After having read the research on nuclear waste storage by Lubna Hamdan, John Walton and Aruro Woocay, I have come away with a better understanding of the safety of this contentious part of nuclear energy production. It is absolutely vital that the public is aware of this kind of information so that informed and correct decisions can be made in regard to nuclear energy.
This journal article, entitled ‘Safety Implications For an Unsaturated Zone Nuclear Waste Repository’, gives support for the underground storage of spent nuclear fuel, also known as SNF, a waste product of this form of energy production. The authors highlighted that the storage of SNF underground, in the correct soil profile, has a very low risk of causing environmental and health impacts. In the event that seepage does occur from the storage structure, it occurs over a long and prolonged time period of 10,000- 1 million years.
Radiation, which is fundamentally harmful energetic waves emitted from nuclear waste and material, is a major concern for many people. Fortunately nuclear waste has a limited time for which it emits dangerous radiation. Storage offers a resolution while it remains a concern. This also reduces the risk of harm in the unlikely event that seepage into the soil does occur from a storage facility, as the radiation levels would have deceased over time. As a result the conclusion drawn from the study is that the underground storage of nuclear waste is an effective and safe option, with very low risk, for handling SNF.
What the public needs to understand is that nuclear energy is becoming an increasingly important political issue as nations are pushed by the need to act on climate change and energy security. Nuclear power offers a low emissions alternative to fossil fuel based power. While Uranium, the element used in nuclear energy production, is readily available, particularly in Australia.
Presently its seems that main image that comes to mind for many when nuclear power is mentioned is the idiotic Homer Simpson and his adventures in Springfield’s nuclear power plant, (Apologies to my older readers, the crux is that, The Simpson’s TV Show does not give a good representation of nuclear power). Although there are many other examples of media influencing how people observe nuclear risks, this is of particularly popularity. These risks are often perceived to be much greater then they are due to such influences. This is particularly the case with nuclear wastes, security and radiation exposure.
Nuclear waste presents one of the major concerns of many people unsure about this form of energy production. By taking into account this new information in combination with the already proven benefits, a strong case can be made for developing nuclear energy in Australia. The public needs to ensure that they move away from the ignorance of The Simpson’s and seek out this information so that they can see the true advantages and low risks of nuclear energy.