Nuclear waste is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest problems. Earth’s growing stockpile of radioactive waste is troublesome, because these chemicals remain in their radioactive state for several millennia — and we have yet to come up with a foolproof storage solution.
A new study explored facilities that store nuclear waste in seven locations around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, Britain, Finland and Sweden. Officials discovered that the majority of nuclear waste lacked proper defense mechanisms, like secondary protocols, and are vulnerable to failing in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.
Storage of nuclear waste is one of the biggest obstacles facing nuclear power plants. It was once thought that deep underground was a good storage option, but that is not the case. According to Greenpeace, all of the storage facilities in the study showed some percentage of radiation leaks, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment.
“More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes,” Shaun Burnie, who works with Greenpeace Germany and led the new study, explained.
Even worse, some storage facilities are located in areas prone to natural disasters. For example, the U.S. is in the process of building a major nuclear waste site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain range, which features seismic and volcanic activity, hardly suitable for keeping radioactive waste safe.
The building of the Yucca Mountain facility was placed on hold by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Donald Trump, however, has expressed interest in reviving the construction and finishing the site before his term is up.
As if that is not bad enough, governments are seemingly turning a blind eye to public concerns. The nuclear waste report comes after it was revealed that the U.S. government secretly moved weapons-grade plutonium across several states, despite passionate opposition from politicians in South Carolina.
If scientists do not come up with a better method of disposing of nuclear waste, then it really could become the next global crisis. Fortunately, countries are exploring alternative renewable sources for energy that do not result in radioactive waste and are healthier for the environment.
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