54 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. God bless ’em.

    Another report claiming how wonderful all these other technologies are. Well, if they’re so great, why don’t we just open up the market to all comers at let the best technology win?

    Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant.

    U-235 is your friend

  2. Dogz Says:

    Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant.

    I believe that this quote comes from John McCarthy, ex-Comp Sci professor at Stanford, who, like you, possesses no relevant experience or qualifications.

    But to be fair to McCarthy, what he actually said was:

    Q. What about the waste from so many reactors?

    A. If the fuel rods are reprocessed, and I think they will be, then each reactor produces about one cubic meter of waste per year.

    And also:

    A large reactor produces about 1.5 tonnes of fission products per year. The fission products are originally in a mixture with other substances, so reprocessing is required to get it down to a 1.5 tonnes.

    Get that, Dogz? In a mixture with other substances.

    Doesn’t that cause any alarm bells to go off for a self-proclaimed “scientist” such as yourself?

    Here’s a hint. Contaminated waste. McCarthy is only claiming that the contaminants are one cubic metre.

    You and he are relying on some magical “reprocessing” which will decontanimate the contanimated waste.

  3. SJ, reprocessing is standard practice. Nothing “magical” about it. But even without reprocessing, what’s the volume of waste?

    How many serious contamination accidents are there per annum in Europe and Japan, both big users of nuclear energy? How does that compare to the impending environmental disaster we face with global warming (on your reckoning, that is)?

  4. By that sort of logic, why don’t you embrace renewable energy on the grounds that it produces no waste at all, as well as preventing ‘global warming doom’?

  5. because I’ve yet to see a study of renewable energy that shows it can satisfy our current and projected energy requirements cost-effectively

  6. Dogz Says:

    SJ, reprocessing is standard practice.

    Yeah, yeah, whatever.

    In March 1977, fear of nuclear weapons proliferation (especially after India demonstrated nuclear weapons capabilities using reprocessing technology) led President Jimmy Carter to issue a Presidential directive to indefinitely suspend the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in the U.S. Other nations did not copy the policy and continued to reprocess spent nuclear fuel…

    The relative economics of reprocessing-waste disposal and interim storage-direct disposal has been the focus of much debate over the past ten years. Many approaches have been used and to a certain extent the approach taken has determined the outcome of the assessment. These studies model the total fuel cycle costs of a reprocessing-recycling system based on thermal recycling of plutonium and compare this to the total costs of an open fuel cycle with direct disposal. The range of results produced by these studies is very wide, but all are agreed that under current (2005) economic conditions the reprocessing-recycle option is the more costly.

    Dogz Says:

    But even without reprocessing, what’s the volume of waste?

    Look it up, and get back to us.

  7. A point of clarification to the above. The reason why reprocessing was carried out by the other nations was to extract bomb material. The U.S. had a separate program for bomb making, so it wasn’t affected by its own ban.

  8. Japan sends material to Europe for reprocessing, but not into bomb material (or at least they used to).

  9. Japan sends material to Europe for reprocessing, but not into bomb material (or at least they used to).

    OK, so what is the volume of waste produced by a Japanese reactor? Is it one cubic metre per year after reprocessing?

  10. “About 25 tonnes of spent fuel is taken each year from the core of a l000 MWe nuclear reactor. The spent fuel can be regarded entirely as waste (as, for 40% of the world¹s output, in USA and Canada), or it can be reprocessed (as in Europe [and Japan]). Whichever option is chosen, the spent fuel is first stored for several years under water in large cooling ponds at the reactor site. The concrete ponds and the water in them provide radiation protection, while removing the heat generated during radioactive decay.”

    “The 3% of the spent fuel which is separated high-level wastes amounts to 700 kg per year and it needs to be isolated from the environment for a very long time. These liquid wastes are stored in stainless steel tanks inside concrete cells until they are solidified.”

    “Solidification processes have been developed in France, UK, US and Germany over the past 35 years. Liquid high-level wastes are evaporated, mixed with glass-forming materials, melted and poured into robust stainless steel canisters which are then sealed by welding.”

    “The vitrified waste from the operation of a 1000 MWe reactor for one year would fill about twelve canisters, each 1.3m high and 0.4m diameter and holding 400 kg of glass.”

    So there’s your answer: pi * 0.2 * 0.2 * 1.3 * 12 ~ 2 cubic meters of crap from a 1000MW reactor running for one year. Nifty.

  11. You didn’t provide a cite for your quote, but I suppose it comes from here:

    The annual fuel requirement for a l000 MWe light water reactor is about 25 tonnes of enriched uranium oxide. This requires the mining and milling of some 50,000 tonnes of ore to provide 200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (U3O8) from the mine.

