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Storage of Nuclear waste

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ten0rman
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Storage of Nuclear waste

#199418

Postby ten0rman » February 6th, 2019, 9:34 pm

We all know that one of the tenets (right word?) of the EU is to hold referendums until the people come up with the desired result, but how about this one?

Sellafield holds a lot of Nuclear waste, about two-thirds or was it three-quarters of the UK waste, and government would very much like to store it deep underground where it can be forgotten about for a few 100 years or so. It seems they would very much like to do this in West Cumbria, so they have asked councils and residents to agree to it. They've even had geologists examining the area: and said geologists have commented about the fractured underground around here. Nevertheless, they have tried twice already, and been soundly rebuffed one way or another. Guess what, Copeland Council are discussing underground long term nuclear waste storage, again. That'll make three times to my knowledge.

Now I know this stuff has to go somewhere, but to the best of my knowledge, although this area is rocky etc, the deep ground has been discovered to be broken, fissured etc with the inevitable risk of contaminated waste seepage. So why are they trying again? Is it because we are thought to be ignorant country bumpkins? Or is it because the area is reasonably sparsely populated? I dunno, but how about another suggestion - lets put it under the Houses of Parliament!

Regards,

ten0rman

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199434

Postby UncleEbenezer » February 6th, 2019, 10:39 pm

We have some disused claypits near here. Geologically stable, and among granite that's naturally more radioactive than your waste. An ideal place for it. Except that it would have to be moved, which is when it's at risk.

Though come to think of it, maybe what would be still better would be the areas blighted by arsenic from past mining operations. Those are long-term toxic, not just to animals but even plant life: you see a big bare patch in the hillside. Much nastier than nuclear waste.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199456

Postby scotia » February 7th, 2019, 12:31 am

I'm on Uncle's side on this. Its the word "nuclear" that seems to strike fear into the hearts of the general populace. The BBC still go on about the Fukushima Nuclear "Disaster" - although no one was killed or are likely to be significantly affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Point. In contrast the tsunami killed around 16,000 persons - in boats, houses, vehicles etc - but apparently the general perception (in the BBC) was that the only "Disaster" was at the Nuclear Power Plant.
I notice that the medical fraternity have dropped the word Nuclear in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging - presumably if you don't mention it, it can't be nasty.
Uncle has correctly brought up the subject of the "natural" radioactivity from granite (which contains uranium - and emits radon gas) - and no one seems to worry much about it. Indeed I understand that granite kitchen work tops are the current rage, and Aberdeen is called the granite city. Research carried out at Oxford, and funded by Cancer Research UK estimated that 3.3% of lung cancer deaths are linked to "natural" radon.
I currently live in a village free from radon. If I had to choose between living in a high radon area or living in one with nuclear power station waste safely enclosed and stored underground - I know which I would find the less dangerous.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199691

Postby GoSeigen » February 7th, 2019, 7:38 pm

scotia wrote:]but apparently the general perception (in the BBC) was that the only "Disaster" was at the Nuclear Power Plant.

A few links and quotes from bbc.co.uk to demonstrate this would be nice, else it's a straw man.

If I had to choose between living in a high radon area or living in one with nuclear power station waste safely enclosed and stored underground - I know which I would find the less dangerous.


And if the waste was just dumped somewhere around the power station, or spewing into the air or water like at Fukushima, would you still find it less dangerous?


GS
[EDIT: Quick Google search shows the BBC is pretty balanced in its coverage, IMO:

https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Abbc.co.uk+japan+tsunami
]

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199773

Postby scotia » February 8th, 2019, 2:29 am

GoSeigen wrote:A few links and quotes from bbc.co.uk to demonstrate this would be nice, else it's a straw man.

