Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth China Power Science

Waste Management: The Critical Element For Nuclear Energy Expansion 281

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-that-anywhere dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes "As part of a roundtable on the risks of developing nuclear power in developing countries, Harvard's Yun Zhou explores the reprocessing of spent fuel. Zhou points out that no country in the world has come up with a permanent solution to nuclear waste in either of its two forms: the spent fuel that emerges directly from reactor cores and the high-level radioactive waste that results when spent fuel is reprocessed. Zhou points out that China and France have just announced a joint effort to establish a reprocessing plant, but that option isn't really practical for the developing world."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Waste Management: The Critical Element For Nuclear Energy Expansion

Comments Filter:
  • by Thantik (1207112) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:19PM (#46855305)
    Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans. Not just a little unusable either. It does it for such a long time that it might as well be considered permanent. Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.
    • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:27PM (#46855335) Homepage Journal
      Actually seems that waste from coal plants is even more radioactive than the ones from nuclear plants [scientificamerican.com], and that waste goes to the environment instead of being restricted in small areas.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This get me curious... what has more unusable land... the "Magic Forest" around Chernobyl, or the land that can't be used due to tainted wells and such in Pennsylvania, not to mention the ever-so-toxic areas with mine tailings. Places like Centralia, PA come to mind as well.

        I'd say that there was less environmental damage from the worst nuclear disaster in human history than the status quo in other energy methods.

        • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:41PM (#46855681)

          There's really no comparison. Hydroelectric killed 280,000 people at Banquai. (Or was it 180,000?). Nuclear power has killed dozens of people in 50 years. Coal? Ever heard of Black Lung? Nuclear has proven to be orders of magnitude safer than any other option for bulk power.

          Solar can provide about 5% of our energy needs, but for the vast majority of our power, we can choose between oil, coal, natural gas, or nuclear. Of the options that can provide significant power, nuclear is by far the safest option, by a very large margin.

          • I've already posted this below but just to repeat it so this 5% nonsense doesn't gain any more traction...

            I'm afraid you underestimate the staggering power of the grand daddy of all nuclear power plants, the one that rises and sets each day. Covering some tiny percentage of the uninhabited portions of the Sahara for example, approximately the size of Wales, would supply Europe's baseload, and that's with relatively inefficient PV cells.

            http://www.dailytech.com/EU+Of... [dailytech.com]

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Charliemopps (1157495)

              Solar power people are as deluded as the religious zealots they hate so much. Ever looked up what it takes to produce a solar cell? The amount of silver? The mining of the silver is so destructive that solar power is one of the worst forms of energy for the environment. Coals worst of course. Nuclear is almost totally nurtral. The few accidents we've had with it have been on 40yr old 1st generation reactors, all of them. Modern reactors can't fail. We, unfortunately, don't build any of them however. Because

              • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:18PM (#46856087)

                Modern reactors can't fail.

                This. Right here. This is the attitude that makes so many people distrustful of nuclear proponents.

                I know you said we don't actually build "modern" reactors, but ANY design of reactor can fail, because people run them, boards that demand profit oversee management, and sometimes people fly airplanes into buildings.

                • by duke_cheetah2003 (862933) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:36PM (#46856407) Homepage

                  I think he meant, new reactor designs do not fail catastrophically. The built in *PASSIVE* safety of these new designs would mean it take a deliberate act (sabotage) to cause a reactor to fail in a way that involves the release of radioactive materials.

                  You can't put fail and sabotage together and say the reactor is unsafe. *ANYTHING* is unsafe if it's sabotaged correctly.

                  • by Ihlosi (895663)
                    You can't put fail and sabotage together and say the reactor is unsafe. *ANYTHING* is unsafe if it's sabotaged correctly.

                    Risk is harm*probability. Now consider the maximum harm caused by sabotaging, say, a 1 GW nuclear plant, a 1 GW coal/NG plant, or a few thousand wind turbines. Except for the first option, you won't come up with a mode of sabotage that will take a few decades to clean up the resulting mess.