    I’ll let you work out the pi r squared on the 50,000 tons.

  12. Because that’s the (US) legal definition.

    Although not significantly radioactive, uranium mill tailings are waste. They are byproduct material from the rough processing of uranium-bearing ore. They are sometimes referred to as 11(e)2 wastes, from the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that defines them.

  13. Dear me SJ, you are clutching at straws. Natural uranium is taken out of the ground and the stuff left over (now less radioactive than it was as the uranium has been largely extracted) is considered dangerous waste? I hope I have misundestood you.

  14. Natural uranium is taken out of the ground and the stuff left over (now less radioactive than it was as the uranium has been largely extracted) is considered dangerous waste?

    Firstly, it isn’t a matter of digging up uranium mixed with harmless stuff, taking out the uranium and putting the harmless stuff back.

    The uranium is mixed with the products of uranium decay, i.e. thorium, radium, radon, polonium, etc. These aren’t considered useful, so they get left behind.

    The tailings are radioactive, and are considered dangerous.

    See here:

    Uranium Mill Tailings

    Uranium mill tailings are the residual waste from the process of uranium extraction from the uranium ore. Since only uranium is extracted, all other members of the uranium decay chains remain in the tailings at their original activities. In addition, small residual amounts of uranium are left in the tailings, depending on the efficiency of the extraction process used…

    Compared to uranium ore, the alpha radiation of uranium mill tailings and thus the radiation hazard on ingestion or inhalation of tailings (dust) is approx. 25% lower, while the hazard from radon is unchanged. The external radiation hazard from gamma radiation remains nearly unchanged, while that from beta radiation is reduced.

  15. The tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself, which we happily dig up today. I dare say there are plenty of other industrial/mining processes that are at least as hazardous.

  16. So you happily concede that your original claim: Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant was complete rubbish?

  17. So you happily concede that your original claim: Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant was complete rubbish?

    Yes. I was out by a factor of two. It’s 2 cubic meters.

  18. No, you don’t get to claim that the 50,000 tons of low level radioactive waste isn’t radioactive waste somehow. It may be that in your completely ignorant opinion that it doesn’t count, because it’s no more hazardous than some other hazardous thing that you can’t even think of. That opinion, however, don’t count for much.

    You’re also wishing away the 24 tons per annum of medium level waste from the spent fuel, and the tens of thousands of tons of medium level waste left after the thing is decommissioned.

  19. I shouldn’t leave this unremarked, either.

    Dogz Says:

    The tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself, which we happily dig up today.

    It’s true that the tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself. But the ore itself is dangerous. It’s pointless to argue otherwise.

  20. SJ, your original question was: “OK, so what is the volume of waste produced by a Japanese reactor? Is it one cubic metre per year after reprocessing?

    The answer turned out to be not one but two cubic meters, although that is only because the waste is embedded into a large volume of glass.

    We were clearly talking about high-level waste. That’s the stuff that gets reprocessed.

    I suggest you start here for a discussion of how all levels of nuclear waste are dealt with safely.

  21. We were clearly talking about high-level waste.

    It isn’t what you actually said, though. And given your demonstrated level of understanding of the issues, I seriously doubt whether you had anything clearly in mind.

    Here’s what you should have said:

    Hard to beat 2 cubic metres of incredibly dangerous high level waste, 24 tons of dangerous medium level waste, and 50,000 tons of dangerous low level waste per year per plant, plus a few tens of thousands of tons of dangerous medium level waste left over when the plant is shut down.

    BTW, the page you linked to makes this outrageous assertion: “Mine tailings:… Strictly speaking these are not classified as radioactive wastes.”

    The author must be strictly speaking about some classification system that doesn’t doesn’t apply here in the real world. In addition to the U.S. Atomic Energy Act referred to above, Australia’s Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Management in Mining and Mineral Processing Code of Practice and Safety Guide clearly treats it as radioactive waste:

    1.4 SCOPE

    1.4.1 The Code addresses the regulatory and organisational aspects for the control of occupational and public radiation exposures in the mining and mineral processing industries, and for the management of radioactive waste generated in those industries. It describes the system of radiation protection to be applied in operations of the mining and mineral processing industries, and to waste generated by them, and identifies the roles of the various stakeholders.

    1.4.2 Radioactive waste will most usually arise from the mining and processing of uranium and thorium ores, and of mineral sands. However, the Code may also be applicable to the mining and processing of other materials where the wastes arising from these operations require management because the radionuclides they contain may cause harm to humans or to the environment…

    2.3 APPLICATION

    2.3.1 The provisions of this Code apply to the mining and processing of ores for the production of uranium or thorium concentrates, and the separation of heavy minerals from mineral sands ore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s