Dumping of Nuclear and Radioactive Waste In the Oceans

Updated on December 19, 2015
Steel storage containers for Nuclear Waste
Steel storage containers for Nuclear Waste | Source

PROs and CONs of Radioactive Waste Storage In The Oceans

PRO's
CON's
It's safer than above ground storage
Bad to fight climate change with nuclear waste storage
Nuclear energy doesn't generate carbon emissions
Proper storage is difficult to find
We have developed better holding and storage containers
Ocean tides can spread radiation all over globe
Far away from human facilities
Costly

Should We Be Disposing Nuclear Waste in the Oceans?

Radioactive Waste in the Ocean

The belief that storing radioactive waste in the depths of the world’s oceans is a foolproof strategy of getting rid of this waste is an extremely flawed idea. Storing radioactive waste in the ocean is harmful to the organisms that inhabit the ocean and to humans as well due to radiation and in addition is a very expensive process. Poor insulation of the containers, leaks, volcanic activity, tectonic plate movement , limited locations, and several other factors – prove that storing radioactive waste in the oceans will only lead to many a catastrophe. (PRO's and CON's of Radioactive Waste in the Oceans)

To begin with, it is a bad idea to store radioactive waste in the ocean because the facilities that hold the waste are sometimes flawed and may contain leaks that may become severe when exposed to such high pressures and this allows radiation to leak out into the oceans, where it can be carried everywhere by currents. For example, Russia’s vast amount of radioactive material is stored in the ocean in very poor containment facilities and these leaks risk being transported to other rivers and parts of the ocean. Over time, little amounts of radiation would accumulate and begin to destroy ecosystems in the ocean and contaminate entire food chains, starting with the abyssal creatures. (PRO's and CON's of Radioactive Waste in the Oceans)

Nuclear Waste Storage Areas In The Atlantic Ocean

Some storage locations in the Atlantic Ocean
Some storage locations in the Atlantic Ocean | Source

Old Storage Locations Declared Unsafe Presently

In addition, volcanic activity is another concern because the radioactive waste cannot be stored somewhere where there is volcanic activity or shifting tectonic plates due to risks of ruptures in the containers from the movement. More recently scientists have discovered that previous sites that the government approved for ocean dumping are now not so safe because the earth is constantly shifting. To solve this problem the government would have to pass legislation and approve new sites for dumping, as well as find a way of removing the containers that are stored in the “now” danger areas. This makes the storage very difficult because there are only a few “safe zones” for storing the waste, but getting to those places makes the transportation process long and very expensive.

Storage of Radioactive Waste in steel containers
Storage of Radioactive Waste in steel containers

United States Policies on Waste Disposal

The United States has not adopted this policy also because it could possibly promote the spread of nuclear weapons. An example of this is when India used this reprocessing technology to make a nuclear explosive in the 1970’s. So the United Stated turned and adopted a policy that basically said, “that we don't reprocess [and] you don't need to either." (Nuclear Waste May Get a Second Life)

If we could overcome the issue of the price of the process and enact a new nuclear policy, this reprocessing idea would be an ideal thing because it would severely cut the life of the nuclear waste, which would make it more manageable, and we would find something to do with the waste. Instead of dumping it in the ocean, we could reuse it.

U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Energy Office Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Office of Nuclear Energy is to advance nuclear power as a resource capable of meeting the Nation's energy, environmental, and national security needs by resolving technical, cost, safety, proliferation resistance, and security barriers through research, development, and demonstration as appropriate.

Yucca Mountain (A large storage center for US nuclear waste)
Yucca Mountain (A large storage center for US nuclear waste)

A Safe Way to Dispose of Waste

Russia is currently the biggest contributor to nuclear waste/radioactive waste dumping in the oceans, but other countries contribute as well. A recent radio broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio) about nuclear waste, suggests a better and smarter way of tackling the problem that is nuclear reactivity. “One option under consideration is a process that would dramatically reduce its radioactive lifetime.” (Increase the speed of radioactive decay) (Nuclear Waste May Get a Second Life) The idea is to extract the plutonium and other elements from the used fuel and reuse it, which would keep the long-lasting radioactive materials out of the oceans and other nuclear waste dumps. The Obama administration is promoting nuclear power, but it has put an end to plans of burying waste in the Yucca Mountain. The process is beneficial because in the reusing process the materials will break down into elements with much shorter radioactive lifetimes and faster radioactive decay, which means less radiation being put out there. But why NOT adopt this technology that could greatly reduce nuclear waste and provide cleaner energy? This process is very expensive. It is much more expensive than starting from scratch with uranium ore. It would only work if the price of uranium went up 10 times. (Nuclear Waste May Get a Second Life)


Storage Container Construct

Typical composition of a storage container
Typical composition of a storage container | Source

Spotlight on Industry

Storing the waste in appropriate storage containers is still better than what TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has been doing.

They have been brought under fire for concealing for an entire year that radioactive waste from the poor cleanup efforts at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has slowly been leaking into the ocean from a drainage ditch. They now have a plan for decommissioning the FUkishima Faiichi nuclear power plant including building robots to handle, "the operations, such as the decontamination of the high-dose radiation area and the removal of fuel debris, and contributed to the reduction of operational risk of radiation exposure." (TEPCO)

Storage and Leak Areas

All areas with a small icon next to them have had radiation exposure/leaks/storage areas
All areas with a small icon next to them have had radiation exposure/leaks/storage areas

Conclusion

We should not be dumping radioactive waste into the oceans. It causes harm to aquatic life and terrestrial life by radiation. Storing radioactive waste in the ocean is harmful to the organisms that inhabit the ocean and to humans as well, and in addition is a very costly process to perform. Poor insulation of the containers, leaks, volcanic activity, tectonic plate movement, limited locations, and several other factors – confirm that storing radioactive waste in the oceans will only lead to catastrophes and health problems due to radiation. (PRO's and CON's of Radioactive Waste in the Oceans)

Practices in Ontario

Work's Cited

Pro and Con." PRO's and CON's of Radioactive Waste in the Oceans. Web. 08 Apr. 2010.

"Nuclear Waste May Get A Second Life : NPR." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR . Web. 10 Apr. 2010.

TEPCO http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

        Ashutosh Joshi 

        17 months ago from New Delhi, India

        This is a disturbing thought that eventually these containers would leak. It all makes sense, considering what's happening at Fukushima currently may not be making too many headlines acroos the globe but it is surely ringing the warning bells...pretty loud n clear.

      • ashumann profile image

        ashumann 

        7 years ago from Dhaka

        fine...I support your logic

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)