you can see after 5 half lives what is left is almost nothing, unless the material was a huge quantity it is harder and harder to even detect.
That 40 tons of scrap metal that was max 10 Bq dose rate I pointed you too earlier? In 25 years the dose rate will be 0.625 Bq. Radioactive materials radiate and become inert. The shorter the half life the more dangerous they are on day 1 and the faster they become inert.