Nuclear Waste – A Modest Proposal for a Small Problem

Waste disposal is not a disadvantage of nuclear power; it is one of its advantages.

But for opponents of nuclear power, they can’t help themselves from turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear, the sow and her wallowing in the mire.

Nuclear power production is the only power production process that actually can sequester its byproducts from the environment. Solar and wind can’t do this. (Please ask me about the hydrofluoric acid used to make solar cells or the bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin used to make wind turbine blades.)

Dr. Bernard Cohen calculated that the lifetime nuclear waste, assuming that all electricity produced was from nuclear, for one person would amount to about an aspirin bottle.IMG_8416

I don’t remember the aspirin bottle analogy, but the actual radioactive waste produced is about 0.5 cubic centimeter per year per person serviced — assuming that each person uses an average of 1 KW. That would be about 35 cm3 per lifetime, which approximates an aspirin bottle. If the material is converted to waste-glass, the volume would be about 10 times larger. I have published lots of papers on risk analysis of rad waste and can send you copies if that would be useful. If you want this, please specify whether you want technical or popular versions. The material is also covered in my book, “The nuclear Energy Option” Bernard L. Cohen

Dr. Cohen’s calculation of the amount of nuclear waste per person was based on first generation nuclear power plants using light water technology. Others have calculated that the amount would fit in a soda can.IMG_8454

Still others have calculated that the amount of nuclear waste, using a liquid fluoride thorium reactor, would be about the same as a package of Skittles I got from my local credit union. Also, many of the fission products have economic value. They are not waste and do not need to be disposed of.

IMG_8409Of the remaining amount that is actually waste, my very modest proposal for this small amount of nuclear waste is to take it with me when I go.

Concrete vault and coffinI could hold it in my hand inside my coffin and concrete vault while I await resurrection.

bwr