User Tools

Site Tools


radiation:all_states_shall_prioritize_the_long-term_control_and_safe_storage_of_radioactive_wastes_with_public_review

Differences

This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

Both sides previous revision Previous revision
Next revision
Previous revision
radiation:all_states_shall_prioritize_the_long-term_control_and_safe_storage_of_radioactive_wastes_with_public_review [2019/05/15 23:34]
192.252.166.4 [Nuclear Security Summits]
radiation:all_states_shall_prioritize_the_long-term_control_and_safe_storage_of_radioactive_wastes_with_public_review [2019/06/25 22:09] (current)
99.241.111.191
Line 7: Line 7:
 First, we should clarify what we mean by “radioactive wastes,” as distinct from some risks that are addressed in other planks of this platform. ​ First, we should clarify what we mean by “radioactive wastes,” as distinct from some risks that are addressed in other planks of this platform. ​
  
-Radioactivity can cause a lot of human misery. For one thing, ​under certain circumstances it can explode. ​ Hence we devote planks 1 and 2 to measures intended to prevent the creation of nuclear bombs and certainly their detonation in a nuclear war. +Radioactivity can cause a lot of human misery. For one thing, ​harnessing nuclear radioactivity can be done to build bombs that can explode. ​ Hence we devote planks 1 and 2 to measures intended to prevent the creation of nuclear bombs and certainly their detonation in a nuclear war. 
  
-But radioactive substances can also explode, not as bombs, but in nuclear reactors that are meant to generate electricity. ​ So plank 17 focused primarily on the need to prevent nuclear reactors from exploding and melting down. +But radioactive substances can also explode, not as bombs, but in nuclear reactors that are meant to generate electricity. ​ So plank 17 focused primarily on the need to prevent nuclear reactors from exploding and melting down. (Chernobyl, for instance, was a “steam explosion”.)
  
-Finally, even without any explosion, the radiation from fissile elements can damage living cells. Ordinarily we want to avoid contact with radiation, though occasionally physicians deliberately irradiate cancer cells precisely to destroy them. This plank, number 18, will address these non-explosive effects of radioactivity.  ​+Finally, even without any explosion, the radiation from fissile elements can damage living cells. Ordinarily we want to avoid contact with radiation, though occasionally physicians deliberately irradiate cancer cells precisely to destroy them, and save lives. “More than 14 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed globally each year; radiation therapy (RT) has the potential to improve the rates of cure of 3.5 million people and provide palliative relief for an additional 3.5 million people. These conservative estimates are based on the fact that approximately 50 percent of all cancer patients can benefit from RT in the management of their disease...of these, approximately half present early enough to pursue curative intent.”((https://​www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/​books/​NBK343621/​))  
 + 
 +Because we are surrounded by background radiation daily, it is impossible to eliminate all contact. This plank, number 18, will address ​some of these non-explosive effects of radioactivity.  ​
  
 ==== Types and Sources of Radioactive Waste ==== ==== Types and Sources of Radioactive Waste ====
Line 25: Line 27:
 Background radiation also includes //cosmic radiation//,​ which mostly originates outside our solar system or even from distant galaxies. Upon impact with earth'​s atmosphere, cosmic rays can produce showers of secondary particles that may scatter onto the ground. However, flying high in the atmosphere increases our exposure. Thus flying once across the North American continent exposes each passenger to almost as much radiation as from one chest x-ray. Natural background radiation exposure is about 1.8 millisieverts per year in Canada and 2.4 mSv worldwide.((Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, [[https://​nuclearsafety.gc.ca/​eng/​resources/​fact-sheets/​natural-background-radiation.cfm|“Natural Background Radiation”]],​ Jan. 2013.)) We don’t worry much about it because living beings have always been exposed to some levels of background radiation, yet our species is still alive. Background radiation also includes //cosmic radiation//,​ which mostly originates outside our solar system or even from distant galaxies. Upon impact with earth'​s atmosphere, cosmic rays can produce showers of secondary particles that may scatter onto the ground. However, flying high in the atmosphere increases our exposure. Thus flying once across the North American continent exposes each passenger to almost as much radiation as from one chest x-ray. Natural background radiation exposure is about 1.8 millisieverts per year in Canada and 2.4 mSv worldwide.((Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, [[https://​nuclearsafety.gc.ca/​eng/​resources/​fact-sheets/​natural-background-radiation.cfm|“Natural Background Radiation”]],​ Jan. 2013.)) We don’t worry much about it because living beings have always been exposed to some levels of background radiation, yet our species is still alive.
  
