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THE Nuclear Waste Thread (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby Ludi » Sun 07 Jan 2007, 17:10:18

Here's a site discussing nuke waste disposal from the guvmint point of view:

http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby oilfreeandhappy » Sun 07 Jan 2007, 19:33:31

Regarding reprocessing:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international ... processing

"No matter from which angle you look at reprocessing it is illogical. It's expensive, produces useless materials, releases vast quantities of waste into the environment, increases the total volume of waste, and increases nuclear proliferation risks. "

"One of the most controversial issues with reprocessing facilities is their daily discharge of huge quantities of radioactive liquid waste into the sea and radioactive discharges into the air. The Sellafield and La Hague facilities are the biggest source of radioactive pollution in the Europe. The radioactive contamination in the sea can be traced as far as the Arctic and eastern Canada."
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 07 Jan 2007, 19:52:24

oilfreeandhappy wrote:Regarding reprocessing:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international ... processing

"No matter from which angle you look at reprocessing it is illogical. It's expensive, produces useless materials, releases vast quantities of waste into the environment, increases the total volume of waste, and increases nuclear proliferation risks. "

"One of the most controversial issues with reprocessing facilities is their daily discharge of huge quantities of radioactive liquid waste into the sea and radioactive discharges into the air. The Sellafield and La Hague facilities are the biggest source of radioactive pollution in the Europe. The radioactive contamination in the sea can be traced as far as the Arctic and eastern Canada."


That has been the view of Greenpeace and Jimmy Carter from day 1. Pointless propaganda battles aside reprocessing is and will continue to happen for the forseeable future, and the dumping in the sea of waste is something only stupid people do. That same waste liquid can be easily evaporated into solids and refined.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby grabby » Mon 08 Jan 2007, 10:23:25

radiation is essentially forever.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby oilfreeandhappy » Mon 08 Jan 2007, 15:54:04

Tanada wrote:
oilfreeandhappy wrote:Regarding reprocessing:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international ... processing

"No matter from which angle you look at reprocessing it is illogical. It's expensive, produces useless materials, releases vast quantities of waste into the environment, increases the total volume of waste, and increases nuclear proliferation risks. "

"One of the most controversial issues with reprocessing facilities is their daily discharge of huge quantities of radioactive liquid waste into the sea and radioactive discharges into the air. The Sellafield and La Hague facilities are the biggest source of radioactive pollution in the Europe. The radioactive contamination in the sea can be traced as far as the Arctic and eastern Canada."


That has been the view of Greenpeace and Jimmy Carter from day 1. Pointless propaganda battles aside reprocessing is and will continue to happen for the forseeable future, and the dumping in the sea of waste is something only stupid people do. That same waste liquid can be easily evaporated into solids and refined.

I'd say Jimmy Carter was fairly qualified. He spent his Naval career on nuclear submarine. I'm sure if it were "easy", it would be done correctly. To me, "propaganda" is the false security statements that this industry wants us to buy.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 08 Jan 2007, 22:14:41

grabby wrote:radiation is essentially forever.


Totally backwards, radiation decays and no longer exists, that is what the whole concept of radioactive half lives refers too.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 08 Jan 2007, 22:31:09

oilfreeandhappy wrote:I'd say Jimmy Carter was fairly qualified. He spent his Naval career on nuclear submarine. I'm sure if it were "easy", it would be done correctly. To me, "propaganda" is the false security statements that this industry wants us to buy.


Of the period Jimmy Carter spent in the USN, 1943-1953 he spent the period of 1943-1952 working his way up like any other officer of the era. From October 1952 to March 1953 he was assigned "in the design and development of nuclear propulsion plants for naval vessels." From March to October 1953 Jimmy Carter was training to be an engineering officer on the USS Seawolf, on a reactor plant that was a liquid sodium cooled fast reactor design. On October 9, 1953 his resignation was processed and he was released from naval obligations.

He spent less than 7 months training for a post that requires a two year course at naval reactor training school. He never served on a nuclear submarine, at the time he left the service the first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus, was still 11 months from being commissioned (September 30, 1954), and it had a pressured water reactor, a totally different design than the one he received preliminary training on. Nautilus first set sail under nuclear power January 17, 1955, a full 15 months after Jimmy Carter left the Navy.

None of this is to denigrate Jimmy Carter's service to our country, but mearly an attempt to correct the myth that he knew or knows the ins and outs of nuclear power as some guru.

The state of the art, in all fields of engineering but particularly in Fission, changed remarkably between October 1953, when he left the service, and January 1977 when he was sworn in as President. In the generation since that time engineering has continued to progress and what was only a daydream in 1953 was common place in 1977, and what was a daydream then is a practicle reallity today in 2007.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby cube » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 03:58:57

ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:...
Nuclear waste isn't a problem because of the actual waste, its a problem because tree-huggers don't think it ever should have been created in the first place, for any reason.
...
Engineering decisons are not always made by engineers.

Especially in the area of civil engineering where public works projects are concerned, they are quite often determined by political reasons.

