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

 

Closing the Loop: Urban Organic Waste to Local Farms

Blog entry by Pinky Chandran | October 31, 2017

Given that Bangalore generates over 5000 tons of waste daily, 60% of this waste is organic. The potential to halve the problem of waste to landfill is enormous. And the need of the hour is to accelerate segregated waste collection in...

Wildlife Week: The Conservation Story of the Lions of Gir

Blog entry by Ravi Chellam | October 8, 2017

India is privileged to be home to 15 species of wild cats which is a world record as no other country has this many species of wild cats. We used to have 16 species till about the early 1950s when unfortunately due to hunting the...

The Weekend That Was

Blog entry by Drishti Mrigwani and Karthikeyan Hemalatha | September 28, 2017

We write poems about, we travel with great dedication and passion, we switch to macro lenses to get that perfect shot. We pay through our noses to buy/ rent. It is land that we depend on, yearn for and make livelihoods out of. We even...

Make Your Own Black Gold

Blog entry by Shivani Shah | September 18, 2017

Do you yearn for the fragrance of the forest or miss petrichor wafting through your window after the first rains? Well, here’s how you can make your own heaven. This simple method will enable you to make your own compost with the food...

Cyclothon

Image gallery | September 18, 2017

Halla Bol! Resilience at Narmada Valley - A Live Account

Blog entry by Ruhie Kumar & Avinash Kumar | September 17, 2017

This is not a story. This is one of the most powerful environmental movements led by the resilient people across the Narmada Valley, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. As I write this, the Sardar Sarovar Dam stands inaugurated...

It's Deadly, and It's Blowing In the Wind

Blog entry by Grace Saji | September 14, 2017

It takes more than just having breakfast to keep you healthy. If you didn't live in a countryside far away from the industries and all, then know this: The air you’re breathing is toxic air. There is no real action because the...

The Beetles Make A Comeback: “Come together, Right Now!”

Blog entry by Karthikeyan Hemalatha | August 31, 2017

Last Saturday, even the weather gods were confused. Slight drizzles, the sharp sun and gloomy clouds took turns to show up every few minutes. However, Greenpeace India was clear in its message: by segregating and composting  our waste,...

Make a Weekend Getaway Instead of Finding One!

Blog entry by Ruhie Kumar | August 16, 2017

I am an Indian, living in the capital for the past four years. Today, the nation is 70 years old. I remember how in my younger days in school, one portion of our academics was dedicated to the freedom struggle. The dates, events,...

What a Sunday!

Blog entry by Shubhra Chaturvedi | July 13, 2017

Sundays are my favourite days, and not for the same reason as most of you. I work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and I couldn't have been more happy. I quit my corporate job a year and half ago and followed my heart that resided in...

1 - 10 of 3927 results.