                    • by Rich0 (548339)

                      You can't put fail and sabotage together and say the reactor is unsafe. *ANYTHING* is unsafe if it's sabotaged correctly.

                      Risk is harm*probability. Now consider the maximum harm caused by sabotaging, say, a 1 GW nuclear plant, a 1 GW coal/NG plant, or a few thousand wind turbines. Except for the first option, you won't come up with a mode of sabotage that will take a few decades to clean up the resulting mess.

                      So, just build the nuclear plants in the middle of military bases.

                      If terrorists really want to kill a lot of people all they have to do is steal a strategic nuclear warhead. They're far more effective than sabotaging a nuclear power plant at killing people and contaminating huge areas. The reason terrorists don't do that is that we lock them up, and somehow for the last 50 years both the US and USSR managed to do that in a way that kept the nutcases out.

                      If security really were the issue with nuclear, it w

                    • Nuclear tests excluded, Chernobyl and Fukushima are the only two nuclear incidents with wide-ranging environmental effects. Chernobyl is mainly due to operator error and reckless disregard for even the most basic safety instructions (postmortem investigation found no evidence of any control rods in the core despite the manufacturer's manual saying a minimum of 20 or so control rods must be inserted at all times), trying to rush a 12+ hours ramp-down procedure in less than four hours while most of Fukushima'

                • by thegarbz (1787294)

                  Please tell me you didn't just claim "OMG TERRORISM" as a reason to abandon a source of power. That is just delusional. If anything what nuclear has told us that with multiple reactor meltdowns having caused but a handful of deaths around the world it's one of the least likely terrorism targets around.

                  Now what we really should be doing is outfitting every hydroelectric dam with frigging lasers. Those things are deadly if the terrorist get their hands on it, or the x-men start waging a war inside them.

              • by lgw (121541)

                Photoelectric isn't there yet. Might not be in my lifetime.

                But solar thermal? A black pipe and a mirrored trench? Works for anyone, developed or otherwise. No, it's not cheaper than the price of natural gas today, but no rush. No, you can't really do it at home scale, but as an inexhaustible low-tech power generation solution to fall back on? It's got us covered.

                Personally, I think fossil fuels will be fine for the 50-100 years that fusion is still 20 years away, but just in case I'm wrong, the fallba

                • > Photoelectric isn't there yet. Might not be in my lifetime.

                  Isn't where? It's reach parity for about half the planet, and the other half's maybe 5 years out.

                  > But solar thermal? A black pipe and a mirrored trench? Works for anyone

                  For very specific roles. Unlike PV, solar thermal is effectively a heat engine, and therefore is dependant on the energy difference between the input and the output (sink). In the case of concentrators, this means they only really work in bright direct sunlight. So if they'r

              • by dryeo (100693)

                Do you think that mining uranium is safe? Radon exposure, heavy metal poisoning, then there are the acids etc that are used. Don't be misled by the people who claim that nuclear is perfectly safe without mentioning accidents such as Church Rock as if someone is lying, why believe anything they say.

                • by raymorris (2726007) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:19AM (#46856567)

                  Church Rock mine? Are you kidding?

                  Coal mining: 500,000 victims of black lung
                  Hydroelectric: 300,000+ killed
                  Church Rock and all other uranium mining: 0. Maybe a cow.

                  Yeah, the uranium sure as heck looks like the safest option to me.

                  • by dryeo (100693)

                    Residents who waded in the river after the spill went to the hospital complaining of burning feet and were misdiagnosed with heat stroke.[14] Burns acquired by some of those who came into contact with the contaminated water developed serious infections and required amputations.[21] Herds of sheep and cattle died after drinking the contaminated water, and children played in pools of contaminated water.[22][32] The spill contaminated shallow aquifers near the river that residents drank and used to water livestock.

                    As long as you bullshit, your points, some of which are good, are going to be ignored.

                  • There are plenty of deaths in uranium mining, you only need to google for it. Ah, well, you mean the australian aboriginees don't count?

                • by thegarbz (1787294)

                  I don't need to be mislead. The data published is in the form of deaths per terra-watt-hours generated. Taking into account mining nuclear is MUCH safer as you can generate a crapload more power from a smaller mining operation.

