What Exactly Is Nuclear Waste?

What Exactly Is Nuclear Waste? Radioactive (or nuclear) waste is a byproduct from nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, hospitals and research facilities. Furthermore, radioactive waste generates while decommissioning and dismantling nuclear reactors and other nuclear facilities. There are two broad classifications: high-level or low-level waste.

1. Pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has global effects whereas the effects of nuclear waste are local.

2. Every year, the lives of seven million people are cut short, by waste products in the form of air pollution, from burning biomass and fossil fuels, very few people have ever been harmed by nuclear waste.

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3. Moreover, if all the nuclear waste from U.S. power plants falls on a football field, it would stack up just 50 feet high (~15 meters). In comparison to the waste produced by every other kind of electricity production, that quantity is close to zero.

4. Waste such as mercury and arsenic from coal power plants and solar panels is forever toxic since it does not decay. In contrast, nuclear waste automatically becomes less problematic with time.

5. Nuclear waste is not really waste. It is a precious material reused as fuel for the next generation of nuclear plants. This means that there is no need for long-term storage solutions.

6. Shipping containers used to transport nuclear materials are *MUCH* safer than BSL-4 laboratories containing viruses that can cause pandemics.

7. If our distant descendants are unable to deal with nuclear waste then they will also be unable to deal with the large asteroids. That are expected to hit Earth over the same period of time. In other words, nuclear waste will be the least of their worries.

8. Lastly, every 7 centimeters of water cuts the amount of radiation in half. You could dive a few meters from highly radioactive fuel rods for as long as you want and receive a lower dose of radiation than walking around on the street. In other words, we could safely dump nuclear waste into the oceans (which by the way naturally contain 4 billion tons of uranium).

Paul Romer on Science

What Exactly Is Nuclear Waste?