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What To Do with Nuclear Waste???

By Larraine Roulston:

Several years ago, Dr. Gordon Edwards, co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility stated, “There will come a day when this industry will be searching widely for host locations to bury its radioactive waste.” That day has arrived.

Radioactive waste is everywhere – the result of building nuclear weapons and power plants. This has been an ongoing challenge,

Picture from huffingtonpost.com
Picture from huffingtonpost.com

and still no one has found a safe storage site in the world. For far too long, we have been relying on nuclear power without considering the consequences of its high unmanageable costs, risks and ultimately toxic waste disposal.

After Fukushima, German officials declared they no longer would build nuclear power plants; however, radioactive waste still remains an enormous problem. For several years, Germany has been embroiled in a fight over who will pay for cleaning up the spent nuclear fuel from their nine remaining decommissioned plants. Fifty years after using nuclear power, this country is looking for a suitable waste storage facility that must be able to contain radiation for a million years.

The United States recently announced that it is looking into the environmental risks of importing Germany’s spent nuclear fuel containing highly enriched uranium to its Savannah River Site (SRS).  This 310-acre location not only holds millions of gallons of high level nuclear waste from its South Carolina reactors that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from1953 to 1989, but also stores nuclear waste from many other countries. Despite already accumulating a large volume of nuclear waste, the SRS is in an area subject to frequent rainfalls, overlaps an earthquake zone, and has sandy soil with swampy conditions that make it vulnerable to waste seepage into the water supply. One report noted the following: “With the U.S. being the country of origin for much of the world’s nuclear material, this means all our nuclear chickens are coming home to roost.”

Say no to nuclear wasteTom Clements, president of the Savannah River Site Watch, a nuclear watchdog group said, “They’re proposing to extract the uranium and reuse it as a fuel by a process that has never been done before.  On the German side, it is nuclear dumping and on the U.S. side the primary motivation is to make money for the SRS to continue operating the so-called H Canyon reprocessing plant.” He added that the SRS already has more nuclear waste than it knows how to deal with and should not be allowed to increase its volume. According to SRS Watch, the import may be a violation of the International Convention on Nuclear Safety as well as the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

Another consideration is the transportation of any highly toxic material. In the past we have had airplane crashes, train derailments, ships lost at sea, tanker collisions in harbors, and road accidents. With climate change as well — with unexpected flooding, tornadoes and such — the entire scenario has become an epic nightmare. We must put our money and research into alternative energy that will create jobs, and stop subsidizing nuclear power plants.

Energy conservation and efficiency also play a key role in our effort to become less power hungry and ensure a safe environment for generations to come. One household energy savings tip reminds us that clothes dryers use a lot of energy.  As an alternative, hang your laundry outside for the fresh smell of summer air. For rainy days and winter weather, invest in a clothes rack.

Related links:

http://www.ccnr.org

www.srswatch.org

Alternative Energies

Larraine Roulston authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series at www.castlecompost.com 

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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One comment

  1. Thank you, again, Larraine for another article that should give pause to anyone who reads it. I admit, I use a dryer, but i use it sparingly and compromise by using less energy in other areas of my home. But still, we have become so used to flipping on that switch and expecting that light to come on, we all tend to forget where that energy came from, and at what cost.

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