On several occasions the BBC web site has referred to the "Fukushima Disaster", and I have written to them explaining that there was no disaster at Fukushima. I have received no responses. Simply google "Fukushima Disaster BBC" and you will get plenty of BBC references to the "Disaster" at Fukushima.
I know of no plans for "waste" from a nuclear power station to be simply "dumped" around the power station. The waste is categorised into levels, all of which is disposed of in a safe manner. Approximately 94% (by volume) of all radioactive waste is Low Level Waste - e.g. scrap materials. The High Level waste arises from reprocessing spent fuel. It is vitrified into a stable solid form within stainless steel containers, and the current plan is to store it in this manner above ground for around 50 years, until much of the radioactivity decays. The preferred long term disposal option (at the end of the 50 years) is to enclose it in a further two containers before depositing it underground. I stand by my earlier statement that I would find living in such a disposal area considerably less dangerous (radioactively) than living in a naturally occurring high-radon area (of which there are many).
The radioactive waste spewing into the air or water at Fukushima was almost exclusively tritium - a weak beta emitter whose particles are unable to penetrate skin - it is commonly used in consumer glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs. A real tragedy associated with Fukushima was the large number of Fukushima inhabitants who were needlessly moved away from their homes - and this undoubtedly created stress which may have resulted in deaths. A further over-reaction was the shutting down of all nuclear power stations in Japan, which generated 30% of Japan's electricity. They are now proposing to restart many of these plants in order to meet their climate accord obligations.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199775

Postby GoSeigen » February 8th, 2019, 6:12 am

scotia wrote:
GoSeigen wrote:A few links and quotes from bbc.co.uk to demonstrate this would be nice, else it's a straw man.

On several occasions the BBC web site has referred to the "Fukushima Disaster", and I have written to them explaining that there was no disaster at Fukushima. I have received no responses.


Well that's pedantic in the extreme or you know nothing about Japan. What response did you expect??


GS

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199787

Postby TUK020 » February 8th, 2019, 7:24 am

scotia wrote:On several occasions the BBC web site has referred to the "Fukushima Disaster", and I have written to them explaining that there was no disaster at Fukushima. I have received no responses. Simply google "Fukushima Disaster BBC" and you will get plenty of BBC references to the "Disaster" at Fukushima.
I know of no plans for "waste" from a nuclear power station to be simply "dumped" around the power station. The waste is categorised into levels, all of which is disposed of in a safe manner. Approximately 94% (by volume) of all radioactive waste is Low Level Waste - e.g. scrap materials. The High Level waste arises from reprocessing spent fuel. It is vitrified into a stable solid form within stainless steel containers, and the current plan is to store it in this manner above ground for around 50 years, until much of the radioactivity decays. The preferred long term disposal option (at the end of the 50 years) is to enclose it in a further two containers before depositing it underground. I stand by my earlier statement that I would find living in such a disposal area considerably less dangerous (radioactively) than living in a naturally occurring high-radon area (of which there are many).
The radioactive waste spewing into the air or water at Fukushima was almost exclusively tritium - a weak beta emitter whose particles are unable to penetrate skin - it is commonly used in consumer glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs. A real tragedy associated with Fukushima was the large number of Fukushima inhabitants who were needlessly moved away from their homes - and this undoubtedly created stress which may have resulted in deaths. A further over-reaction was the shutting down of all nuclear power stations in Japan, which generated 30% of Japan's electricity. They are now proposing to restart many of these plants in order to meet their climate accord obligations.


Scotia,
thank you for the perspective. Very educational
tuk020

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199806

Postby AleisterCrowley » February 8th, 2019, 9:06 am

scotia wrote:The radioactive waste spewing into the air or water at Fukushima was almost exclusively tritium - a weak beta emitter whose particles are unable to penetrate skin


That's Alpha particles surely ?
From memory - alpha- paper (or skin}, beta- sheet of metal, gamma-big lead blocks...
(Tritium is a beta emitter)

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199813

Postby scotia » February 8th, 2019, 9:18 am

AleisterCrowley wrote:
scotia wrote:The radioactive waste spewing into the air or water at Fukushima was almost exclusively tritium - a weak beta emitter whose particles are unable to penetrate skin


That's Alpha particles surely ?
From memory - alpha- paper (or skin}, beta- sheet of metal, gamma-big lead blocks...
(Tritium is a beta emitter)

The penetration depth of Beta particles is dependent on their energy. The Beta particles emitted by Tritium are "weak" - they average around 6keV - and can't penetrate skin. Indeed they can only penetrate less than a centimetre in air. You are correct however about high energy Beta particles from other sources - but not from Tritium.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199816

Postby AleisterCrowley » February 8th, 2019, 9:21 am

Ah, thanks Scotia-
makes sense, particularly when one considers tritium 'betalights' and watches

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199829

Postby UncleEbenezer » February 8th, 2019, 9:57 am

Who remembers luminous watches? I first had one in my teens, and it was a great thing to be able to read it in the dark.

