Disposing of Nuclear Waste
Throughout the world as of 2006, there are currently 441 operating nuclear power plants in 31 countries that generate an estimated 17% of all electricity worldwide. Additionally, there are 24 nuclear power plants under construction. Each of these nuclear power plants produce radioactive waste. The problem with all radioactive waste, including radioactive by-products from experimentation and military uses, is that it is created without a permanent means of disposal.
Currently, nuclear power plants store their radioactive wastes at the site of the power plants. However, it is currently estimated that all the nuclear power plants in the United States of America will run of out radioactive storage space around 2014. Other facilities around the world are also quickly running out of storage space for radioactive waste.
As a result, the operators of nuclear power plants have been developing temporary means of storage for radioactive waste. The most common and most practical form of temporary storage and transportation is what is known as dry cask storage. Dry cask storage is basically large cylinders made of concrete and steel that are bolted and welded closed with high-level radioactive waste stored inside them. Unfortunately, these dry cask storage containers corrode from the inside. It is commonly estimated that each dry cask storage container will last only a few decades.
Therefore, humankind needs to develop a “cradle to grave” system for all radioactive material. That means, whenever any radioactive material is created, a permanent storage location needs to be decided upon; so that the radioactive waste will never harm anyone.
The United States of America is currently the only country that is attempting a long term solution to this problem. Underneath the Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a long term storage facility is under construction to permanently store dangerous high-level radioactive waste. Originally, the Yucca Mountain Facility was expected to open in 2010, but it is now estimated to open in 2017. That is three years after the United States of America will run out of temporary storage locations for radioactive waste! Furthermore, this does not even address radioactive waste from other countries that are not going to send their radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain.
This is a global problem that needs to be addressed immediately, because it has the potential of seriously harming all of humankind for thousands of years. Please help by contacting your government (such as the Department of Energy in the United States of America) and politicians (such as the White House) to escalate this issue as a global crisis.
by Phil for Humanity