Quirks & Quarks on the Long Term Issue of Nuclear Waste

Darlington Nuclear Power Plant

This week on Quirks & Quarks, Canada’s weekly science program on CBC radio discussed the issue of long term (really long term) nuclear waste management.

The program was well produced, covered the topics from interesting angles, and generally made for great listening. Eerie vignettes of speculative future news-bites were read by CBC host Michael Engright.

Listening to various scientists debate how best to deal with nuclear waste of time-lines that extend well over 10,000 years goes a long way to convince you that humanity is simply not capable of dealing with issues longer than our recorded history. I was reminded of the rule of thumb: don’t trust a warranty that purports lasts longer than the company offering it has existed.

The 9 minute segment is available for download in a 3.6MB Ogg file or or a 5.5MB MP3 file.


2 thoughts on “Quirks & Quarks on the Long Term Issue of Nuclear Waste

  1. Hi Steven,
    This is a serious issue but one we need to deal with. When you look at the amount of waste from a nuclear plant and compare that to other types of waste I have to laugh though. The total amount of waste fuel from a single reactor for a year running at full power is small enough to fit under the average computer desk. We are not talking really major amounts.
    This is the one element that most of these debates on storing fuel miss.
    If we were to just put it back down the mine it came from and leave it there it would not fill the space it originally came from.
    Second point is that there are now ways to reuse the fuel from most of the reactors world wide to get more energy from them. The current methods used at most nuclear plants get about 1% of the energy available. Putting it through again in a redesigned plant (which also extends the life of the plant) allows that to get to about 1.8% with current technology. We should be able tyo push it to 4% by 20 years. This ends up with even less waste (or rather no more waste) fuel.
    Yes I work in the industry.

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