-We are justified, however, in worrying about the additional exposure that pollutes our environment because of human use of radioactive materials in industry, medicine, nuclear reactors, and nuclear weapons. ​+We are justified, however, in worrying about the additional exposure that pollutes our environment ​(at least above natural background levels) ​because of human use of radioactive materials in industry, medicine, nuclear reactors, and nuclear weapons. ​Some areas of the globe have very high natural background radiation levels, such as Ramsar, Iran. Studies of the impact on citizens there are therefore of interest.((http://​large.stanford.edu/​courses/​2018/​ph241/​lance2/​))
  
 These four technologies are named above in ascending order of risk to humankind. Clearly, nuclear weapons pose the worst of these threats and we must not overlook our exposure to its risks, not only during a nuclear war but also from the lingering radiation after such a war, or even from mere manufacture of the bombs. Unfortunately,​ most of the radiation left over from nuclear war and nuclear testing has been dispersed around in the environment in ways that make it difficult or impossible to clean up.  These four technologies are named above in ascending order of risk to humankind. Clearly, nuclear weapons pose the worst of these threats and we must not overlook our exposure to its risks, not only during a nuclear war but also from the lingering radiation after such a war, or even from mere manufacture of the bombs. Unfortunately,​ most of the radiation left over from nuclear war and nuclear testing has been dispersed around in the environment in ways that make it difficult or impossible to clean up. 
Line 31: Line 33:
 ==== Ways of Disposing of Radioactive Waste ==== ==== Ways of Disposing of Radioactive Waste ====
  
-There is no good way of disposing of a substance that for hundreds of thousands of years will kill any living creature that contacts it. However, some methods are worse than others, and it is our duty to seek the optimum solution. Below is a short paper on the subject written by Subhan Ali in 2011.((Subhan Ali, [[http://​large.stanford.edu/​courses/​2011/​ph241/​ali2/​|“Nuclear Waste Disposal Methods”]].)) In principle, all of these disposal methods can apply to military, medical, and industrial waste, but the current controversies only concern how to sequester the wastes from nuclear power plants. Ali writes,+There is no perfect ​way of disposing of a substance that for hundreds of thousands of years will kill any living creature that contacts it. However, some methods are worse than others, and it is our duty to seek the optimum solution. Below is a short paper on the subject written by Subhan Ali in 2011.((Subhan Ali, [[http://​large.stanford.edu/​courses/​2011/​ph241/​ali2/​|“Nuclear Waste Disposal Methods”]].)) See also the Canadian NWMO proposal for deep burial.((https://​www.nwmo.ca/​en/​A-Safe-Approach/​Facilities/​Deep-Geological-Repository))In principle, all of these disposal methods can apply to military, medical, and industrial waste, but the current controversies only concern how to sequester the wastes from nuclear power plants. Ali writes,
  
 “As part of the nuclear fuel cycle process, radioactive waste is produced that needs to be safely dealt with in order to avoid permanent damage to the surrounding environment. Nuclear waste can be temporarily treated on-site at the production facility using a number of methods, such as vitrification,​ ion exchange, or synroc.((Synroc is a “synthetic rock” — a ceramic made from natural minerals that incorporate into their crystal structures nearly all of the elements present in high-level radioactive waste. Iyt is not actually a disposal method, for it still can harm anything in its surroundings and must be stored with as much caution as other forms of radioactivity.)) Although this initial treatment prepares the waste for transport and inhibits damage in the short-term, long-term management solutions for nuclear waste lie at the crux of finding a viable solution towards more widespread adoption of nuclear power. Specific long-term management methods include geological disposal, transmutation,​ waste re-use, and space disposal. It is also worth noting that the half-life of certain radioactive wastes can be in the range of 500,000 years or more.((R. C. Ewing, "​Nuclear Waste Forms for Actinides,"​ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 96, 3432 (1999).)) “As part of the nuclear fuel cycle process, radioactive waste is produced that needs to be safely dealt with in order to avoid permanent damage to the surrounding environment. Nuclear waste can be temporarily treated on-site at the production facility using a number of methods, such as vitrification,​ ion exchange, or synroc.((Synroc is a “synthetic rock” — a ceramic made from natural minerals that incorporate into their crystal structures nearly all of the elements present in high-level radioactive waste. Iyt is not actually a disposal method, for it still can harm anything in its surroundings and must be stored with as much caution as other forms of radioactivity.)) Although this initial treatment prepares the waste for transport and inhibits damage in the short-term, long-term management solutions for nuclear waste lie at the crux of finding a viable solution towards more widespread adoption of nuclear power. Specific long-term management methods include geological disposal, transmutation,​ waste re-use, and space disposal. It is also worth noting that the half-life of certain radioactive wastes can be in the range of 500,000 years or more.((R. C. Ewing, "​Nuclear Waste Forms for Actinides,"​ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 96, 3432 (1999).))
  
