Talk:Nuclear waste

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The Soviet Union had a plan to store nuclear waste on the dark side of the Moon; this plan was to start in the late 1990s, and by then the Soviet Union had far worse problems than nuclear waste (like not existing!). In addition to being expensive, this has the obvious disadvantage that if we decide to need it back for some reason (e.g. rare isotopes), we have no way of retrieving it.

There's also currently a citation needed tag. I haven't found much online besides some crazy guy in a forum, and the idea sounds suspiciously similar to "Space:1999." Opinions/citations from the mob? ThunderkatzHo! 20:26, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

I say we nuke the sitepassage from orbit. Sorry! I'm going to search and see what it comes up with.--ZooGuard (talk) 21:11, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
The closest I could find is this, from 1984 - a proposal to send high-grade nuclear waste in orbit around the Sun (away from the Earth) using the heavy Energia booster. Note that this is a "study", i.e. just a little bit more sophisticated than a bunch of back-of-the-envelope calculations.--ZooGuard (talk) 21:19, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
That seems interesting enough to add, but I'm thinking we should dispose of the moon thing unless someone else can find something to back it up. ThunderkatzHo! 23:30, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I can't find anything either. Aboriginal Noise What the ... 23:42, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

Very whitewashy[edit]

This article ladles on the whitewash pretty thick. While there's certainly no reason to suggest the problems cant be solved, the article should at least acknowledge that there's great controversy over this topic. DogP (talk) 20:00, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

It would be nice if the article mentioned the Kyshtym disaster. -- (talk) 21:02, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
The additions to "people harmed by nuclear waste" are very good. However, not everything added to the preceding sections is true. For example, total geological stability is definitely not assumed when evaluating repository safety. The approach is "defense in depth". There are multiple levels of protection, each of them capable of preventing releases on its own: 1. geological stability and lack of groundwater, 2. engineered barriers against water intrusion, 3. waterproof containers, and finally 4. insolubility of the waste material itself (vitrification). [1] Research at natural fission reactors in Africa demonstrates that safe geological disposal is possible, even without the multiple layers of engineered barriers.
As for controversy - it can be mentioned, but my opinion is that the controversy about repository safety is an argument from incredulity. There are many papers and experimental studies which examine the safety of proposed repositories, and their aggregate conclusion is that the repositories are safe. The anti-nuclear side has never been able to propose a plausible mechanism of waste release from the repository, other than human intrusion, that would stand up to scrutiny. --Tweenk (talk) 22:30, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Stupid idea?[edit]

Why can't we just store the nuclear waste in the uranium mines? I mean, the mines are already full of radioactive uranium, and I'm under the impression that the waste generated from nuclear plants is generally less radioactive than the uranium taken out of the mines to create that waste. And if there are problems with the water table or earthquakes or whatever, it's not like the problems wouldn't already exist from the fact that there's, you know, uranium already there. CorruptUser (talk) 20:37, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

The outputs of fission are more dangerous than the inputs. It's not a matter of "Is it radioactive? Y/N" U238(which makes up a huge majority of uranium ore) has a very very very long half life. Even the U235 we actually use for fission, which Wikipedia tells me makes up less than 1% of the ore, has a half life in the millions of years. Sitting on their own, they pose more risk as heavy metal toxins than as radiation sources.
So, how does nuclear power work then? Chain reactions. You put a bunch of purified 235 real close together, and when an atom DOES decay, it spews neutrons that cause neighbors to decay, and if the concentration is just right, that's a stable "slow burn" used for nuclear plants. That process puts off lots of radiation, really fast, and that has a few consequences:
  1. The barium and krypton that comes out of the decay are both short lived, highly radioactive elements. The depleted uranium is both extremely dangerous to people, and harder to contain, as Krypton is a gas, and can leak, and barium is highly reactive and can get into water tables.
  2. The equipment surrounding the reaction chamber is also exposed to those same neutrons that fuel the chain reactions, changing many of its constituent elements into different, highly radioactive isotopes. A huge proportion of nuclear waste is random pieces of nuclear a power station that have been replaced. That's a lot of radioactive stuff with short to medium half-lives with various chemical properties.
So, uranium mines, contrary to intuition, aren't super radioactive. The waste is. And it can get out. And kill people. Ikanreed (talk) 20:52, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
(EC, probably redundant)Two reasons. Though uranium is fairly abundant on earth, at least more so than gold or silver, concentrated uranium used in the fuel for nuclear power plants isn't found anywhere on earth. They don't just dig up fuel rods, uranium is mined as ore which is no where near as dangerous as either nuclear fuel or waste. Secondly almost all modern uranium mining is done in an open pit style as the ore emits radon gas which if concentrated in an underground mine makes the work extremely hazardous. Obviously open pit disposal is undesirable for a whole bunch of reasons. Marlow (talk) 21:01, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
Alright, thanks. I'll go back to exceeding the speed of light with my "racecar on a train" proposal... CorruptUser (talk) 21:44, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Salt domes geologically stable?[edit]

Anybody with even passing knowledge of geology will tell you that salt domes are by their very nature the result of geologic activity. Salt becomes highly mobile once sufficient pressure is applied (which happens from time to time in geologic timescales) and that is not even getting into the effects sufficient amounts of water can have on salt or the corrosive nature of salt. Germany, which was one of the pioneers of experimenting with storing nuclear waste in salt is now having huge problems The Asse mineWikipedia which was supposed to be a nuclear storage facility "for all eternity" and now encounters massive problem with leaking water during the lifetime of some of those who made the decision. Of course none of this is surprising. Anybody who has ever worked in salt mining (and Europe has a long tradition of that) could have told you that those salt domes are anything but "stable". Storing nuclear waste in old metamorphic rock or in the Precambrian cratons as found in Southern Africa or Scandinavia probably makes a whole lot more sense geologically. But the decision to store the stuff in salt was mostly a political decision anyway... Avengerofthe BoN (talk) 14:27, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

An off-the-wall proposal.[edit]

Nuclear waste is often considered dangerous because of the large amounts of ionising radiation it emits. So why not harness the thermal energy it emits and put that radiation to good use? 107Ag47 01:19, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

I've had this idea too. As to "why not", I dunno. Not practical or profitable enough? *shrugs* (talk) 01:24, 19 October 42015 AQD (UTC)
The heat emitted by spent fuel decays exponentially and is small compared to the heat given off during fission. Furthermore, the waste-heat-harnessing machine would still be a nuclear installation, and this means so much red tape that it wouldn't make sense economically. --Tweenk (talk) 05:56, 19 October 2015 (UTC)