Nuclear Waste Risk Governance

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:50
Oral Presentation
The management of nuclear waste is a big problem for even the most technologically advanced societies. The risk associated with the nuclear waste is the inherent radioactivity of the waste itself which makes it practically impossible to keep it isolated and to prevent it from contaminating the ecosystem of the surroundings by exposing it to dangerous radiation. This is due to the extraordinarily long half-life of the radioactive elements which are part of the waste. Half-life of an element is a measure of the time in which its radioactivity is reduced by 50%.

There is no extant technology on the planet that can safely dispose of the nuclear waste generated. This scientific fact should be made known to all the stakeholders involved. Even the most technologically advanced societies are at a loss when it comes to finding a safe way to dispose nuclear waste. One of the effective ways to dispose it till date has been burying the waste deep under the surface of the earth. This may prevent the surrounding ecosystem from getting contaminated for the time being, but this disposal method has its limitations. One of the factors to be taken into account is the fault lines in the earth’s crust which often lead to earthquakes. Such events may cause the sealed vaults of nuclear wastes to rupture, thus, endangering the surrounding ecosystem.

Nuclear waste is generated primarily as a result of electricity generation in nuclear reactors. Nuclear energy is projected as a cleaner alternative to the fossil fuels for electricity generation by policy makers. It is highly imperative for the policy makers to communicate the risk of nuclear waste and the associated problems of nuclear waste management to the general public before pursuing the path of electricity generation by utilizing nuclear energy.