-=== Geological Disposal ===+=== Geological Disposal ===
  
 “The process of geological disposal centers on burrowing nuclear waste into the ground to the point where it is out of human reach. There are a number of issues that can arise as a result of placing waste in the ground. The waste needs to be properly protected to stop any material from leaking out. Seepage from the waste could contaminate the water table if the burial location is above or below the water level. Furthermore,​ the waste needs to be properly fastened to the burial site and also structurally supported in the event of a major seismic event, which could result in immediate contamination. Also, given the half-life noted above, a huge concern centers around how feasible it would be to even assume that nuclear waste could simply lie in repository that far below the ground. Concerns regarding terrorism also arise.((R. L. Murray and K. L. Manke, //​Understanding Radioactive Waste// (Battelle Press, 2003).)) “The process of geological disposal centers on burrowing nuclear waste into the ground to the point where it is out of human reach. There are a number of issues that can arise as a result of placing waste in the ground. The waste needs to be properly protected to stop any material from leaking out. Seepage from the waste could contaminate the water table if the burial location is above or below the water level. Furthermore,​ the waste needs to be properly fastened to the burial site and also structurally supported in the event of a major seismic event, which could result in immediate contamination. Also, given the half-life noted above, a huge concern centers around how feasible it would be to even assume that nuclear waste could simply lie in repository that far below the ground. Concerns regarding terrorism also arise.((R. L. Murray and K. L. Manke, //​Understanding Radioactive Waste// (Battelle Press, 2003).))
  
-“A noted geological disposal project that was recently pursued and could possible ​still be pursued in the future by the United States government is the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The federal government has voted to develop the site for future nuclear storage. Although the Obama administration stated that Yucca Mountain is “off the table,” Congress voted by a margin of 10 to 1 in 2009 to keep funding the project as part of the federal budget. A number of concerns surround this project and the ultimate long-term viability of it are yet to be seen given the political uncertainty surrounding it.((A. Macfarlane, "​Underlying Yucca Mountain: The Interplay of Geology and Policy in Nuclear Waste Disposal,"​ //Social Studies of Science// 33, 783 (2003).))+“A noted geological disposal project that was recently pursued and could possibly ​still be pursued in the future by the United States government is the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The federal government has voted to develop the site for future nuclear storage. Although the Obama administration stated that Yucca Mountain is “off the table,” Congress voted by a margin of 10 to 1 in 2009 to keep funding the project as part of the federal budget. A number of concerns surround this project and the ultimate long-term viability of it are yet to be seen given the political uncertainty surrounding it.((A. Macfarlane, "​Underlying Yucca Mountain: The Interplay of Geology and Policy in Nuclear Waste Disposal,"​ //Social Studies of Science// 33, 783 (2003).))
  