                  I really hate the one sided propaganda the greenies spout about nuclear mining. In Australia they took a whole brigade of people into the bush and showed them the wonders of nature, then they took them to a uranium mine and said "Nuclear bad mkay!" No one mentioned that you could clos

              • Solar power people are as deluded as the religious zealots they hate so much. Ever looked up what it takes to produce a solar cell? The amount of silver? The mining of the silver is so destructive that solar power is one of the worst forms of energy for the environment. Coals worst of course. Nuclear is almost totally nurtral. The few accidents we've had with it have been on 40yr old 1st generation reactors, all of them. Modern reactors can't fail. We, unfortunately, don't build any of them however. Because people like you drag your misinformed hippy mother earth religion into the frey. I'm sick of it, if solar worked my roof would be covered with solar cells and I'd be getting rich of selling it to all my neighbors. What do I get instead? A $30,000, very ugly roof so I can save $30 a month on my electric bill. It's THAT GOD DAMNED OBVIOUS.

                I want some of the drugs you're taking. Even if we built a "perfect" nuclear plant - and we don't bother to build "perfect" anything elses, the PHB's would staff them with Homer Simpsons, just like we outsource critical technology projects to whatever not-entirely-friendly country happens to provide the cheapest labor.

                And what's silver mining got to do with solar? Silver is not only one of the more expensive electrical materials, it oxidizes. Safer/cheaper conductors can be employed and generally are.

                As for

              • > Solar power people

                I've never met anyone that's solar powered.

                > Ever looked up what it takes to produce a solar cell?

                Yes.

                > The amount of silver?

                Is tiny. There's about 10 billion ounces mined every year, of which about 100 million is used in cells. What is used in cells is easily recycled.

                > Nuclear is almost totally nurtral

                Glad to hear it.

                > Because people like you drag your misinformed hippy mother earth religion

                I think it has a lot more to do with the overnight costs and the fact that we're

            • What I'm getting from your article is that theoretical technologies, combined with outsourcing power production to a geo-politically hostile region, combined with dubious power transmission, could supply Europe's baseload (note: read your own article, it was focusing on parabolic dish collectors, not PV cells).
              • Nothing theoretical about them. The geopolitics is an issue but it shouldn't be in places like the US. HVDC lines have been built and work great, and are being built in many places around the world.

                Bottom line boys and girls, we're drowning in energy whether shining from on high or blown in by the wind.

            • Yeah, covering thousands of square miles with solar panels would provide a significant amount of power - from 11AM to 2PM. For the other 21 hours per day, the choices are coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear.

              You do far more harm to your cause than the good you're trying to do when you mistakenly or purposefully misrepresent its capabilities. Solar is a good way to supplement primary power sources, in some situations. In a few cases, like a cabin in the wilderness, it makes sense as a primary power source. I

              • solar fucking thermal.

                • Absolutely. If people gave a shit about the environment they'd use and promote solar thermal, which actually works. It can be as simple as an exterior water tank painted black, so it preheats the water before it enters the natural gas water heater.

                  Becauseit's simple and actually works, it's less fun to talk about than perpetual motion, aliens, Nikola Tesla, and magical solar panels that work at night.

            • I'm afraid you underestimate the staggering power of the grand daddy of all nuclear power plants

              You know who doesn't underestimate that power? All of the birds dying at California solar plants. [gizmodo.com]

          • comets have killed 0 people in the last 50 years... With nuclear the probability for a serious accident is non zero, and the stakes are much higher than coal for instance.

            it can and should be done, but let's not whitewash the risks here. it's sufficiently risky that perhaps it should be done on a government level, and letting private companies cut corners on safety and inspections isn't in our best interest.

            I'm very much pro-nuclear and pro-reprocessing -- but i don't think that it's wise to say that becau

            • > With nuclear the probability for a serious accident is non zero, and the stakes are much higher than coal for instance.

