Radioactive Nuclear Waste

ecowatch.com

Catalina Rico

Citation:

Brown, Paul. "Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste » EcoWatch." EcoWatch. Climate News Network, 25 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.

http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/25/no-solution-radioactive-nuclear-waste/

Summary:

This opinion piece addressed the increasing seriousness of nuclear waste, which dangerous for nearly 200,000 years. Currently, there is not a safe way to dispose of the nuclear waste forcing the tanks filled with radioactive material to be isolated and guarded. When countries started to work with nuclear energy for electricity production, they thought that the waste could simply be buried. However, this is not the case, and still the issue was put off because of the hopefulness that science would catch up and come with a solution. All forms of solution are in early stages, with the most progressed idea coming from Sweden. There, they are currently placing short-lived waste in granite formations and a planning for the disposal of more dangerous waste. The article also goes into the long-term problems that come with using nuclear energy. Sweden's plan of using granite formations for highly radioactive waste will not happen in the next 30 years. Also, most countries are not fortunate enough to have stable granite formations to place their waste. The idea behind using granite is that once the waste is placed under it, the nuclear waste would be able to be sealed for millions of years, giving it enough time for the material to come back to safe levels. Even though countries are aware of the dangers that the waste has on humans, some still intend on building more harmful generators.

Ethical Issue:

Using nuclear energy is a huge ethical issue. Yes, when using nuclear energy, there is low-carbon emission for high energy out-puts, but does this out weight the dangers the nuclear waste has on humans? Using nuclear energy is a cheap form of energy production that has been used more often and the waste truly a problem. Not only is the waste hazardous to humans, it is also dangerous for other animals and without a doubt can affect other organisms. When thinking about the effects of radioactive waste, we must take into account of all the stakeholders, this includes future generations. Many countries are continuing to use nuclear energy only to leave the problem of disposing of the waste to their children. This is displayed in the cartoon above, where the child is showed the large amount of waste that he will inherit. This is ethically involved because we are consciously choosing to use materials that will be especially harmful for future generations. We must also think of the communities in close proximity to the nuclear generators. What are the health effects of building a generator for the communities and workers?

Position:

Nuclear energy is large part of how society runs today. Before reading this article, I knew that it was radioactive and can be dangerous when is use, however I did not know the waste was so dangerous and that humans a struggling when trying to find a way to dispose of it. After reading the article, I am very much against the continued use of nuclear energy when there is no immediate solution to the waste issue. I do realize, though, that the energy is needed for society, but should not be use until we can properly dispose of it. Knowingly placing future generations in a difficult position with all of our waste is unethical. I would prefer is the use of nuclear energy ceased, but since this issue is so involved, I think we should only keep the needed amount of generators running. This will allow society to keep functioning and the amount of waste will not grow exponentially. If you had the power, how would you approach this situation? Would you stop all use of nuclear energy and allow society to suffer? What policy would you create to lessen the impact but allow society to continue to grow and develop?