-=== Reprocessing ===+=== Reprocessing ===
  
 "​Reprocessing has also emerged as a viable long term method for dealing with waste. As the name implies, the process involves taking waste and separating the useful components from those that aren’t as useful. Specifically,​ it involves taking the fissionable material out from the irradiated nuclear fuel. Concerns regarding reprocessing have largely focused around nuclear proliferation and how much easier reprocessing would allow fissionable material to spread.((A. Andrews, "​Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing:​ U.S. Policy Development,"​ CRS Report for Congress RS22542, 27 Mar 08.)) "​Reprocessing has also emerged as a viable long term method for dealing with waste. As the name implies, the process involves taking waste and separating the useful components from those that aren’t as useful. Specifically,​ it involves taking the fissionable material out from the irradiated nuclear fuel. Concerns regarding reprocessing have largely focused around nuclear proliferation and how much easier reprocessing would allow fissionable material to spread.((A. Andrews, "​Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing:​ U.S. Policy Development,"​ CRS Report for Congress RS22542, 27 Mar 08.))
 +Speaking at one of a series of international panels on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (2018), Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, (http://​www.recna.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/​recna/​psnanews/​22129 ) outlined possible international management options to deal with the existing large plutonium stockpile which is one of the most serious global security challenges. Four options are: 1) enhanced transparency by strengthening International Plutonium Management Guideline (INFCIRC/​549),​ 2) International Plutonium Storage, 3) International Cooperation on plutonium disposition,​ and 4) moratorium on commissioning new reprocessing facilities. RECNA, Research Centre for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, at Nagasaki University is a centre of expertise on this topic as Japan has a major plutonium processing facility. ​ As of the end of 2016, roughly 60% of it is civilian plutonium and about 97% is owned by four countries (UK 110 tons) France (65 tons) Russia (57 tons) and Japan (47 tons). ​  
  
-=== Transmutation ===+=== Transmutation ===
  
 “Transmutation also poses a solution for long term disposal. It specifically involves converting a chemical element into another less harmful one. Common conversions include going from Chlorine to Argon or from Potassium to Argon. The driving force behind transmutation is chemical reactions that are caused from an outside stimulus, such as a proton hitting the reaction materials. Natural transmutation can also occur over a long period of time. Natural transmutation also serves as the principal force behind geological storage on the assumption that giving the waste enough isolated time will allow it to become a non-fissionable material that poses little or no risk.((S. Charalambus,​ "​Nuclear Transmutation by Negative Stopped Muons and the Activity Induced by the Cosmic-Ray Muons,"​ //Nucl. Phys. A// 166, 145 (1971).)) “Transmutation also poses a solution for long term disposal. It specifically involves converting a chemical element into another less harmful one. Common conversions include going from Chlorine to Argon or from Potassium to Argon. The driving force behind transmutation is chemical reactions that are caused from an outside stimulus, such as a proton hitting the reaction materials. Natural transmutation can also occur over a long period of time. Natural transmutation also serves as the principal force behind geological storage on the assumption that giving the waste enough isolated time will allow it to become a non-fissionable material that poses little or no risk.((S. Charalambus,​ "​Nuclear Transmutation by Negative Stopped Muons and the Activity Induced by the Cosmic-Ray Muons,"​ //Nucl. Phys. A// 166, 145 (1971).))
  
-=== Space Disposal ===+=== Space Disposal ===
  
 “Space disposal has emerged as an option, but not as a very viable one. Specifically,​ space disposal centers around putting nuclear waste on a space shuttle and launching the shuttle into space. This becomes a problem from both a practicality and economic standpoint as the amount of nuclear waste that could be shipped on a single shuttle would be extremely small compared to the total amount of waste that would need to be dealt with. Furthermore,​ the possibility of the shuttle exploding en route to space could only make the matter worse as such an explosion would only cause the nuclear waste to spread out far beyond any reasonable measure of control. “Space disposal has emerged as an option, but not as a very viable one. Specifically,​ space disposal centers around putting nuclear waste on a space shuttle and launching the shuttle into space. This becomes a problem from both a practicality and economic standpoint as the amount of nuclear waste that could be shipped on a single shuttle would be extremely small compared to the total amount of waste that would need to be dealt with. Furthermore,​ the possibility of the shuttle exploding en route to space could only make the matter worse as such an explosion would only cause the nuclear waste to spread out far beyond any reasonable measure of control.
Line 55: Line 58:
 “The upside would center around the fact that launching the material into space would subvert any of the other issues associated with the other disposal methods as the decay of the material would occur outside of our atmosphere regardless of the half-life.((J. Coopersmith,​ "​Nuclear Waste Disposal in Space: BEP's Best Hope?" //AIP Conference Proceedings//​ 830, 600 (2005).)) “The upside would center around the fact that launching the material into space would subvert any of the other issues associated with the other disposal methods as the decay of the material would occur outside of our atmosphere regardless of the half-life.((J. Coopersmith,​ "​Nuclear Waste Disposal in Space: BEP's Best Hope?" //AIP Conference Proceedings//​ 830, 600 (2005).))
  
