Reply to post: Re: sustainable, clean energy

Tesla undecimates its workforce but Elon insists everything's absolutely fine

MonkeyCee Silver badge

Re: sustainable, clean energy

"It's also the safest form of energy."

It's not that simple. Many nuclear projects are covered by national security, and they simply do not publish the deaths and injuries. Taking that to mean "there were no deaths and injuries" is what a lot of pro-nuke types use. Allowing for a reasonable estimate of deaths in construction, mining and refining it is pretty safe (relative to hydrocarbons) but with a big question mark over disposal.

The equivalent would be to declare hydro power the safest form of energy, as long as you ignore dam failures.

Same goes for reactor meltdowns. Once it goes wrong, you can get it to a stable (ie not blowing up) state, but you're still left with a pile of radioactive steel, as well as a mess of fuel rods.

If you want some scary reading, check out the status of B30 and B38 at Sellafield (nee WIndscale). Storage ponds with unknown amounts of fuel rods, cladding and parts from a meltdown, from the 70's, with a hopeful cleanup date of 2050. Not disposed off, just sorted, refined back into uranium, plutonium and 3-5% "sludge of doom". I think they've stopped dumping waste in the Irish Sea, but it's a difficult and unsolved problem.

Even the most optimistic views on a reprocessing still result in 2-3% of highly radioactive material that we can't feed into a nuke, and is problematic to store (it's a mix of materials and isotopes). Currently we mix it with glass and fuse it all together, then stick it in shielded containers.

With the current waste stash at Sellafield (~200 tonnes) that's several tonnes of sludge of doom. With a half life equivalent to roughly the existence of homo sapiens. I'm not sure anyone is able to estimate how safe that is.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019