28 Jun 2006
A Fool’s Legacy.
As 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?
100,000 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