General Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Should nuclear waste hold up the use of nuclear energy?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) February 16th, 2010

With the Obama administration saying nuclear energy being essential to providing the nation with reliable and clean energy, what do you do with the spent nuclear material? It had been said we have tons of the stuff sitting around already that we can’t find a way to dispose of (CBS evening news). How hard could it be to get rid of the stuff? It might not be real cheap but possible. It could be sealed in cylinders and dropped in the throat of live volcanoes letting the magma take care of it. Shoot in into space in a rocker bound for Mercury or the Sun and let the cosmos take care of it. The scientist and such should start now because eventually we will all be dead the oil will run out and you don’t want to be the only one left with out a chair when the music stops.

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14 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

It is buried in the ground. It is possible to contain it, but there is always an element of risk. We have already figured this out, though there is always room for improvement.

I think the doom and gloom of oil scarcity is a load of crap. No one really knows for sure how much oil is available, and we are likely no where near the end of the supply. I agree that we’ll both be long dead before that happens.

I think we should be looking at other “clean” sources of energy, at advancing other technologies that don’t carry the negative baggage that nuclear does. This is what scientists should be working on – so that implementing nuclear will not be necessary when oil does run out, so that we will have better options.

Cruiser's avatar

Shooting it into space is not a viable option given the percentage of booster rocket failures. One dud rocket and we have spent nuclear fuel scattered for hundreds of miles.

Response moderated
laureth's avatar

@lilikoi – it’s not that we’re near the end of the supply at all – there are many years left. It’s more about being at the end of the “cheap, easy to get” half of the supply. info After that, cost of extraction goes up, and demand goes up as well, making the remaining oil pretty expensive pretty fast.

@Hypocrisy_Central – It’s true, from what I’ve read, that a lot of it sits fairly permanently in “temporary storage.” “All told, the nuclear reactors in the U.S. produce more than 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste a year, according to the DoE—and most of it ends up sitting on-site because there is nowhere else to put it. ” Source However, we could reprocess it like the French do and get more use out of the spent fuel for a while. We don’t here in the U.S. because of the fear that it’ll be used in bombs.

Even if Yucca Mountain opened up today for disposal, it’d be filled up tomorrow and we’d have to find somewhere else.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Fission reactors are not sustainable because of the toxic radioactive waste they generate.

If you launch a rocket into space and it explodes, then you have radioactive waste raining down over a large area.

Factotum's avatar

Nuclear energy works and should be used to take the heat – so to speak – off of our oil needs – most feasible transportation requires petroleum to work, but the energy used to run businesses and homes can come from all sorts of sources. Of these, the best is nuclear energy.

We can’t really claim to be concerned about energy shortages or global warming if we are not willing to use reactors.

I commend the Obama administration on this willingness.

wundayatta's avatar

There are huge political problems in nuclear waste disposal. They were going to build a national waste repository in—I think—Yucca Mountain…. Nevada? That got killed by the “not in my back yard” syndrome. So there is no national repository.

There are other issues. People don’t like nuclear waste transported through their towns. There are security issues with nuclear waste and on and on.

If I remember correctly, most waste is being stored on site, and there is a capability for continuing to do this for another forty years or so. So all the politicians are punting at the moment—letting someone after them deal with the problem.

I used to be a very strong anti-nuclear activist. Now, because of global warming, I am rethinking this. It’s kind of an issue of which problem is worse—more nuclear material in the places we live, and more danger of nuclear accidents, or continually increasing global warming?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lilikoi “No one really knows for sure how much oil is available, and we are likely no where near the end of the supply.” That would be part of the problem, no one really knows how much is left or not. Eventually everything runs out. I personally think mankind will wipe its self out before the oil runs out Better to position yourself before the music stops or you might find yourself with out a chair.

I am all for cleaner renewable energy like solar, tidal, thermal, etc, but right now we need a bridge as @Factotum say. Eventually with out an alternative the price will go through the roof as @laureth said. We are lucky we don’t have to pay what Europe and other nations pay for petro or a lot of people would be pissed.

[Removed by Fluther via internal edit.]

@wundayatta That is why we need a bridge between oil and whatever because not to could mean great changes to the weather and climate of this planet.

Response moderated
augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Personal attack removed from a longer post via internal edit. Response to the attack has also been removed.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@augustlan Sorry about that but it seem such a shame some people have to react to the questioner and not just answer the question, or just pass it if they don’t have anything to say. I apologize, I am only human and sometimes you just can’t help but say something.

UScitizen's avatar

Any type of energy production carries risks. There are many examples of petroleum transportation, production, and refining accidents that kill people. Toxic coal sludge wiped out many homes in Tennesse (approximately) two years ago. Most of our energy comes from coal today. The production of coal has killed many people. We can’t keep burnig coal and poisioning our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, mercury, and sulphur compounds. At some point the choice will be nuclear, or shivering in the dark. We had better get started. So, no, the problem of waste should not stop us from moving down the inevitable road. We can solve that problem.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@UScitizen I guess so long as it doesn’t stop them from driving most people will live with an oil slick killing off a bunch of ducks and seals BUT if it stops them from surfing or jet skiing then it is another story

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