Friday, October 19, 2007

Just another day

Just Another Day


I did not know this:

3 comments:

Belle said...

I've often wondered why the half-life of the waste isn't more talked about. The power companies and the pro-nuke groups talk about it as if the waste was safe in a few months or years.

It's not. So what is it that is so hard to understand?

wheels said...

I've often wondered why the waste produced by coal-fired plants isn't more talked about. A 1000MW nuclear plant uses about 2 tons of fuel/month, while a coal-fired plant uses about a quarter-million tons.

Much of the wastes from the coal-fired plant are chemical poisons, which don't decay like nuclear wastes do, so they never become safe without intervention.

Why is that so hard to understand?

Okay, that's snarky and simplistic. The real problem with nuclear waste in the US is that Jimmy Carter killed the plans to build a nuclear waste reprocessing facility.

To be simplistic again, you can divide nuclear waste into two types - high-level and low-level. High-level wastes are comprised of very radioactive isotopes, and low-level wastes are made up of not-very radioactive isotopes.

The thing is, the highly-radioactive isotopes have short half-lives. Long half-lives indicate not-very-radioactive isotopes.

By killing the reprocessing facility, which would have separated the isotopes, Carter made it so that we have to treat all nuclear waste as though it is both highly radioactive and long-lived.

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