-=== Conclusion ===+=== Conclusion ===
  
 Various methods exist for the disposal of nuclear waste. A combination of factors must be taken into account when assessing any one particular method. First, the volume of nuclear waste is large and needs to be accounted for. Second, the half-life of nuclear waste results in the necessity for any policymaker to view the time horizon as effectively being infinite as it is best to find a solution that will require the least intervention once a long-term plan has been adapted. Last, the sustainability of any plan needs to be understood. Reducing the fissionability of the material and dealing with adverse effects it can have on the environment and living beings needs to be fully incorporated. Ultimately, nuclear waste is a reality with nuclear power and needs to be properly addressed in order to accurately assess the long-term viability of this power source.” Various methods exist for the disposal of nuclear waste. A combination of factors must be taken into account when assessing any one particular method. First, the volume of nuclear waste is large and needs to be accounted for. Second, the half-life of nuclear waste results in the necessity for any policymaker to view the time horizon as effectively being infinite as it is best to find a solution that will require the least intervention once a long-term plan has been adapted. Last, the sustainability of any plan needs to be understood. Reducing the fissionability of the material and dealing with adverse effects it can have on the environment and living beings needs to be fully incorporated. Ultimately, nuclear waste is a reality with nuclear power and needs to be properly addressed in order to accurately assess the long-term viability of this power source.”
Line 69: Line 72:
 **Depleted Uranium.** Another radioactive pollutant is depleted uranium. Natural uranium is usually “enriched” for use in nuclear power plants and bombs, and after the enriched portion is removed, the remainder is called “depleted uranium.” ​ It is about twice as heavy as lead, which makes it useful for a few peaceful purposes, such as ballast in aircraft or keels of yachts. However, it has about 50 percent of the radioactivity of natural uranium, which means that it is also carcinogenic.(([[https://​www.who.int/​ionizing_radiation/​pub_meet/​en/​DU_Eng.pdf|“Depleted Uranium: Sources, Exposure, and Health Effects.”]] Executive Summary. World Health Organization. Retrieved May 11, 2019.)) **Depleted Uranium.** Another radioactive pollutant is depleted uranium. Natural uranium is usually “enriched” for use in nuclear power plants and bombs, and after the enriched portion is removed, the remainder is called “depleted uranium.” ​ It is about twice as heavy as lead, which makes it useful for a few peaceful purposes, such as ballast in aircraft or keels of yachts. However, it has about 50 percent of the radioactivity of natural uranium, which means that it is also carcinogenic.(([[https://​www.who.int/​ionizing_radiation/​pub_meet/​en/​DU_Eng.pdf|“Depleted Uranium: Sources, Exposure, and Health Effects.”]] Executive Summary. World Health Organization. Retrieved May 11, 2019.))
  
-Nevertheless,​ some armies use it for armor plating their tanks and their armor-piercing bullets and shells. After a battle, the environment may be littered with radioactive debris and even the radioactive burnt-out hulls of tanks. ​ In Iraq, children later playing on the battlefield were exposed to radiation, and many U.S. soldiers complained after returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan of their own lasting health impairment. However, ​some studies have concluded that the risk is not as great as these protesters complain.(([[http://​www.nato.int/​docu/​speech/​2001/​s010110a.htm|"​NATO Press Conference on Depleted Uranium"​]],​ North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved ​ 11 May 2019.))+Nevertheless,​ some armies use it for armor plating their tanks and their armor-piercing bullets and shells. After a battle, the environment may be littered with radioactive debris and even the radioactive burnt-out hulls of tanks. ​ In Iraq, children later playing on the battlefield were exposed to radiation, and many U.S. soldiers complained after returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan of their own lasting health impairment. However, ​reputable ​studies have concluded that the risk is not as great as these protesters complain.(([[http://​www.nato.int/​docu/​speech/​2001/​s010110a.htm|"​NATO Press Conference on Depleted Uranium"​]],​ North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved ​ 11 May 2019.)) Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel concluded in a comment to an IPPNW statement that: 1) The health risks from DU are not great enough to make efforts to ban its use a high priority for the anti-nuclear-weapons movement; but 2) DU-contaminated vehicles and pieces of DU on the battlefield should nevertheless be removed or buried to minimize exposure to those who subsequently may live in or visit the area.((https://​www.ippnw.org/​pdf/​mgs/​7-1-ippnw-depleted-uranium.pdf)
  
