There is clearly no debate when it comes to the dangers of nuclear waste. However, while Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes does acknowledge this ("RP seeks help on nuclear waste, just in case," Inquirer 4/27/2009), he refuses to admit the fact that nuclear waste is a problem without any solution.
Even more outrageous is how he calls on developed countries to help solve the 'potential problem.' No country in the world--not even the US, France nor Japan--has yet figured out what to do with high level radioactive waste piling up in their backyards. Deadly nuclear waste is currently stored worldwide in interim facilities which frequently encounter accidents, such as a recent one in Tricastin, France in 2008, where radioactive material contaminated two rivers in a populated community.
And while the nuclear industry has plans for underground 'final repositories,' as a 'permanent solution' to radioactive waste, that's all they are--plans. None of them have yet been fully realized due to environment and cost concerns. Long-term nuclear waste storage is also impossible to plan for since the timeframe must consider the 240,000 years it takes for the deadly waste to be considered safe. Putting this into perspective, humankind has only been on Earth for
the last 200,000 years.
Hannes Alfvén, a Swedish scientist known for his non-nuclear stance and who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970, once said: "The problem is how to keep radioactive waste in storage until it decays after hundreds of thousands of years. The geologic deposit must be absolutely reliable as the quantities of poison are tremendous. It is very difficult to satisfy these requirements for the simple reason that we have had no practical experience with such a long term
project. Moreover, permanently guarded storage requires a society with unprecedented stability." Can anyone guarantee geological and social stability for the next thousand years? Of course not. Yet this is
crucial for nuclear waste storage to be safe.
Given the enormity of the problem of nuclear waste, our advice to Sec. Reyes is: the best way to solve a potential problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
There are better, safer and cheaper ways of producing electricity, namely via renewable energy sources which are abundant in the Philippines. The DOE should scrap its senseless pursuit of nuclear energy and truly go renewable.