There was also a story around then (mid-late '70s) of a consignment of dead luminous watches that needed to be disposed of. They were due to be processed at Sellafield, until someone found the radiation level to be higher than Sellafield was licenced to work with. So they had to be sent to the military for disposal instead.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199836

Postby AleisterCrowley » February 8th, 2019, 10:17 am

Watches (and aircraft instruments, military kit etc) used to use radium paint
There's a famous health and safety/workers'right case - "Radium Girls"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium_Girls

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199846

Postby GoSeigen » February 8th, 2019, 10:47 am

TUK020 wrote:
scotia wrote:On several occasions the BBC web site has referred to the "Fukushima Disaster", and I have written to them explaining that there was no disaster at Fukushima. I have received no responses. Simply google "Fukushima Disaster BBC" and you will get plenty of BBC references to the "Disaster" at Fukushima.
I know of no plans for "waste" from a nuclear power station to be simply "dumped" around the power station. The waste is categorised into levels, all of which is disposed of in a safe manner. Approximately 94% (by volume) of all radioactive waste is Low Level Waste - e.g. scrap materials. The High Level waste arises from reprocessing spent fuel. It is vitrified into a stable solid form within stainless steel containers, and the current plan is to store it in this manner above ground for around 50 years, until much of the radioactivity decays. The preferred long term disposal option (at the end of the 50 years) is to enclose it in a further two containers before depositing it underground. I stand by my earlier statement that I would find living in such a disposal area considerably less dangerous (radioactively) than living in a naturally occurring high-radon area (of which there are many).
The radioactive waste spewing into the air or water at Fukushima was almost exclusively tritium - a weak beta emitter whose particles are unable to penetrate skin - it is commonly used in consumer glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs. A real tragedy associated with Fukushima was the large number of Fukushima inhabitants who were needlessly moved away from their homes - and this undoubtedly created stress which may have resulted in deaths. A further over-reaction was the shutting down of all nuclear power stations in Japan, which generated 30% of Japan's electricity. They are now proposing to restart many of these plants in order to meet their climate accord obligations.


Scotia,
thank you for the perspective. Very educational
tuk020


To be clear I'm sympathetic with the nuclear-technical aspects of these posts. They're spoiled by:

-the appearance of some sort of personal vendetta against the BBC, singled out for criticism from the many thousands of other news outlets, study authors, universities and official organisations which happily use the phrase "Fukushima Disaster" (400,000 hits on google, most of them NOT BBC believe it or not!)
-the assertion that there was no disaster at Fukushima (power plant), when in fact by the standard of any reasonable person what happened to the plant was a disaster for the company, its workers, the plant which was destroyed, and the community around the plant. No-one, not even the BBC believes it was the Hiroshima-size straw-man disaster invented by this poster, but they can feel sympathy for the many people who were affected by it.
-attacking a perfectly sensible and well understood phrase as a proxy for the hobby horse that the poster is perched upon.


Re: "needless removal of people": I bet the poster would vilify the authorities if in contrast they'd negligently left people near the plant if they suffered loss as a result. His argument is the equivalent to saying people were needlessly interrupted and inconvenienced to evacuate them from those low-lying areas that turned out not to be inundated by the tsunami: the authorities should have told those ones to stay where they were because they would not get flooded, neglecting to acknowledge that the evacuation though broader than necessary in hindsight saved thousands of lives where flooding DID occur. It's easy to make these god-like observations years after the fact, but when thousands of people have just perished in a disaster that has devastated your coastline, and you have a nuclear plant potentially in meltdown with critically damaged infrastructure and communications you have to make decisions WITHIN THAT CONTEXT about the potential future safety of vulnerable people -- not from the comfort of your reclining chair eight years later.