-**Nuclear Submarines.** In 1954, during a serious phase of the Cold War, the United States launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, the //USS Nautilus//. Soon thereafter the Soviets also developed more nuclear-powered subs than the US fleet. The vessels were ideally suited for remaining submerged for long periods, undetected and without coming up for air, and for their ability to launch ballistic missiles. By 1997, the Soviet Union (later Russia) had built 245 of them—more than all other nations combined. The other countries possessing strategic nuclear-powered submarines are France, the United Kingdom, China, and India. ​ Brazil and Argentina are working toward acquiring their own such subs.((Sarah Diehl & Eduardo Fujii, [[https://​web.archive.org/​web/​20080316190357/​http:/​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|Brazil’s Pursuit of a Nuclear Submarine Raises Proliferation Concerns]]. //WMD Insights//. Archived from [[http://​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|the original]] on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 11 May 2019.))+**Nuclear-powered Submarines.** In 1954, during a serious phase of the Cold War, the United States launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, the //USS Nautilus//. Soon thereafter the Soviets also developed more nuclear-powered subs than the US fleet. The vessels were ideally suited for remaining submerged for long periods, undetected and without coming up for air, and for their ability to launch ballistic missiles. By 1997, the Soviet Union (later Russia) had built 245 of them—more than all other nations combined. The other countries possessing strategic nuclear-powered submarines are France, the United Kingdom, China, and India. ​ Brazil and Argentina are working toward acquiring their own such subs.((Sarah Diehl & Eduardo Fujii, [[https://​web.archive.org/​web/​20080316190357/​http:/​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|Brazil’s Pursuit of a Nuclear Submarine Raises Proliferation Concerns]]. //WMD Insights//. Archived from [[http://​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|the original]] on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 11 May 2019.)) 
 + 
 +**Nuclear-powered ​Submarines.** In 1954, during a serious phase of the Cold War, the United States launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, the //USS Nautilus//. Soon thereafter the Soviets also developed more nuclear-powered subs than the US fleet. The vessels were ideally suited for remaining submerged for long periods, undetected and without coming up for air, and for their ability to launch ballistic missiles. By 1997, the Soviet Union (later Russia) had built 245 of them—more than all other nations combined. The other countries possessing strategic nuclear-powered submarines are France, the United Kingdom, China, and India. ​ Brazil and Argentina are working toward acquiring their own such subs.((Sarah Diehl & Eduardo Fujii, [[https://​web.archive.org/​web/​20080316190357/​http:/​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|Brazil’s Pursuit of a Nuclear Submarine Raises Proliferation Concerns]]. //WMD Insights//. Archived from [[http://​www.wmdinsights.com/​I23/​I23_LA1_BrazilPursuit.htm|the original]] on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 11 May 2019.))
  
 Although in 1963 the US was first to lose a submarine with a large crew — 129 persons — it is the Russian nuclear-powered submarines that have experienced the largest number and most serious of such mishaps. Their //Kursk //sank in 2000, losing the crew of 118.((Brayton Harris, [[http://​www.submarine-history.com/​NOVAfour.htm|World Submarine History Timeline, Part Four: 1941-2000”]])) Although in 1963 the US was first to lose a submarine with a large crew — 129 persons — it is the Russian nuclear-powered submarines that have experienced the largest number and most serious of such mishaps. Their //Kursk //sank in 2000, losing the crew of 118.((Brayton Harris, [[http://​www.submarine-history.com/​NOVAfour.htm|World Submarine History Timeline, Part Four: 1941-2000”]]))
Line 107: Line 112:
 Every  two years a third of the fuel is replaced and the other two-thirds are moved around to make for even burning. After six years, the whole assembly is removed — long before all possible fission has taken place. Every  two years a third of the fuel is replaced and the other two-thirds are moved around to make for even burning. After six years, the whole assembly is removed — long before all possible fission has taken place.
  
