Thousands Protest Plans to transport Radioactive Waste
Thousands protested earlier today against plans to transport high level radioactive waste through their home towns. Approximately 20,000 gathered to demonstrate in towns and cities along the proposed route from the southwestern city of Karlsruhe to the tiny town of Gorleben in the German state of Lower Saxony.
“A spokesperson for the anti-atomic initiative "Ausgestrahlt" said Saturday's protests were a mere prelude to the demonstration planned for November 6 in the town of Dannenberg, where he expected tens of thousands of protestors to participate.”
The World Nuclear Association's definition of high level waste “High-level Waste may be the used fuel itself, or the principal waste from reprocessing this. While only 3% of the volume of all radwaste, it holds 95% of the radioactivity. It contains the highly-radioactive fission products and some heavy elements with long-lived radioactivity. It generates a considerable amount of heat and requires cooling, as well as special shielding during handling and transport. If the used fuel is reprocessed, the separated waste is vitrified by incorporating it into borosilicate (Pyrex) glass which is sealed inside stainless steel canisters for eventual disposal deep underground”.
In related news WNN World Nuclear News announced yesterdaty an agreement between Russia, Ukrane and Slovakia to transport nuclear waste, the agreement enables the continued shipment of Russian fuel through Ukraine to Slovakia's power reactors.
“The agreement was signed on 21 October in the Slovak capital of Bratislava. It was signed by Nikolai Spassky, deputy director general of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom; Olena Mikolaichuk, chairman of the Ukraine state nuclear regulatory committee; and, Martin Hren, Slovakia's secretary of state for economy and construction.”
According to NRC, commercial reprocessing is currently not practiced in the United States, although it has been allowed in the past. However, significant quantities of high-level radioactive waste are produced by the defense reprocessing programs at Department of Energy (DOE), facilities, such as Hanford, Washington, and Savannah River, South Carolina, and by commercial reprocessing operations at West Valley, New York.
These wastes, which are generally managed by DOE, are not regulated by NRC. However they must be included in any high-level radioactive waste disposal plans, along with all high-level waste from spent reactor fuel.
Because of their highly radioactive fission products, high-level waste and spent fuel must be handled and stored with care. Since the only way radioactive waste finally becomes harmless is through decay, which for high-level wastes can take hundreds of thousands of years, the wastes must be stored and finally disposed of in a way that provides adequate protection of the public for a very long time.