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

 

The Perils of Throw-Away Economy

Blog entry by Manjari Sharma | January 10, 2018

The Plasticky Problem 500,000,000,000 per year. Wondering what that figure is? It’s the number of plastic bottles produced by the beverage industry around the world every.single.year. 500 billion bottles lovingly filled with...

Concerned citizens demand a Clean Air Action Plan

Image | January 10, 2018 at 6:21

Concerned citizens demand a Clean Air Action Plan

People Power Wins!

Blog entry by Grace Saji | January 2, 2018

A new year has begun. And many promises have been made. Only time will tell if they will be kept or broken. But our health, our forests, and our oceans cannot wait. Our governments and the big corporations must know that we are aware...

The MoEFCC Has Spoken: A National Clean Air Programme for India

Blog entry by Nandikesh Sivalingam | December 20, 2017

Amid all the bad news on air quality, there is a ray of hope. After two years of incessant public demand for a comprehensive national action plan to tackle air pollution, the government has finally stated in the parliament that they...

MoEFCC: For People Or For Thermal Power Plants

Blog entry by Diya Deb | December 18, 2017

Last March, my family forced me to pay a visit to our doctor at Chittaranjan Park in Delhi for a diagnosis of my dry cough. It had been lingering for over two months. The doctor gave me a concerned look from behind his specs and asked...

Procrastination, Thy Name is Human!

Blog entry by Payal Gunaki | December 12, 2017

I live in Pune, the second largest city in Maharashtra. Also known as “The Oxford of the East”, it is a sprawling city known for its cultural heritage (base of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire) and is now set to become a Smart City.

Direct Communication at the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi

Image | December 11, 2017 at 12:07

Direct Communication at the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi

CAN_Direct_Communication

Image | December 11, 2017 at 12:03

Direct Communication at the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi

1 - 10 of 3939 results.