Курсовая работа: The Disposal Of Nuclear Waste Essay Research

The Disposal Of Nuclear Waste Essay, Research Paper

As we enter the new millenium, the disposal of nuclear waste is a very important factor we must consider for the future generations. Nuclear energy is a very important and dominant as a source of heat energy. It is used to produce steam to drive turbines that generate electricity. Every nuclear plant has its own design, but they each generate heat from nuclear reactors and use this heat to produce steam. The main problem with nuclear energy, however, is the storage and disposal of the waste from the nuclear plants.

Nuclear energy is usually classified as either ‘low level’ radioactive waste or ‘high level’ radioactive waste. Since the level of radioactivity in low level nuclear waste is minimal, the waste includes materials that have come into contact with the radioactive nuclear reactors {e.g. Cooling water pipes} and the materials from radioactive medical procedures {e.g. x-rays}. The decaying period is only 10 to 15 years for the radioactive isotopes. The decaying period in high level nuclear waste is far higher; it can remain radioactive for more than 100 000 years. This waste includes the material from the core of the nuclear reactor itself or nuclear weapons {e.g., uranium, plutonium}. Low level waste is easier to dispose of, whereas high level waste is much more dangerous because of its radioactivity.

Accounting for 95% of all waste produced by nuclear plants, high level waste is not only extremely dangerous to handle, but it’s very difficult to find proper storage sites {which will not allow the waste to spread}. At the present time, nuclear waste is put into steel-lined concrete canisters filled with water and stored near the nuclear plants. However, this method is only temporary and space for this type of storage is limited.

Many possibilities for waste disposal are being explored. Foe example, there would be an extended amount of storage space if the canisters were placed in the inner rock of a mountainous are. The main objection to this is the possibility of seismic activity, rupturing the area and the canisters. Another more practical method of disposal is based on Quaternary history. This study shows which areas have the least seismic activity. ‘The Subductive Waste Disposal Method” has been invented and patented by Jim Baird. It involves the forming of a “high level radioactive waste repository, or storage facility, in a subducting tectonic plate so that the waste will be carried beneath the earth’s crust where it will be diluted and dispersed through the mantle.” This of course will occur in an area with little seismic activity. In using this method, there is no chance of radioactive waste mixing with the water table and it will render eliminated weapons material inaccessible. Once the process is complete, the waste will be beneath 2000 meters of water, 2000 meters of oceanic sediment, and almost 50 kilometers offshore; the Subductive Waste Disposal Method will actually eliminate radioactive waste.

Therefore, the disposal of nuclear waste is still an important issue in the world today, but possibilities to overcome the problem are constantly being explored. Radioactivity has the power to kill, and it has already. Fortunately, new methods have been patented which will not harm the environment and its inhabitants. The only issue that remains is that of cost, but with further exploration this problem can be overcome.

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