ActivismEconomyGovernmentMilitarySocial IssuesUS PoliticsWorld Politics

Dumping of Nuclear and Radioactive Waste In the Oceans

Updated on December 19, 2015

Joined: 6 years agoFollowers: 500Articles: 112
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

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ashumann profile image

      ashumann 5 years ago from Dhaka

      fine...I support your logic

    Click to Rate This Article