Dec 16, 2011 7:05 PM ET
By Ian MacLeod
When an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex on March 11, as many as 13,000 highly radioactive spent uranium fuel rods, far exceeding the original design, were crammed into a pool of cooling water at the No. 4 Reactor Building.
At the end of 2009, there were about 240,000 tonnes of spent civilian fuel worldwide, most of it at reactor sites. In Canada, 60 years of splitting atoms to make electricity and medicine, and drive innovation has created 44,000 tonnes of intensely radioactive waste, a stockpile second in size only to that of the U.S.