              Higher than coal, you day. Let's compare coal. There have been about 500,000 casualties from black lung, and the indirect, environmental damage is incalculable. Compare to about 200 people from nuclear power. Right now there are 600 nuclear power plants operating, and we've had nuclear power for about 50 years, so we have a good basis of comparison. Nuclear is, by the numbers, at le

          • by dryeo (100693)

            If you're going to reference black lung and damn failures, you should really reference similar things in the nuclear industry. How many people have died from mining uranium? And yes the Navajo are people so should be counted. Unluckily it is hard to count as they usually die later from cancer and such and the government and especially private industry don't want to admit that radon exposure kills as well that Uranium causes heavy metal poisoning.. Then we can get to accidents such as Church Rock, killed one

      • by MrKaos (858439)

        Actually seems that waste from coal plants is even more radioactive than the ones from nuclear plants [scientificamerican.com], and that waste goes to the environment instead of being restricted in small areas.

        The editors note in the Scientific American article is qualifies itself by referring to reactors in normal operation and not the entire Nuclear industry, it's accidents or production byproducts from enrichment. Furthermore radioactive isotopes in coal ash are not enriched like those used in Nuclear reactors.

        The actual state of affairs with Nuclear waste is much more serious than the S.A article would lead you to believe and this sobering article from National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com] reveals the current state of Nuclear

        • by sjames (1099) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:07AM (#46856513) Homepage

          Most of that 'Waste' is fuel that should be 'burned' in a reactor. The tailings came out of the ground in a mine and when the mine is depleted, they can go back in. The area will be less radioactive than it was before we started. The depleted uranium is just metal, nothing special about it except that it's density makes it a pretty good material for armor piercing rounds. We can use it for things like that, bury it, or breed it into fuel (or particalize it and blow it into the air like coal plants do, but I don't recommend that one). The liquid waste is mostly water, if we apply a bit of energy to it (perhaps from a nuclear reactor), we can diminish that considerably and have a more manageable waste. The tools and such are low level waste. We don't want kids playing with it, but it's not worse in general than the various carcinogenic waste from coal and oil.

          It's amazing how bad you can make anything look if you're willing to stretch the truth. Just think of the many gallons of toxic waste created when you build a solar thermal plant (and by toxic waste, I mean in the porta-pottys).

          • by MrKaos (858439)

            It's amazing how bad you can make anything look if you're willing to stretch the truth.

            What are you suggesting?

            • by sjames (1099)

              That while that 'sobering article' wasn't quite a lie, it was edging very close to the line to make the nuclear waste situation look much worse than it actually is.

              • by MrKaos (858439)

                That while that 'sobering article' wasn't quite a lie, it was edging very close to the line to make the nuclear waste situation look much worse than it actually is.

                That's interesting, is there something specific to draw attention to?

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Up a few posts in the thread, I enumerated them showing that most of that waste is either not actually waste, not radioactive, or not radioactive enough to warrant such concern.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Two problems with that. Firstly you have to design, build and prove a commercial scale reactor capable of burning this waste. So far no-one has managed to do that, and the smaller scale ones have all had serious issues. With the "threat" from renewables and the shear cost of such a project it is hard to get investors interested.

            The second problem is that the types of reactors used for burning otherwise spent nuclear fuel tend to become highly radioactive themselves. That makes maintenance extremely difficul

      • Not true. The article made an unfair comparison. Read the editorial comment at the end. Coal plants release more radiation into the environment because the waste from nuclear power plants is not released into the environment. Radioactive waste is stored, and only a small amount of radiation escapes from storage as long as there is not an accident. If the waste from a nuclear power plant were dumped into the environment, they'd put out far more radioactive pollution than coal ever could.

        When there is

        • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday April 28, 2014 @06:45AM (#46857387) Journal

          Coal plants cannot do that kind of damage.

          Coal mines and coal mining can however.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

          Seriously, though if you're trying to make nuclear energy look bad, please don't compare it to coal unless you're trying to actually make it look good. Ignoring the mine fires which have rendered quite large areas utterly uninhabitable and are projected to last for centuries (not to mention afterwards leaving the ground dangeroudly prone to sinkholes for milennia).

