Nuclear Fuel Waste in Canada (January 2013)

Jan-Feb-2013-Vol23-No1, Watershed Sentinel


by Anna Tilman

Nuclear waste, especially nuclear fuel wastes from reactors, also called high-level radioactive wastes, is the greatest danger caused by the nuclear industry.  This fuel, otherwise known as irradiated fuel or “spent” fuel, contains hundreds of radioactive elements that are the products of fission in a reactor. Many of them are not found in nature. This fuel is lethal in seconds to anyone nearby. It will leave an indelible mark on the planet for eons.

Determined to allay long-standing public concerns about this waste, the nuclear industry  and  their  supportive  governments worldwide  have  advocated Deep Geological Repositories (DGRs) as the “final  solution”  to safely contain these wastes. To date, no DGR for spent fuel has been built or is operating anywhere in the world.

There is no assurance that this waste could be safely and permanently contained in DGRs. No computer models can accurately take into account all the complexities that could be encountered from burying this deadly waste deep underground or provide assurance that, over a million or more years, radioactivity would not be released. Natural systems are far too complicated and ever-changing for a complete, accurate model to be valid, or even possible.

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