Nuclear waste disposal in Australia
- Friday 8 March 2013 5:05PM
- Terry Krieg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
IMAGE: A FACILITY IN AUSTRALIA TO DISPOSE OF NUCLEAR WASTE COULD CREATE 20,000 INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT JOBS, 2,500 OPERATIONAL JOBS AND GENERATE $2.3 BILLION PER YEAR IN TAXES AND ROYALTIES, ACCORDING TO ACCESS ECONOMICS.(SPL CREATIVE)
A member of the Australian Nuclear Forum, Terry Krieg, presents the other side to the nuclear waste argument. He believes there are great opportunities—economic and environmental—for Australia if we were to become world leaders in the removal and safe burial of nuclear waste.
Now, how is the waste handled? Since the beginning in the late ‘50s on exit from the reactor the spent fuel rods (the waste) are suspended in cooling ponds under several metres of water. I inspected such ponds in 1981 while visiting the Pickering nuclear power station in Toronto, Canada. The fuel assemblies remain in the ponds for three years by which time their radiation levels have reduced to about 1 per cent of the level on exit from the reactor. They are then placed in above-ground cool air storage where they remain for about 30 years, by which time they are suitable for deep burial in a suitable site.
Current storage is achieved safely on site where the power is generated, unlike waste from coal power with millions of tonnes of solids which have to be dumped and the millions of tonnes of CO2 which are dumped mostly in the atmosphere. Since the early 1960s high-level nuclear materials have been moved through cities, across the countryside and over oceans with never an accident which leaked nuclear materials into the environment.
Sound like familiar drivel?