Types of Nuclear Waste
 High-level : already used nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants/military bases/repossessed materials
o Even though nuclear fuel has been used it still gives off millions of “rems” of radiation
o Power plants usually store this waste in lead-steel rods immersed in water to slow the spread of gamma radiation temporarily
o Long term storage- has containers tailored to the amount of waste so that there is no chance of leaks
o Geological Disposal- where waste is put into tunnels built underground

Storage pools used for high-level wastes

Low-Level : remainder of wastes from smaller places like hospitals divided into 2 categories
o Fuel wastes- “are fission products that leak out of fuel rods and into cooling water.”
o Nonfuel wastes- “result when stray neutrons bombard anything in the core other than fuel--such as the reactor vessel itself--and cause them to become radioactive.”
warning.gif Problem! Instead of putting these wastes into low-level waste areas most are dumped down the drain into normal sanitation landfills regardless of whether or not they are radioactive.

Common Components:
- From isotopes such as carbon-14, potassium-40, uranium-238, thorium-232. Occur naturally in nature
- Fission: the process of destroying of nuclear waste by splitting nuclear atoms.
- Over 90% uranium uranium_symbol.jpg

Nuclear Waste definition: “material that nuclear fuel becomes after it is used in a reactor”
  • If waste is radioactive it can remain that way for thousands of years

Amount of Nuclear Waste from Nuclear Energy
- In the US 2002 it was calculated that 47,023.40 metric tonnes was calculated of nuclear energy= 103,667,970 pounds
- 1 metric tonnes= 2,204 pounds
- 105,793 GW-days of thermal energy have been produced by nuclear energy


Recycling Nuclear Waste
- IS recyclable and if treated can be put into the reactors again (can be reused several times)
- By this process once ALL of the energy is extracted from the fuel and it can no longer be used it is left to decay but harmlessly(no radiation) decays in a shorter time (couple hundred years) as compared to the original few million
- 2 types of Uranium isotopes present in nuclear waste U-235 used for fuel and U-238 basically useless
- For recycling purposes when the U-235 runs low it must be replaced even though there is still another Uranium isotope within the waste
- In USA Yucca Mountain is the place for recycling nuclear waste

The Yucca Tunnel is in Nevada and is a storage center for nuclear waste.
Interior of the Yucca Tunnel

What Is Currently Being Done About Nuclear Waste?

-Nuclear waste is a big fear among many people, as it is very hazardous to our environment, and ourselves if we are exposed to it. But

it should be known that there is action being taken in order to prevent anyone from being harmed by nuclear waste, preventing the

environment from getting harmed, and also hoping that these plans will remain and stay strong within the future so that nuclear waste can

always be properly disposed of and hopefully reduced within the environment.

  • National Defense Council- this organization is a key factor when it comes to forming ways in the U.S. to maintain nuclear waste and establish

    some environmental policies that will help to aid us in the proper disposal of nuclear waste, in a way which we won't be harmed.


    *They also look to reduce the many risks that are extremely dangerous and very unacceptable to be exposed to humans and the environment.

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Links that may interest you!

"Google Images." Google. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
"Nuclear Waste Storage." The Bane of Nuclear Waste. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.
Touran, Nick. "What Is Nuclear? / Nuclear Waste." What Is Nuclear? / Public Education about Nuclear Energy. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.
Wald, Matthew L. "Fission, Fusion and Nuclear Waste - NYTimes.com." Energy and Environment - Green Blog - NYTimes.com. 9 Dec. 2008. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.
"What Is Radioactivity?" Nuclear Waste. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.
"Yucca Mountain Still On The Table?" Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition. 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2011
"Google Images." Google. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http:3.bp.blogspot.com/_qGSiMLu6NXM/TPoPGqpUgrI/AAAAAAAAC6o/tWIy6nSHR3M/s400/NRDC+Logo.gif>.
"Google Images."
Google. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http:3.bp.blogspot.com/_qGSiMLu6NXM/TPoPGqpUgrI/AAAAAAAAC6o/tWIy6nSHR3M/s400/NRDC+Logo.gif>.
West, Larry. "Nuclear Waste Disposal - EPA Poised to Regulate Nuclear Waste Disposal for a Million Years." Environmental Issues - News and Information about the Environment. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. <http://environment.about.com/od/nuclearenergywaste/a/nuclear_waste.htm>.