          You might want to read this too:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

          Basically, it's a question of scale.

          https://xkcd.com/1162/ [xkcd.com]

          Nuclear energy is many many orders of magnitude more energy dense than coal. What people generally don't realise is quite how vast the scale of coal mining is. You need a lot to generate energy for an entire country. Not just a lot, but the most insanely huge unimaginable amounts. The sheer scale of the thing is incredible.

          As a result the coal energy industry churns through many billions of tons of rock, coal and ash each year. With that come all sorts of nasty things including radioactivity and heavy metal contamination both of which do leave land more or less unusable. Then there's the other bits and bobs like fly ash slurry spills and so on.

          The only reason you don't hear about it as much is that most of the mining now happens in poor countries or in the middle of absoloutely nowhere (i.e. Austrailia). Coal mining is so polluting and so destructive there is no way it can happen anywhere near civilisation in a developed country now.

          It's actually easy to crunch the numbers. In terms of deaths per kWh and land rendered unusable, and a whole bunch of other things, nuclear wins.

          Yes there will be accidents. Better engineering will reduce the rate and severity of accidents because engineering tries to compensate for the human factor and others. It's impossible not to have accidents when you're talking about supplying power to billions of people for a hundred years. Such things are not possible.

          But if you opt away from nuclear, you're choosing to pander to your fears with the deaths of energy workers, without actually making the situations you fear any better.

    • by ray-auch (454705) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:35PM (#46855375)

      TANSTAAFL. Coal and oil are pretty good at rendering large areas uninhabitable. Water (tidal and hydro) is pretty good at major ecosystem change and rendering areas uninhabitable. Wind and solar might look like ok in the area of _deployment_, but if you look at the manufacturing... [ok, I'll save you googling it, here's one that took me all of 30secs to find: http://www.worldwatch.org/node... [worldwatch.org] ]

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:06PM (#46855533)

      but when they fail (and they always seem to

      Hmm, 600-odd nuclear reactors in the world. And they always fail? Odd that I've only heard of three failures, including one that was self-inflicted (if you put a reactor into an unsafe condition to test whether you can extract power from a reactor while it's melting down, don't be terribly surprised if it melts down).

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        Odd that I've only heard of three failures,

        It wasn't a failure, but there was almost a huge disaster in the UK. [wikipedia.org]As for your three, I assume your list is Fukashima, Cernobyl and Three Mile Island?

        • by nukenerd (172703)

          there was almost a huge disaster in the UK. [wikipedia.org]

          I wasn't "almost" a huge disaster, it was a huge disaster, about as bad as a nuclear disaster can get - the fuel on fire.

          Yet here we are. I've had holidays not far from there. People still work at the site (as they do at Chernobyl), and people still live around it. I worked there myself for a short time, as I have at other nuclear plants. If anybody died because of Windscale it is lost in the "statistical" noise of general deaths - frustrating verifiable statistical analysis by even the most avid ant

    • by sploxx (622853)

      I would say we have no other option than nuclear and this will become VERY evident in the next decade or so.

      Oil prices are going up. The talk about peak oil does make sense.

      But peak uranium and thorium are still a VERY LONG way out!

      As soon as it really starts to impact our lifestyle, I bet that people will start building nuclear power plants again. Our current squabbles and distake for nuclear power is just the sign of decadent NIMBYs.

      People talk about (nuclear) WW3 because of Ukraine. So that would be a de

      • The biggest issue with regards to oil & gas shortages is not power generation related. Oil & gas represent our current best option for mobile energy. Even if we converted all oil & gas power generation to nuclear we will still consume a huge amount of Oil/Gas.

        Without cost effective transport our economies and life style will collapse. Until we find a high efficiency, fast charge battery type option or some other way of storing energy for transport we actively need oil.

        I personally feel that b

        • by sploxx (622853)

          There are options to generate synthetic fuel using nuclear power, though!

          • Are there? The only ones I was aware of were coal to oil type conversions or hydrogen production. What options are there for a petroleum substitute that doesn't require something like coal?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MrKaos (858439)

      Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans. Not just a little unusable either. It does it for such a long time that it might as well be considered permanent. Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

      This is insightful, not funny - please moderate appropriately - Thanks!

      • Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans. Not just a little unusable either. It does it for such a long time that it might as well be considered permanent. Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

        This is insightful, not funny - please moderate appropriately - Thanks!

        I disagree with your assertion that it is an insightful post. It is not. "Wrong", "blinkered" or "Koolaid-stained" would be more accurate.

        • by MrKaos (858439)

          Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans. Not just a little unusable either. It does it for such a long time that it might as well be considered permanent. Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

          This is insightful, not funny - please moderate appropriately - Thanks!

          I disagree with your assertion that it is an insightful post. It is not. "Wrong", "blinkered" or "Koolaid-stained" would be more accurate.

          Then let's examine your assertion of the OP with the facts.

          Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans.

          Chernobyl fall-out area 2640 Square kilometres of farmland, 1900 sqkm of forest and an uninhabitable city [wikipedia.org]. So the OP's first point, check.

          (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners)

          To save money on construction cost

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

      You forgot "completely unreliable" and "unsuitable for most energy needs".

    • Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

      Friend, please take a look at my mini-essay Electricity in the Time of Cholera [slashdot.org].

      We're talking about 7 billion people here. We all want access to clean water, sanitation, washing machines and electric lights. Half of the women in the world today wash clothes by hand [youtube.com]. In rural areas 7 of 8 Africans, half of all South Asians, in total an estimated 1.5 billion people [energyfordevelopment.com] lack access to electricity.

      What is the combined ecological impact of 1.5 billion rural people living without hope of electrification? They're bur

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans.

      We've moved on since Chernobyl.

      Nuclear is the still the safest source of power available in existence, even if we had another chernobyl or two Nuclear would still retain the title of safest and cleanest energy source.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        We've moved on since Chernobyl

        Oh really? How many US nuclear reactors were built after 1986 then?

        Personally I think this stupid head in the sand attitude is holding nuclear back. You can't talk about nuclear safety without being branded a heretic (eg. the people running the thorium project a few years ago) so improvement is very slow.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Nuclear plants might be safer/cleaner than coal and all, but when they fail (and they always seem to, due to people attempting to cut costs and corners) it leaves areas of land unusable to us humans. Not just a little unusable either. It does it for such a long time that it might as well be considered permanent. Solar, Water, Wind are all completely renewable sources of energy that upon failure...don't destroy the ecosystem around it.

      Actually, hydro makes more land unusable for humans as a matter of normal

  • About a decade or so ago I recall reading an article that suggested cutting a hole into the earths surface where it's thinnest and dropping the stuff directly into the magma. At that point it would just be a matter of building a good air seal to keep any remaining toxic or radioactive gasses from escaping.
    • An technical article or a chapter in some random science fiction magazine? You don't 'cut a hole' into the earth's surface where the crust is thinnest - that happens to be deep underwater.

      And it would be quite a bit more effort than 'just' building an air seal.

      In fact, it's a perfectly insane concept. You might consider putting the material near a subducting tectonic plate and plan on the downward flow of material trapping and subsequently diluting the radioactive material. You don't have to drill a big

      • by Kaenneth (82978)

        Why not drop sealed casks into 5 mile deep trenches?

        It's not like there are monsterous creatures lurking in the depths that it would be unwise to awaken.

        • Why not drop sealed casks into 5 mile deep trenches?

          It's not like there are monsterous creatures lurking in the depths that it would be unwise to awaken.

          Why not just use the so called "waste"? Most of it could be reused in a reactor along the lines of the integral fast reactor. Sadly, that reactor never came to being due to political interests trumping all others.

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          It moves up the food chain over time. Small deep critters carry hot particles up to the larger more shallow big fish. Over years even basic ww2 chemical weapons dumps in the ocean have been found to spread in unexpected ways. All the ideas for waste dumps have been thought of.
          Most solutions are about re use (France, Russia) or long term storage off site (USA). The main issue is the past need for nuclear weapons and the tech the USA used and did not want use. The US is left with a lot of hot waste to
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You might consider putting the material near a subducting tectonic plate and plan on the downward flow of material trapping and subsequently diluting the radioactive material. You don't have to drill a big hole, you 'just' have to wait a couple of thousand years while the material gets incorporated into the plate, all the while worrying about leakage of the containers.