-This “spent fuel” is of course still millions of times more radioactive than when it was fresh,​(([[https://​wiseinternational.org/​nuclear-energy/​nuclear-waste?​gclid=CjwKCAjwiN_mBRBBEiwA9N-e_h6KEiqrUkDeXiLk9D7Lbo2g_KdHNpT57SkKNYOmZdROUzJPyswpmBoCkgkQAvD_BwE|“Nuclear Waste”]], World Information Service on Energy. Retrieved May 12, 2019.)) and will remain dangerous for many thousands of years. ​ It is transferred immediately to a large pool of water, where it will remain submerged and cooled for about five years. Then, with the energy having decayed a bit, it can be moved to dry shielded casks. Usually these are kept on-site in concrete bunkers, awaiting transfer to a permanent location. A space the size of a football field can contain about thirty years of sa reactor’s high-level waste. ​+This “spent fuel” is of course still millions of times more radioactive than when it was fresh,​(([[https://​wiseinternational.org/​nuclear-energy/​nuclear-waste?​gclid=CjwKCAjwiN_mBRBBEiwA9N-e_h6KEiqrUkDeXiLk9D7Lbo2g_KdHNpT57SkKNYOmZdROUzJPyswpmBoCkgkQAvD_BwE|“Nuclear Waste”]], World Information Service on Energy. Retrieved May 12, 2019.)) and will remain dangerous for many thousands of years. ​ It is transferred immediately to a large pool of water, where it will remain submerged and cooled for about five years. Then, with the energy having decayed a bit, it can be moved to dry shielded casks. Usually these are kept on-site in concrete bunkers, awaiting transfer to a permanent location. A space the size of a football field can contain about thirty years of reactor’s high-level waste. ​
  
 The maintenance of these fuel rods at the reactor site is clearly a security problem, though the rods are too contaminated with other materials to be used as a nuclear bomb. They could, however, be used for “dirty bombs,” if the thieves could handle them without being killed themselves. A “dirty bomb” would be composed of a conventional explosive along with a package of radioactive waste, presumably to be exploded in some crowded spot. Many people might be killed locally and the area would be seriously contaminated,​ but the effects would be far more limited than from the explosion of a fission bomb. A “real” nuclear bomb must contain uranium or plutonium of a quality that requires reprocessing. ​ The maintenance of these fuel rods at the reactor site is clearly a security problem, though the rods are too contaminated with other materials to be used as a nuclear bomb. They could, however, be used for “dirty bombs,” if the thieves could handle them without being killed themselves. A “dirty bomb” would be composed of a conventional explosive along with a package of radioactive waste, presumably to be exploded in some crowded spot. Many people might be killed locally and the area would be seriously contaminated,​ but the effects would be far more limited than from the explosion of a fission bomb. A “real” nuclear bomb must contain uranium or plutonium of a quality that requires reprocessing. ​
  
 **Reprocessing.** And much nuclear waste is indeed reprocessed. The IAEA estimates that of the 370,000 metric tonnes of heavy metal produced so far by nuclear power reactors, 120,000 metric tonnes have been reprocessed.((World Nuclear Association,​ “Radioactive Waste Management,​” op. cit.)) **Reprocessing.** And much nuclear waste is indeed reprocessed. The IAEA estimates that of the 370,000 metric tonnes of heavy metal produced so far by nuclear power reactors, 120,000 metric tonnes have been reprocessed.((World Nuclear Association,​ “Radioactive Waste Management,​” op. cit.))
 +
 +Speaking at one of a series of international panels on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (2018), Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, (http://​www.recna.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/​recna/​psnanews/​22129 ) outlined possible international management options to deal with the existing large plutonium stockpile which is one of the most serious global security challenges. Four options are: 1) enhanced transparency by strengthening International Plutonium Management Guideline (INFCIRC/​549),​ 2) International Plutonium Storage, 3) International Cooperation on plutonium disposition,​ and 4) moratorium on commissioning new reprocessing facilities. RECNA, Research Centre for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, at Nagasaki University is a centre of expertise on this topic as Japan has a major plutonium processing facility. ​ As of the end of 2016, roughly 60% of it is civilian plutonium and about 97% is owned by four countries (UK 110 tons) France (65 tons) Russia (57 tons) and Japan (47 tons). ​  
  
