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Nuclear waste requires cradle-to-grave strategy
Date:8/14/2011

Los Angeles, CA (July 1, 2011) After Fukushima, it is now imperative to redefine what makes a successful nuclear power program - from cradle to grave. If nuclear waste management is not thought out from the beginning, the public in many countries will reject nuclear power as an energy choice, according to research that appears today in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE.

According to Allison Macfarlane, associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, and a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, coming up with storage solutions for nuclear waste continues to be a last-minute decision in a number of countries besides Japan. It is surprisingly common for reactor sites to be overburdened with spent fuel with no clear disposal plan. In South Korea, for example, storage at the nation's four nuclear plants is filling up, leading to a potential storage crisis within the next decade.

The United Arab Emirates broke ground for the first of four nuclear reactors on March 14, 2011 but has not prioritized storage. Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and current chairman of the UAE's International Advisory Board, noted: "The question of a final disposal plan is still open and more attention should be spent on deciding what to do."

Some very low level nuclear wastes can go into landfill-type settings. But low level wastes, composed of low concentrations of long-lived radionuclides and higher concentrations of short-lived ones, must remain sequestered for a few hundred years in specially engineered subsurface facilities. Intermediate and high level wastes require disposal hundreds of meters below the ground for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years to ensure public safety. Intermediate wastes contain high concentrations of long-lived radionuclides, as do high level wastes, including spent nuclear fuel and fuel reprocess
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Contact: Jayne Fairley
jayne.fairley@sagepub.co.uk
44-207-324-8719
SAGE Publications
Source:Eurekalert

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