        Obviously you have to drop a big mass of harmless material on top of it, something that will keep containers from spewing into the ocean as they pop. But so far this still seems like the best available option. That part of the planet is full of radioactives anyway.

    • They already tried that in a movie back in the '60s, and things went terribly wrong, Crack in the World: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

      No, not THAT crack.

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:28PM (#46855337)

    Throw it into the Sun, maybe? - Zoidberg

    • Re:Nuclear waste (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:56PM (#46855485)

      This would entail the risk of failure in the launch phase which could rain down a nasty amount of stuff anywhere on Earth.

      MAYBE when we have a viable Space Elevator would folk give careful consideration to this. Until then, forget about it.

      But even then, you'd still have the expense of the Delta-V to get it to fall into the Sun. It almost certainly would be cheaper to send the stuff to Alpha Centuari than to the Sun.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        But even then, you'd still have the expense of the Delta-V to get it to fall into the Sun. It almost certainly would be cheaper to send the stuff to Alpha Centuari than to the Sun.

        I've done the math. It would (IIRC, it's actually more fuel efficient to almost escape from the Solar System, then fall back into the Sun, than it is to try directly falling into the Sun from Earth). However, you wouldn't have to send the waste into the sun, merely "not Earth" would be enough (still very expensive, though). It's not going to hurt much floating in orbit between here and Mars, for instance.

    • by Stellian (673475)

      Actually, pack it into a copper cylinder [wikipedia.org] and bury it in a whole in a granite bedrock [wikipedia.org]. Should be safe just about until the end of the world really, disposal is the best understood and cheap component of the nuclear cycle.

      The whole article is more about FUD and NIMBYism than real nuclear technology.

  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tokolosh (1256448) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:36PM (#46855385)

    "no country in the world has come up with a political solution to nuclear waste" FTFY

    The technology is relatively simple. But then so are the opponents.

    • by fermion (181285)
      The article is pretty plain. Reprocessing is expensive and will require multinational commitments. In absence of such commitments, interim storage is the solution. Interim and longer term storage is a political decision. In the US that decision is as simple as coming up with a consensus location, condemning the land, and building a storage facility using existing technology. Since the mid 80's no republican or democratic administration has been able to make this political decision.
      • by symbolset (646467) *
        integral fast reactors [wikipedia.org] reprocess the fuel onsite cheaply. And they can use spent fuel as input. And they can reprocess spent fuel into new fuel for use in boiling water reactors, so no more Uranium need be mined.
  • by marcgvky (949079) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:49PM (#46855447) Journal
    We spent billions on that facility and it can store most waste (including spent fuel) for 1000's of years. Use it!
    • As long as Harry Reid is in the Senate, that will never happen. He has enough connections and power to block Yucca Mountain.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Apparently it's a bit wet. Synroc can deal with that situation but not conventional vitrified waste.
  • A huge first step, which some world-famous environmentalists are now taking, is to clear up the political problem by cutting out the BS, deliberately misleading people. For decades, Greenpeace went around telling people how dangerous some nuclear waste is, as and how some of it lasts for thousands of years. Now the fouunder of Greenpeace explaining that the claim was a bunch of BS. More people need to follow his lead and start telling the truth.

    For anyone unfamiliar with the Big Lie, radioactive materials

  • The process has major advantages. It uses an inherently safe reactor design and is net energy positive.

    Don't understand why there is only on place on earth where this is seriously investigated and scaled up. [wavewatching.net]

  • Yes, I know, "totally infeasible due to launch costs". However, this uses the premise of current launch system and that the waste actually has to be in solid/liquid form.
    Has anyone considered building an ion accelerator and shoot the waste into space as a stream of ions? The energy necessary for the waste to disappear into space would be a couple of magnitude below scientific particle accelerators. The only large obstacle is earths atmosphere.

I'm all for computer dating, but I wouldn't want one to marry my sister.

Working...