The OL3 EPR reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland

Reactor construction at Olkiluoto 3

(© Greenpeace/Nick Cobbing)

Following the French government’s announcement that it wants to build a second EPR reactor comes the news that the nuclear waste produced by this so-called state of the art reactor is far more dangerous than that of ordinary reactors.

The disturbing news was buried on page 137 of the Environmental Impact Assessment prepared by Posiva, the company responsible for managing waste at the world's first EPR currently under construction at Olkiluoto, Finland and also in findings by the National Co-operative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra).

In simple terms, the EPR reactor produces more of a radioactive isotope called Iodine-129 making its waste seven times more hazardous.

Iodine-129 is an isotope worth remembering. The numbers associated with it are staggering. It has a half-life of 16 million years but is still dangerous after more than 160 million years. To put it in context, the human race evolved from apes just five million years ago.

We as a species simply do not have the technology capable of storing this highly dangerous waste for such a huge length of time. Yet again we see how the nuclear industry’s claims about a ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ energy source are a lie. And that’s before we even get to discussing the enormous costs involved in attempting to dispose of this waste in anything close to a safe fashion (let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is in any way achievable).

So, the much heralded EPR, this third-generation, state of the art, flagship beacon of technological triumph is about to make the world a more dangerous place - and not just for us but for those living in the distant future.

That’s quite an achievement.