Nuclear waste can actually be stored at ground level quite easily and cheaply. The ONLY reason why there is mandate to bury it way deep is pure politics.

As for the tree huggers, don't worry about them. Once PO hits and the "standard of living" that they have grown accustomed to, goes downhill....they'll give up their silly ideas.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 09:49:00

cube wrote:
ReserveGrowthRulz wrote:...
Nuclear waste isn't a problem because of the actual waste, its a problem because tree-huggers don't think it ever should have been created in the first place, for any reason.
...
Engineering decisons are not always made by engineers.

Especially in the area of civil engineering where public works projects are concerned, they are quite often determined by political reasons.

Nuclear waste can actually be stored at ground level quite easily and cheaply. The ONLY reason why there is mandate to bury it way deep is pure politics.

As for the tree huggers, don't worry about them. Once PO hits and the "standard of living" that they have grown accustomed to, goes downhill....they'll give up their silly ideas.


Very well stated, shorter than I would have said it but hit most of the main points. I am sad when I think of all the effort we have put forward to protect the environment and how short lived that protection now looks to be. It will all be ground to dust soon.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 12:04:34

Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Due to political reasons.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 12:28:05

oilfreeandhappy wrote:"No matter from which angle you look at reprocessing it is illogical. It's expensive, produces useless materials, releases vast quantities of waste into the environment, increases the total volume of waste, and increases nuclear proliferation risks. "

This statement, no matter how one would look on it, is illogical.

Expensive? Certainly cheaper than 500 000 years long storage.

Produce useless materials? Plutonium is very useful indeed. Some platinides by products are very useful (and scarce) as well.

Releases waste? More would be released if it is abandoned, and storing facilities desintegrated.

Increase a volume of waste? And reduces its radioactivity per volume unit X time.

Increase proliferation risk? Non proliferation is a part of American Dream (TM). Time to wake up...
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby nero » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 16:17:10

Nuclear waste disposal is hard because, once you've baked a radioactive hot potato, most people are smart enough not to want to take it off your hands.

The nuclear industry has to get away from the idea of ever being able to dispose of their waste. They will have to manage their waste for the next million years. So what is the best way they should manage their waste? For the Canadian industry, placing it in a deep mine in the geologically stable candian shield makes good sense. It makes even better sense if you have some fear that the nuclear industry might not be around for the next million years.

Placing the waste in a deep geological repository does not preclude you from retrieving and reprocessing it at some later date if that makes sense. But it is prudent for long term storage to be taken to a remote sight which is unlikely to be disturbed if the active human management disappears. We don't want some nincompoop going down in their pickup and plundering the nuclear waste if ever "stuff happens"
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby nero » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 16:28:44

Nuclear waste can actually be stored at ground level quite easily and cheaply. The ONLY reason why there is mandate to bury it way deep is pure politics.

As for the tree huggers, don't worry about them. Once PO hits and the "standard of living" that they have grown accustomed to, goes downhill....they'll give up their silly ideas.


Once PO hits and our "standard of living" goes down hill protecting the nuclear waste stored at ground level will be a distinct and growing problem.

As one of the "tree huggers" I can tell you that there are some of us who strongly support the idea of a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. It caused some quite fierce debate at the last Federal Green Party convention.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby zoidberg » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 19:14:12

nero wrote:Nuclear waste disposal is hard because, once you've baked a radioactive hot potato, most people are smart enough not to want to take it off your hands.

The nuclear industry has to get away from the idea of ever being able to dispose of their waste. They will have to manage their waste for the next million years. So what is the best way they should manage their waste? For the Canadian industry, placing it in a deep mine in the geologically stable candian shield makes good sense. It makes even better sense if you have some fear that the nuclear industry might not be around for the next million years.

Placing the waste in a deep geological repository does not preclude you from retrieving and reprocessing it at some later date if that makes sense. But it is prudent for long term storage to be taken to a remote sight which is unlikely to be disturbed if the active human management disappears. We don't want some nincompoop going down in their pickup and plundering the nuclear waste if ever "stuff happens"


Its good to hear a self confessed tree hugger saying it makes sense to dump, err safely place, it in the Shield. I was wondering if there was maybe some reason to fear it leaking into the water supply or something.

As for the pickup truck nincompoop looting it, well thats a Darwin award if I ever heard of one. :)
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby cube » Sat 13 Jan 2007, 21:59:00

nero wrote:....
Placing the waste in a deep geological repository does not preclude you from retrieving and reprocessing it at some later date if that makes sense. But it is prudent for long term storage to be taken to a remote sight which is unlikely to be disturbed if the active human management disappears. We don't want some nincompoop going down in their pickup and plundering the nuclear waste if ever "stuff happens"
If we assmune that the ultimate fate of all civilizations is to collapse then yes the "active human management" part will eventually disappear.