Similarly decisions about what to do with nuclear waste are informed by a consideration of the risks they present in the future which by definition is uncertain and unknowable. The OP illustrates the extent of NYMBYism involved in merely proposing storage in people's back yard. If scotia's prophetic optimism were mistaken and some unforeseen accident occurred, hindsight-experts like him would be the first to whine about the incompetence of the people who'd made the decision 20 years ago to put waste near their homes and loved ones.


GS

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199849

Postby Mike88 » February 8th, 2019, 10:50 am

It was my understanding that there was some support within Cumbria for the idea of having a deep storage facility for high level nuclear waste near to the point where much of the waste originates - namely the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant. Of course the geology of the area is important but as a point of principle this waste should be deposited as close as possible to its point of origin and presumably someone somewhere believes a suitable facility can be engineered to overcome any possible geological difficulties even though that might cost more money. Nuclear waste does of course originate in places other than Cumbria but it has been concluded, probably sensibly, there should be only one national facility for this waste. The good people of Cumbria have benefited particularly from the existence of the Plant as it provides employment directly and indirectly for many thousands of people in the local area and now you want to dump the waste elsewhere. There will always be objections to anything nuclear but I have to disagree with the notion that it should be dumped anywhere but Cumbria.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199868

Postby scotia » February 8th, 2019, 11:46 am

Goseigen - I'm reluctant to start a chain of correspondence that should probably be best placed in Polite Discussions - which I don't visit.
However, let me try to explain my earlier comments in a non-confrontational manner. First let me state that the BBC is my first and most trusted supply of news. But the BBC is wrong to use the phrase Fukushima Nuclear Disaster - I have attempted to correct this without apparent success. And this repeated use of such terminology demonises the word nuclear, which leads to irrational fears and sometimes irrational and harmful actions.
I did not intend to comment on evacuations in Japan specifically from low lying ground - in case of flooding. Any such evacuations, if they occurred, should have happened over the entire coastline - and not just at Fukushima. I was commenting on the (long term) evacuations which took place around Fukushima due to an irrational fear of radiation from the Fukushima plant. It is now widely accepted that the evacuation was a mistake, and the prolonged evacuation is puzzling. One happy side effect was the demand by parents to have their children scanned, and this picked up a number of thyroid cancers which would not otherwise have been noticed - however these were unrelated to the Fukushima "disaster", and this was known because of the significant time lag between radiation exposure and the cancer development.
On a lighter note - who would like to eat their food off vintage Fiesta Dinner Ware - with its attractive red uranium oxide glaze? Or possibly drink out of Uranium glassware? Again - I would see these actions as providing rather more exposure to radiation than any deep store of vitrified high level nuclear waste.

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199951

Postby ten0rman » February 8th, 2019, 3:55 pm

As the OP, and hence having been on the receiving end of some unjustifiable remarks, please allow me to set the record straight.

Firstly, my original post was aimed at showing that whilst the EU has form in going back and repeatedly asking people a question until the people come up with the desired response, here was a situation where the UK government is doing exactly the same thing. That, my friends, was what I was originally on about. Now ok, maybe I didn't put it strong enough, or I didn't explain it properly - I know what I wanted to say, but probably didn't say it correctly, a failing that I've had thrown at me many, many times before.

Secondly, yes I did try and explain the reasons why it had been rejected before. And, most importantly, other than a dig at the HoP, I did not say anything about my personal beliefs - the dig at the HofP was meant to be tongue in cheek, lets face it, no-one in the right mind would even dream of putting it there. In fact, my own beliefs are that I do not understand all the ins and outs, and therefore cannot come to a reasoned decision. I have met people who work there, and am sort of dimly aware of the security aspects therein. Whatsmore, I do believe that with the known dangers, there will be adequate safeguards built in, but, I do think one has to consider the geological issues and be aware of what might, or might not happen.

So, please do not refer to me as a Nimby.

I have to say though, that on balance I am somewhat unsure about the desirability of Sellafield acting as the worlds storage for this stuff, because, and I don't remember the percentage, there is a certain amount from abroad. Why shouldn't "Much Sleeping in the Marsh" look after their own nuclear waste. And please don't say that it is because we have the expertise. Expertise can be exported.

