Nuclear Waste Management

What is a Radioactive Waste?

Waste that has radioactive material (material with the emission of radiation) will fall under radioactive or nuclear waste. The radiation emitting material is extremely hazardous for living organisms and they also affect environments. Some kind of nuclear materials has mutating abilities which are carried over. Similarly, the waste nuclear material can present similar effects.

Owing to their far-reaching ability over time, the methods adopted to dispose of radioactive waste is very different from other solid waste management and  Nuclear waste management methods.

If it is so dangerous, why do we use it? Initially, radioactive material was considered extremely useful because of its energy generating nature. It was considered, at the time, to be a good replacement for fuel. It was later that the drastic ill effect came to be known. Nuclear power, if equipped well, has the potential to produce a tremendous amount of energy in the most economical ways. The only concern here is the disposal of the waste without harming the environment or its inhabitants. Fortunately, this is the only industry that takes full responsibility for the disposal of its wastes and actually invests in effectively doing so.

The good news and the bad news about nuclear waste:

The good news is harmful effects of radioactive wastes diminish over time depending on the waste type and the radioactive isotope. If isolated and stored properly for the required time, the ill effects diminish eventually.

Clearly, there’s some bad news here. The only known ways to dispose of nuclear waste is to bury the contained waste in uninhabited areas deep within the ground or in oceans floor. For high energy level waste, transmutation of a radioactive isotope is performed.

With the isolation of radioactive waste in appropriate disposal facilities for sufficient amounts of time, the waste is no longer treated. However, the issue is under constant discussion and investigation, therefore, the waste generation amounts and its management is periodically reviewed by bodies like International Atomic Energy Agency, Joint Convention on Safety of Spent on the Fuel Management and also Safety of the Radioactive Waste Management.

Practise This Question

Bholu's neighbour doctor asked him to drink boiled and cooled water for few days. Bholu instinctively asked "Why?". The doctor replied, "Prevention is better than cure". Help Bholu to understand the meaning of this phrase.