What more could demonstrate the un-stability of the nuclear industry than the events that took place this week at Hanford, Washington USA. News sources reported how a tunnel in the nuclear finishing plant collapsed.
The tunnel, part of a plutonium and uranium extraction facility (PUREX) reportedly contained highly contaminated materials including nuclear waste trains that are used to transport radioactive fuel rods. As radioactive material is difficult to dispose of, it is common practice to burry it under the ground.
However there are serious implications of this act of burial. All radio active material as it decays can cause harm. The nuclear industry still has no solution to the ‘waste problem’. The transportation of this waste poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment. The waste, spent fuel, is dangerously radioactive, and remains so for thousands of years. When it first comes out of the reactor, it is so toxic that if you stood within a few meters of it while it was unshielded, you would receive a lethal radioactive dose within a few seconds and would die of acute radiation sickness within a few days.
Plutonium is the most dangerous material in the world.
What consideration had been given to the potential terrorist threat to the large volumes of radioactive wastes currently being stored and the risk that this waste could leak or be dispersed as a result of terrorist action?
Nuclear wastes are hazardous for tens of thousands of years. It is clearly is unprecedented to leave behind this legacy as a threat to future generations.
Nobody knows the true costs of waste management. The costs are so high that nuclear power can never be economic.
There are many myths attached to the nuclear power industry, one of the biggest being that Nuclear is clean energy ………… Nuclear power is not carbon emission free. The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power.
Another myth … sustainability ………It’s not sustainable. The reserves of uranium ores used to generate nuclear power are going to run out. There is only 50 years worth of high uranium ores left in the world. There may be only 200 years left of all uranium ores including poor uranium ores which take more energy to mine and process and thus release more carbon emissions.
Truths? there are plenty:
Nuclear power threatens the environment and people’s health. It produces enormous amounts of carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. No safe solution has yet been devised to store it. In particular, there is evidence of cancer clusters linked to nuclear power production. Building new nuclear power stations would increase the most toxic high level waste five-fold. Read CND’s summary of the German government-commissioned research that shows increases in cancer in children under five living near nuclear power stations.
- Uranium mining kills. Uranium mining is the first step in the nuclear power cycle; it has taken the lives of many miners all over the world causing environmental contamination, cancers and nuclear waste.
- Nuclear accidents. The risk of terrible nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale (Sellafield), Fukisihma and now Hannford will have lasting effects.
- A terrorist target. Nuclear power carries with it the risk of nuclear terrorism. In this age of uncertainty, dirty bombs and attacks on power stations are a terrifying threat.
- The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy.
Sellafield is home to 80% of the UK’s nuclear waste and some of the world’s most hazardous buildings. This was where, in the early 1950s, the Windscale facility produced the Plutonium-239 that would be used in the UK’s first nuclear bomb.