What should be done with nuclear waste?

By Jim Bloch, The Voice, Serving northern Macomb & St. Clair counties ­ Friday, May 23, 2014

Ontario Power Generation proposes to collect low and intermediate nuclear wastes from the provinces 20 nuclear power plants for the next 30 years and store it in a layer of limestone 2,230 feet below ground, less than three-quarters of a mile from Lake Huron. After three decades or so, OPG would close off the shafts to its so-called Deep Geologic Repository, abandoning the waste.

Some of the radioactive waste will remain toxic for more than 100,000 years. Plutonium 239, which affects the lungs, bones and ovaries of humans, will remain radioactive for 240,000 years. Thats longer than Homo sapiens have been on earth….

The word repository is particularly offensive to me, said Edwards. A repository, like the U.S. Congresss Book Repository in Washington, D.C., is immaculate and well looked after and someone is there all the time. The books are not abandoned. Theyre there to be retrieved and used. This is not a repository. This is a dump. They have no intention of retrieving this stuff. The language itself is very misleading.

Edwards and other critics want to see nuclear waste stored above ground in hardened onsite silos.

In my opinion, their main motivation for putting it underground is to make it easier for them to abandon it, Edwards said. If its above ground and safely packaged, they cant just move away without taking it with them.

No civilian body in North America has given its stamp of approval to the abandonment of nuclear waste, said Edwards. Thats a key OPG goal in the approval process.

How should the wastes be stored?

Keep them in hardened above-ground storage facilities on the sites of reactors for an extended period, like a couple hundred years, said Brennain Lloyd, of Northwatch, who spoke at SC4 in the fall of 2012.

In the wake of 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, a variant of the concept was recommended by Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Mass. Thompson pushed for robust security for nuclear waste, that is, storage in structures strong enough to withstand attack from a terrorist or other malicious opponent.

Spent fuel should be secured in three ways, Thompson said. First, it should be kept passively safe. The waste should remain safe without relying on electricity, cooling water or a human crew, any of which may be knocked out, as happened at Fukushima in Japan in the wake of the tsunami in 2011.

Second, the facility where the waste is stored should be hardened to resist an attack by anti-tank missiles and crashed commercial jets. At ground level, this would mean layers of concrete, steel, gravel and other substances around and above the spent fuel.

Third, the waste should be decentralized, that is, stored on the sites of nuclear plants, not at a centralized facility, which would be vulnerable to a single attack and dispersed around each reactor site if possible



Northwatch | Box 282 . North Bay . P1B 8H2 | Tel 705 497 0373 | www.northwatch.org

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