"It may not be promoting climate chaos/disruption but it most assuredly is promoting the death of sea life/water and land: Think Fukushima, think Chernobyl, Three Mile Island"
That’s a very interesting theory and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was their opinion. Unfortunately its an opinion that is has little to no evidence and is in fact contradictive to statistical data on nuclear energy effect on the environment.
- Nuclear in fact has one of the lowest mortality rates among all energy sources including both level 7 nuclear accidents.
- Nuclear also has one of the lowest lifecycle GHG emissions of all energy sources.
- Nuclear produces the least amount of waste per KWh of production.
Additionally, “And how can we possibly think we can safely store it while mass producing it and when it has such a long life span”.
Yet another common point made against the nuclear industry that illustrates a complete misunderstanding of nuclear waste and potential solutions.
- The half life of the material does not determine the danger of the material, nor does all waste have a long half life.
- Nuclear waste is not a single mass material, but rather a mixture of hundreds of different types of isotopes each with their own decay rate. When we talk about the decay heat that was a problem in Fukushima- this heat is made as fission products rapidly decay within seconds to a few days and as a result of decaying release energy. When we talk about actual spent fuel waste this does not last for thousands of years.
- 98% of all high level waste is made of isotopes that can be used for nuclear fuel. That is Uranium 238 fertile fuel, Uranium 235 fissile fuel and Plutonium 239 fissile fuel. This means we can separate these isotopes and fission them. When we fission U-235 and Pu-239 the decay rates for their products greatly diminishes. China, UK, France, Russia, India and Japan already do this with some of their U-235 and U-238 nuclear waste, and the USA also used to do this until the 1970s.
As for “no solution” this is not true at all. Now I’m not even going to get into the political BS that was the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Deep Geological Depository, but the fact remains that the Nuclear industry has paid $30 billion for that project that was promised, but now terminated by the US government. So either that money needs to be spent for other nuclear energy development or the nuclear industry gets a rebate. Personally I did not even fully support the Yucca Mountain Depository deal, because imo its a huge waste of resources.
As mentioned above we can use reprocessing to separate and reuse 98% of the high level waste for fuel in both thermal and fast spectrum reactors that will produce electricity. Additionally advanced forms of reprocessing like pyro-processing enable us to separate more than just transuranic and fuel from the waste stream. We can also separate fission products that have real world application. Products such as Cesium 137 that can be used in agriculture for food irradiation that kills e coli on foreign imports. Strontium 90 that can be used in gauges to determine if there are internal fractures in concrete. Iodine 131 that can be used to treat thyroid cancer. Technetium 99 and Molybdenum 103 that can be used for neurological procedures. Xenon 134 that can be used for spacecraft, high efficiency windows or lighting. Neodynmium142 that can be used in the manufacturing of sound equipment etc. Many fission products have application and we in fact currently use radioactive material in out products. The difference is that we understand how radiation works so that we can determine if there is a risk to people or not.
Reprocessing will help with some fission products and nuclear fuel, but there are some waste products that can last a very long time still, so what do we do with transuranic waste? We burn it. This does NOT mean put radioactive material in a kiln and light it on fire. Combustion burning is a chemical reaction on the molecular level. In the nuclear industry, when they talk about burning it is on the atomic level. Nuclear burning is the process of manipulating neutrons in radioactive isotopes usually with the plan to reduce decay rate of the material. We already do this although not for the reason I just mentioned. Plutonium 239 is created, when Uranium 238 is hit by a neutron. U-238 then becomes U-239, which instead of having a 4.5 billion year half life it has only a 4.6 minute half life. U-239 then decays into Neptunium 239 and then into Pu-239. In Advanced Burner Reactors the goal is to take a transuranic substance like Americium 241 and add a neutron to create Americium 242. Am-241’s half life is 432 years, but Am-242’s half life is 16.7 hours.