The clock is ticking for governments as they try to find permanent disposal sites for spent fuel while ageing nuclear plants close. But can this hazardous substance be disposed of in such a way that it has a minimal impact on the environment, and can we recycle its properties to make other fuel sources?
Plans for new nuclear power generation are far from concrete, particularly in western Europe, where politicians and industry experts are chewing over the economic viability of such schemes.
But irrespective of whether nuclear has a future not, there are ageing plants to think about and, as they close, thousands of tons of waste will need to be taken care of.
Storing nuclear waste is a major challenge but could a new breed of reactor solve this?
In the UK, a trajectory of plant closures currently published shows that the first AGR plant will be decommissioned in 2016. Then, by 2020, nuclear capacity could be less than half today’s level, at around 4.6GW.
Meanwhile in Germany, all existing plants are set to close by 2022, with no plans to replace them.
France could also witness a nuclear switch off if its new president, Francois Hollande, upholds his pledge to shut 24 of the country’s 58 reactors.
With so much capacity projected to come offline, it raises the question of how and where potentially-harmful spent fuel, left over from nuclear reactions, will be permanently disposed of, or if it can even be reused as a fuel source in its own right.
Nuclear waste storage: above ground vs. underground
“In the UK, a trajectory of plant closures currently published shows that the first AGR plant will be decommissioned in 2016.”
There is currently no permanent site for high level radioactive waste disposal.
Read More From Source:Nuclear burial: disposing hazardous spent fuel, currently no permanent site for high level radioactive waste disposal." -
This entry was posted on August 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm and is filed under EHS News