Radioactive Waste Concerns

Although much progress has been made on the technical issues associated with waste disposal, the public has considerable concerns over the issues of waste management and the management of spent nuclear fuel (Ryhanen, 1996). As a consequence, these concerns are still some of the important reasons put forward against the building of new power plants and the sustainability of nuclear energy. Perhaps the major concerns of the public relate to the legacy of long-term radioactive waste and our obligations to future generations.

Research carried out by Duncan (2003) for the UK, Switzerland and Japan indicates that when considering the environment and family about 60% of the populations sampled considered timescales of 50 years or less and about 85% selected 100 years or less. These are much shorter timescales than are required for the isolation of hazardous wastes before their radiotoxicity is reduced, as illustrated in Figure 2.7.

The issues and status of present day approaches to waste management are considered in detail in Chapter 6.

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