Going back to my original point, if the population, whether or not they fully understand the risks, decides against the repository, shouldn't that be enough? Or should they be overridden in a roughshod manner? Or as seems to be happening, be asked again, and again, and again.

Regards,

ten0rman

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199965

Postby scotia » February 8th, 2019, 4:38 pm

ten0rman wrote:Going back to my original point, if the population, whether or not they fully understand the risks, decides against the repository, shouldn't that be enough? Or should they be overridden in a roughshod manner? Or as seems to be happening, be asked again, and again, and again.

The problem with conceding to local votes is that a whole range of activities would be vetoed in each back yard. E.G. there would be no votes for coal mines, oil wells, fracking, quarries, waste tips, prisons, airports, poultry farms, rock concert venues etc!

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199967

Postby UncleEbenezer » February 8th, 2019, 4:47 pm

ten0rman wrote:So, please do not refer to me as a Nimby.

Searching this page for nimby, it looks as if you're the first to say it. And my quote of you and response to it are the second and third.
I have to say though, that on balance I am somewhat unsure about the desirability of Sellafield acting as the worlds storage for this stuff, because, and I don't remember the percentage, there is a certain amount from abroad. Why shouldn't "Much Sleeping in the Marsh" look after their own nuclear waste. And please don't say that it is because we have the expertise. Expertise can be exported.

Fair point: there are arguments for and against. It's a drop in the ocean compared to shipping various waste to China, and they (eventually) cut back on that. For myself I'd much rather live next door to Sellafield than amidst less-regulated polluters: for example on Canvey Island, or an industrial incinerator producing dioxins. Let alone downwind from a woodburning stove :evil:
Going back to my original point, if the population, whether or not they fully understand the risks, decides against the repository, shouldn't that be enough? Or should they be overridden in a roughshod manner? Or as seems to be happening, be asked again, and again, and again.
ten0rman

You're up against <i>it's got to go somewhere</i>. Italy has what you're asking for: a community has strong rights to reject something like that in its backyard. As a consequence, Italy has much more serious problems with waste of many kinds than we do.
scotia wrote:The problem with conceding to local votes is that a whole range of activities would be vetoed in each back yard. E.G. there would be no votes for coal mines, oil wells, fracking, quarries, waste tips, prisons, airports, poultry farms, rock concert venues etc!

When you put it like that, it sounds like a great idea!

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#199997

Postby TUK020 » February 8th, 2019, 5:56 pm

scotia wrote:
ten0rman wrote:Going back to my original point, if the population, whether or not they fully understand the risks, decides against the repository, shouldn't that be enough? Or should they be overridden in a roughshod manner? Or as seems to be happening, be asked again, and again, and again.

The problem with conceding to local votes is that a whole range of activities would be vetoed in each back yard. E.G. there would be no votes for coal mines, oil wells, fracking, quarries, waste tips, prisons, airports, poultry farms, rock concert venues etc!


Local votes would also be vociferously against closure of the local hospital, despite it being the biggest source of background radiation for miles.
And the would complain about no cellular coverage; having vetoed all cell sites

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Re: Storage of Nuclear waste

#200018

Postby ten0rman » February 8th, 2019, 7:12 pm

Uncle,

Nimby is not a word I would normally use, hence I was not the first to use it in this thread. May I suggest that GoSeigon in post no. 199846, in his last paragraph is the one to which I refer.

Scotia,

Having memories of a rock concert we unwittingly heard despite being at least half a mile away then I certainly would object to one in my back yard, whilst some of the other activities happened at a time when the population had no say in the matter, you know, doff the cap, tug the forelock and keep quiet, or else! Today, we (possibly) know better. In respect of fracking though, if, as I understand it, fracking is causing earthquakes and consequent damage to peoples homes, then why should people have to put up it? We're not (yet) in a communist type state. Having said that, I admit that here again I do not know sufficient to be able to form a reasonable opinion.

Yes, these awkward industries do indeed have to go somewhere, the question though is where? And the secondary question is will the local population agree to it? The problem is that the local populations do not have the expertise or knowledge to ba able to make reasoned decisions and so end up being swayed by people who have their own objectives and are able to shout the loudest.

I do not think there is ever going to be a consensus on these problems: someone will always be unhappy.

Regards,

ten0rman


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