Saturday, April 28, 2012

Various National Nuclear Waste Repositories

If a country uses any nuclear power for either peacetime or war reasons, that country will have to dispose of nuclear wastes. That means finding a place to put the nuclear wastes. This brings up a NIMBY, or Not In My Back Yard, problem. It is almost inevitable that an area with a smaller population is going to get the nuclear wastes deposited in their back yard.

The UK is currently fighting over this matter because they have kept their nuclear wastes without a permanent home for a very long time. Since the UK was one of the earliest producers of nuclear wastes they must have a lot of it. I can see why the battle over where to put it is rather heated. I can't say even a little nuclear waste is a pleasant prospect to have in my back yard. 

Here is a list of potential sites for the nuclear waste in the UK:

Adjacent to Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex
Ministry of Defence land on Potton Island, 8 km from Southend on Sea. Essex
Under the North Sea, accessed from the port at Redcar, Yorkshire
Under the sea between the Inner Hebrides and Northern Ireland, accessed from the port at Hunterston in North Ayrshire
Killingholme, South Humberside
Ministry of Defence training area, Stanford, Norfolk
Adjacent to Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness
Two sites near the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria
Altnabreac in Caithness 18 km south of Dounreay
Fuday, small, uninhabited island north of Barra in the Western Isles
Sandray, small, uninhabited island south of Barra in the Western Isles

This list is from the "New Scientist" site.

The following countries are also investigating sites for deep underground disposal of nuclear wastes: 
 Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and France. 

The USA already has a nuclear waste disposal site. It is called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for weapons waste in a salt formation 655 metres under the Chihuahuan Desert near Carlsbad in New Mexico. Another site is being considered. It is Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert. The Carlsbad, New Mexico one is for weapons waste disposal and the Yucca Mountain one is supposed to be for nuclear power plant disposal.

Here is a link to a pdf map of how much spent nuclear fuel is located in each of the states of the USA:

This map shows Alaska as having zero tons of spent nuclear fuel. I do not believe this to be true, since three atomic  bombs were tested here. Perhaps it is a semantics thing and they don't think it counts as spent fuel. 

They can use whatever words for it they want. I expect close examination of the vicinity would turn up a cousin to Blinky, the three-eyed fish, from the Simpsons cartoons.

The three nuclear test bombings were conducted on an island named Amchitka. "The island is actually part of a small crustal block being torn apart by oblique subduction — and is therefore one of the least stable tectonic environments in the United States." 

The above quote was from "Nuclear Stewardship: Lessons from a Not-So-Remote Island " by John Eichelberger, Jeff Freymueller, Graham Hill and Matt Patrick .  

The most important part that I took away from the above is that a lake formed by the nuclear bomb test on Amchitka is going to end up in the ocean. 

This is a big risk to international fishing. A lot of international ship traffic goes by there. It is closer than it appears on most maps. When shipping goes through the Northwest Passage at a good clip, it will pass by Amchitka too. 

Radioactive lake water in the ocean will be distinctly bad for the Aleutian Islands residents. It will not be good for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatksky, Russia either. That city is closer to Amchitka, than Anchorage Alaska is.

Greenpeace started up over the nuclear bomb tests at Amchitka. That was before anyone even knew just how bad an idea they were. Tectonic plate theory was not advanced enough to tell us about how geologically unstable Amchitka is. There is no known way to mitigate the danger from the Amchitka nuclear bomb test site.

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