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

 

Bihar Living Soils Project

Publication | August 13, 2016 at 17:16

Bihar Diaries

Blog entry by Kirtana, Aditi and Nithin | August 10, 2016

"I always wanted to explore the world on my own terms but I had never had a chance to do it! Finally, when I became a part of Greenpeace, I could quentch my thirst for knowledge and be able to work for environment protection. ...

Kedia Naama: 24 volunteers, 51 hours of journey. 1 camp. So it begins!

Blog entry by Sanchita Mahajan | August 8, 2016

Suno #KediakiKahaan, Volunteers ki Zubaani (Listen to Kedia's story through the volunteers) For 3 years, I’ve been working with Greenpeace volunteers in Delhi. I also get lucky sometimes and get to work volunteers in other parts of...

For Each Time I Missed Thanking our Farmers, I Say it Now

Blog entry by Manjari Sharma | August 4, 2016

A version of this blog was first published on Youth Ki Awaaz You and I, in our daily lives have often heard about India’s agricultural crisis. There’s no denying that agriculture is essential and an indispensable part of nature.

Powering Ecological Agriculture in India

Blog entry by Prateek Singhal | July 27, 2016

Over the past few decades India has seen a steep growth in the production of perishable horticulture commodities having limited shelf life but high on nutrition value. The technological advancements and improved scientific way of...

Ecological is not Rocket Science!

Blog entry by Shivani Shah | July 18, 2016

Always wanted to do your bit to promote Ecological Agriculture in India? We bring you some great tips to get you started! Healthy Soils = Healthy People. Yes, soil is the foundation for agriculture. Good soil supports a...

The Kedia Model Is Here

Feature story | July 14, 2016 at 12:31

13 July 2016: Kedia, Jamui district, Bihar: Farmers in Kedia village are adopting ecological agricultural practices. It's a sustainable model and steadily being known as the "Kedia model".

IEA Corroborates Greenpeace India’s Findings On Air Pollution

Feature story | June 27, 2016 at 19:06

New Delhi, Monday|27th June 2016| The International Energy Agency in its recent report “World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Air Pollution” [1] has reaffirmed Greenpeace India’s previously-stated position on thermal power plants...

Stuff That Inspires

Blog entry by Aswira Siraj Pasha | June 17, 2016

It was a pretty exciting week. The kind that makes your toes want to launch you out of bed. It was a challenge that I did not intend to give up or lose. My mission you ask? Make sure we had a packed hall at the Greenpeace India's...

Greenpeace Analyses Coal Revenues Suffer Rs 2,400 Crore Loss In 2016 Due To Drought

Feature story | June 13, 2016 at 18:33

June 9, 2016, Mumbai: The water scarcity crippling large parts of India has already cost coal power companies nearly 7 billion units in lost electricity generation, with an estimated revenue loss of Rs. 2,400 crore in the first five months of...

1 - 10 of 3867 results.