However in the initial stages of waste disposal..there is much heat generated by the "radioactive hot potato". It would be MUCH easier to place the waste above ground level for several decades to dissipate the heat then bury it deep. If the decision was made purely by engineers and not politicians then we'd have such a system. In fact if energy production in general was decided purely by engineers we'd probably go all nuclear and give up on coal. :wink:

Furthermore radioactive decay is not a linear relationship. Sure it may take thousands of years to completely dissipate...but alot of the "nastiness" actually goes away after only a couple decades...so it's not as bad as some tree-hugger makes it out to be. Those wackos act as if nuclear waste will kill everything within a 10,000 mile radius for the next 10,000 years....or whatever. :roll:

I firmly belive that in the long run...nuclear power will win out, simply because it will be the only option. When cheap fossil fuel energy runs out society will learn that windmills and solar panels cannot provide you with a 21st century "standard of living".
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby nero » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 01:59:42

cube wrote:However in the initial stages of waste disposal..there is much heat generated by the "radioactive hot potato". It would be MUCH easier to place the waste above ground level for several decades to dissipate the heat then bury it deep. If the decision was made purely by engineers and not politicians then we'd have such a system. In fact if energy production in general was decided purely by engineers we'd probably go all nuclear and give up on coal.


Agreed, temporary on-site storage after it comes out of the reactor is very necessary to allow it to cool down. I don't know how long exactly is required, at some point they leave the pools and are placed in sealed drums that are expected to fail in as little as fifty years. The above ground storage of these drums is the long term management problem that a centralized deep geological repository should address.

If we assume that the ultimate fate of all civilizations is to collapse then yes the "active human management" part will eventually disappear.

All human civilization doesn't have to disappear for it to be a problem, just the agency that is looking after the waste. Iraq's agency disappeared allowing looters to enter the site before it was secured again by the Americans.

I firmly belive that in the long run...nuclear power will win out, simply because it will be the only option. When cheap fossil fuel energy runs out society will learn that windmills and solar panels cannot provide you with a 21st century "standard of living".


While nuclear energy is theoretically quite attractive, the current paradigm of large expensive nuclear plants creates a power system that is fragile. In the longer run I think distributed power systems that don't rely on any large remote power sources for a large percentage of the power will be found to be more reliable and capable of adapting to disruptions. So if I was to bet on a good nuclear technology to back it would be a pebble bed reactor that is small, simple and secure enough to be used as a cogeneration plant for industrial processes. I rather think however that the security issue is nuclear power's Achille's heal. We live in the age of FUD and it's only getting worse.

zoidberg wrote:Its good to hear a self confessed tree hugger saying it makes sense to dump, err safely place, it in the Shield. I was wondering if there was maybe some reason to fear it leaking into the water supply or something.


Yes it is an issue that has to be addressed, and no technical solution that doesn't involve monitoring and the ability to retrieve the waste is in my view out of step with the times. As for the fear of leaking, it is something that could occur while the barrels are sitting in a wharehouse in Pickering. The waste will have to be monitored no matter where we store it, the question is which location is more secure.
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby cube » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 04:08:11

nero wrote:...
While nuclear energy is theoretically quite attractive, the current paradigm of large expensive nuclear plants creates a power system that is fragile. In the longer run I think distributed power systems that don't rely on any large remote power sources for a large percentage of the power will be found to be more reliable and capable of adapting to disruptions.
...
*silly grin*
The concept of "decentralization" seems quite popular amongst cetain circles.....not just in energy production but other areas. I remember in the early days of the internet many "experts" envisioned a future world of decentralization because now (anybody not just a large company) can afford to set up a website to deliver content, thus creating their own business.

how naive....but the dream was fun while it lasted :-D

Getting back to energy production. I do not believe that a centralized system is inherently flawed. A system with absolutely no "back up" can still be amazingly reliable with proper attention and maintenance.

I believe the recent "break down" in our infrastructure has nothing to do with it's centralized nature but instead due to a society that has passed it's economic peak. Converting to a decentralized system will not solve anything.

my 2 cents
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Re: Why is nuclear waste disposal so hard?

Unread postby nero » Sun 14 Jan 2007, 11:52:47

In a situation where providing security to a continent wide infrastructure is very expensive, (like in Iraq or Nigeria where insurgents and looters attack undefended infrastructure) a distributed system will be more economic. If we were seriously worried about terrorists or enemy agents attacking us we would have to do so as well. Too many soft targets around here.
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Nuclear waste? What nuclear waste?

Unread postby Cyrus » Sun 10 Jun 2007, 14:12:01

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Re: Nuclear waste? What nuclear waste?

Unread postby steam_cannon » Sun 10 Jun 2007, 18:50:59

Quit being so reactive, we have the same problem of hydrogen build ups in storage tanks as the Russians. What's the big deal! :lol:

new scientist wrote:There is a 50% chance of a major accident while the US government attempts to clean up its dirtiest nuclear site over the next three decades, a new study concludes.

He also highlights numerous other risks, including the potential build-up of flammable gases in Hanford's underground storage tanks. In October 2003, one tank was discovered to contain sufficient concentrations hydrogen to burn

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6199
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