Chapter 13 Answers

Each part of nuclear power fuel cycle produces low-level and high-level radioactive waste (solid, liquid, gas). Disposal and containment for radioactive waste can be achieved through various methods designed to prevent leaks and contamination of the surrounding area. The proposed methods are as follows:
-Bury it deep underground – the favored strategy currently employed by the U.S
-Shoot it into space or into the Sun – Extremely costly, and dangerous in the case of launch accidents which could disperse radioactive waste globally
-Bury it under the Antarctic ice sheet or the Greenland Icecap – long term stability of the ice-sheets is unknown, the possibility of destabilization from heat produced by the waste would make retrieval impossible resulting in this strategy prohibited by international law
-Dump it into the descending zones of the earth’s crust in the deep ocean – wastes may be possibly spewed forth from volcanic activity or leak into deep ocean waters making retrieval impossible and resulting in this strategy prohibited by international law
-Bury it in thick deposits of mud on the deep-ocean floor in areas that tests prove to be geologically stable for 65 million years – Waste containers would eventually corrode releasing contaminates resulting in this strategy prohibited by international law
-Change it into harmless or less harmless isotopes¬ – Currently this strategy is not feasible or scientifically possible, but costs would be tremendous and excess waste would still need to be stored in contaminant.

A nuclear power plant, upon reaching the end of its useful life, must be decommissioned using the three following methods. One strategy involves dismantling the entire facility and storing the radioactive material in a nuclear waste storage facility. A second strategy involves installing a physical barrier around the plant and set up full-time security for 30-100years before the plant is dismantled. A third option is to enclose the entire plant in a tomb that must last and be monitored for several thousand years. Currently in the U.S there is widespread distrust of the government agencies’ ability to enforce nuclear safety in commercial (NRC-U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission) nuclear facilities. Security inspections indicated the lack of attention the NRC has given to improving safety standards “there are asleep at the wheel”.
Alex Rifkind

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