Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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28 Jun 2006

A Fool’s Legacy.

wasteAs part of preparing for last night’s talk I gave for Totnes Greenpeace, I was reading about nuclear waste storage, and something struck me very forcibly. We are looking at a waste heap of highly radioactive waste in the world at this point, generated by the world’s 440 reactors, of around 150,000 tons. That’s 150,000 tons of waste that needs constant monitoring and cooling and a lot of hi tech supervision.

If we had to use nuclear power to replace all power generation done by fossil fuels, we would require 12,000 reactors, which would generate 4,500,000 tons of waste. This won’t happen, for a number of reasons, but what struck me more was the time frame required in terms of storage. In order to become relatively safe, it needs to be stored for 100,000 years. I have looked at that figure many times and thought “hmmm, yes, 100,000 years, without really taking it on. How long is 100,000 years? What was happening here 100,000 years ago?

henge100,000 years is a very, very long time. Longer probably than we can even conceive. As Paul Mobbs writes, “the problem is that human society’s oldest monuments are only a few thousand years old, and these are just heaps of stone

Categories: General

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James Taylor
28 Jun 7:46am

This is exactly the sort of thing that haunts me about nuclear power. It was disturbing to read the other day that George Monbiot seems to have joined the nuclear power or climate change camp:

Does anyone else have confirmation of that? Only recently in the Guardian he was pressing teh case for energy conservation – has he given up on us already now?

28 Jun 12:09pm

Does anybody in the world have a permanent solution to the waste problem. I’m thinking even science fiction ideas here, such as shooting it into the sun. Surely one day we will have to create other options for the waste we currently have, let alone any additions.

David Johnson
28 Jun 8:26pm

People might be interested in Joanna Macy’s Nuclear Guardianship scheme –

James Taylor
13 Jul 8:22am

In case anyone cares, George Monbioit has recently stated his position vis a vis Nuclear power again. He’s against it: