Impacts of nuclear waste

Nuclear wastes are normally classified as low, medium or high-level, according to the amount and types of radioactivity they contain. The high-level waste produced by nuclear reactors is the longest lasting contamination risk of a nuclear power plant.

The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is a so-called ‘Generation III’ design of nuclear reactor, designed to use fuel more efficiently. But the amount of dangerous materials in spent nuclear fuel increases significantly with the time the fuel stays in the reactor. Studies have shown that nuclear fuel from EPRs will be up to seven times more hazardous per unit of electric output because of the drastic increases in the amount of easily released, dangerous and long-lasting isotopes such as iodine-129 (1) that that produced by existing nuclear reactors(2).

All of the options for handling nuclear waste have potentially large environmental and health impacts: waste disposal sites have the potential to contaminate the environment for hundreds of thousands of years(3) if the radionuclide dispersion barriers fail; transports of high-level waste or plutonium are at risk from accidents or deliberate attacks and reprocessing facilities have large routine emissions of radioactive substances.

The impacts of a chosen method of waste management should be included in the EIA; if one has not yet been selected then impacts of all possibilities – whether waste is buried on site, transported elsewhere for disposal or reprocessed - should be assessed.

The Jaitapur EIA report ignores the impact of nuclear waste, and questions raised about it during the public hearing have been given conflicting answers. Some say that the waste will be transported away from the site for reprocessing; others indicate that the government will later decide upon establishing a reprocessing facility on site. No assessment of the impacts of either of these is presented. Questions about high-level waste are answered with information about low and medium-level wastes.

 

Sources:

(1) The amount of iodine-129 instantly released, if and when the nuclear waste dump leaks, is seven times as large in the case of the high burn-up waste produced bythe EPR reactor, compared to typical currently operating world reactors.

(2) Posiva 2008, Environmental Impact Assessment Report, p. 137. www.posiva.fi/files/519/Posiva_YVA_selostusraportti_en_lukittu.pdf, Nagra (2004): Estimates of the Instant Release Fraction for UO2 and MOX Fuel at t=0.
www.nagra.ch/g3.cms/s_page/83220/s_name/shopproductdetail1/s_element/142590/s_level
/10190/s_product/20408/searchkey/Instant%20Release%20Fraction

(3) It takes 240,000 years for radioactive plutonium to decay to a level that is safe for human exposure http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/deadly-legacy/

The latest updates

 

Mahan forests inviolate– No Go for mining says MoEF

Feature story | February 24, 2015 at 12:08

India’s most controversial coal mine project may not go ahead, according to government documents acquired by Greenpeace through RTI.

'Freeze mob' to demand clean air for Delhi - ToxiCity

Blog entry by Ishita Gupta | February 22, 2015

Yesterday, after nearly 2 weeks of preparation, Volunteers from Greenpeace Delhi successfully conducted two freeze mobs in a span of 2 hours in 2 different locations with more than 50 people .   Last year after the launch of...

Story of Mahan needs to be heard

Blog entry by Priya Pillai | February 17, 2015

I am an Indian citizen who is not afraid to raise my voice against violations of laws that have been put in place to protect the aam aadmi’s rights . I fight to ensure that rampant coal mining in forest areas is only done in...

We need to protect our children from this #ToxiCity now!

Blog entry by Aishwarya Madineni | February 17, 2015

Delhi has been ranked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s most polluted city and it is estimated that 10,000 pre-mature deaths occur every year in the city due to air pollution. The Meteorological Department’s live...

Delhi Shines, at Holy Family Hospital

Blog entry by Iqbal Munawwar and Sanchita Mahajan | February 5, 2015

In our fight for a cleaner and greener planet, victories are often far and few. It takes years for campaigns to bear fruit and for our volunteer community to see tangible results of their long and hard work.  On Saturday, January 31...

Obama and Modi want to sell nuclear power to India that is too dangerous and...

Blog entry by Hozefa Merchant, Sunanda Mehta & Jim Riccio | January 30, 2015

Only two new nuclear plants are being built in the US and even they are way over budget. The recent “breakthrough” in the nuclear talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama has raised more...

Are the green spaces in Delhi free from air pollution?

Blog entry by Aishwarya Madineni | January 28, 2015

Are the green spaces in Delhi free from air pollution? The common assumption that one would have about a green space such as a park or a lake-side trail is that it is free from pollution and contamination.  Many look at these...

Priya Pillai files writ petition in Delhi High Court

Publication | January 27, 2015 at 16:15

Following the unfortunate incident with me at the New Delhi International Airport on January 11, I have filed a writ petition in the High Court of Delhi challenging the illegal and arbitrary nature in which I was ‘offloaded’ on my trip to the UK.

Greenpeace Activist Priya Pillai files writ petition in Delhi High Court

Feature story | January 27, 2015 at 16:13

Greenpeace activist, Priya Pillai has filed a writ petition on 27 January 2015, in the Delhi High Court challenging her illegal and arbitrary offloading at the Delhi International Airport on 11 January.

Obama will come, Obama will go, Delhiites will have no respite from toxic air

Blog entry by Aishwarya Madineni | January 26, 2015

As soon as the news on India’s most-awaited chief guest for its 66 th Republic Day was announced, the international media and the U.S. Govt were quick to take note of the levels of air pollution in Delhi. The U.S. Embassy in Delhi,...

1 - 10 of 3726 results.