 In this process, the fuel rods are chopped up and dissolved in nitric acid. The radioactive mixture is then processed chemically to remove the plutonium and uranium, which then can be mixed with depleted uranium oxide in a MOX fabrication plant to make fresh fuel. Unfortunately,​ that MOX fuel is more dangerous than uranium fuel, and it cannot be reprocessed. The remainder of the radioactive stew is still a high-level waste but its half-life may be reduced to about 9,000 years.((Ibid.)) Reprocessing does not reduce total radioactivity but only dilutes it by distributing it among several components, thereby allowing it to be reclassified as low-level waste, which is still deadly.((“Nuclear Waste,” World Information Service on Energy, op cit.))Separating out the plutonium makes it available for those who want to build a genuine nuclear bomb, thus compounding the difficulty of preventing weapons proliferation. Reprocessing offers no solution to either our safety or our security problems. ​ In this process, the fuel rods are chopped up and dissolved in nitric acid. The radioactive mixture is then processed chemically to remove the plutonium and uranium, which then can be mixed with depleted uranium oxide in a MOX fabrication plant to make fresh fuel. Unfortunately,​ that MOX fuel is more dangerous than uranium fuel, and it cannot be reprocessed. The remainder of the radioactive stew is still a high-level waste but its half-life may be reduced to about 9,000 years.((Ibid.)) Reprocessing does not reduce total radioactivity but only dilutes it by distributing it among several components, thereby allowing it to be reclassified as low-level waste, which is still deadly.((“Nuclear Waste,” World Information Service on Energy, op cit.))Separating out the plutonium makes it available for those who want to build a genuine nuclear bomb, thus compounding the difficulty of preventing weapons proliferation. Reprocessing offers no solution to either our safety or our security problems. ​
Line 137: Line 144:
 The summits were occasions for heads and state and government to discuss threats of nuclear security. Negotiators for the various countries (known as “Sherpas” and “Sous Sherpas”) conferred in between the meetings nd prepared commitments and declarations of intent to be presented in the next session. As a result, all the participating countries agreed to pursue optimum security for any highly enriched uranium or plutonium in their custody and, if at all possible, the reduction in the use of these materials. This involved more frequent reviews of state security by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).(([[https://​www.nss2016.org/​|Website of the Nuclear Security Summit]], 2016)) The summits were occasions for heads and state and government to discuss threats of nuclear security. Negotiators for the various countries (known as “Sherpas” and “Sous Sherpas”) conferred in between the meetings nd prepared commitments and declarations of intent to be presented in the next session. As a result, all the participating countries agreed to pursue optimum security for any highly enriched uranium or plutonium in their custody and, if at all possible, the reduction in the use of these materials. This involved more frequent reviews of state security by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).(([[https://​www.nss2016.org/​|Website of the Nuclear Security Summit]], 2016))
  
-The fourth summit ended with the plans for an expanded membership in the Nuclear Security contact group, which would meet in various ​for a held, mainly in Vienna, the headquarters of IAEA.(([[https://​vcdup.org/​nuclear-security-afgter-the-summits/​|“Nuclear Security After the Summits”]],​ a report of a meeting in Vienna posted on 18 October 2016 by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.)) It is not obvious whether these meetings have resulted in much improvement in the security of the vast and growing waste materials around the world, especially since Obama was succeeded by a president with even greater aspirations for the growth in nuclear weapons.+The fourth summit ended with the plans for an expanded membership in the Nuclear Security contact group, which would meet in various ​places, mainly in Vienna, the headquarters of IAEA.(([[https://​vcdup.org/​nuclear-security-afgter-the-summits/​|“Nuclear Security After the Summits”]],​ a report of a meeting in Vienna posted on 18 October 2016 by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.)) It is not obvious whether these meetings have resulted in much improvement in the security of the vast and growing waste materials around the world, especially since Obama was succeeded by a president with even greater aspirations for the growth in nuclear weapons.
  
 ==== Notes ==== ==== Notes ====
radiation/all_states_shall_prioritize_the_long-term_control_and_safe_storage_of_radioactive_wastes_with_public_review.1557963262.txt.gz · Last modified: 2019/05/15 23:34 by 192.252.166.4