Subject: Re: nuclear waste Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003


Dear Masterp,

You have asked a very important question, and asked it in a particularly incisive way. All sources of energy have their advantages and disadvantages - we must compare them and choose among them on the balance of their relative merits. To get rid of waste is always a problem. So let me compare the waste disposal problems of nuclear power and conventional power obtained by burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas. Nuclear fuel provides a lot of energy for its size - a million times more. That is "burning" one gram of uranium provides as much energy as burning one ton of coal. The waste products are likewise a million times smaller - one gram of nuclear waste versus 3.6 tons of CO2 (when you burn coal, it is combines with oxygen and the product weighs more, in fact 3.6 times more.) Nuclear waste is compact - one gram - and confined inside the reactor until the fuel element must be replaced. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is just dispersed (dumped) into the atmosphere where it adds to the already existing CO2 to increase the greenhouse effect, which may be a cause of global warming. A ton of coal also has some impurities - a few parts per million - a few grams - like uranium, lead, mercury and other heavy metals - these too are just scattered about. If they enter the body, they can be poisonous. Coal also has a big sulfur content - when it is burned we get sulfur dioxide which is the cause of acid rain. Nuclear waste is radioactive, that means it decays in time and eventually disappears. Some of it disappears faster (short-lilved), some slower (long-lived). (Those heavy metals don't disappear at all.) In practice, we let the nuclear waste decay for a while so that the short-lived material disappears, and then we deposit the long-lived stuff in deep,stable and impervious geological layers from which it will not escape to enter the water supply or to ene\ter into any other contact with the surface where we live. What does all this cost? Well, the cost of nuclear waste disposal is paid by a small tax collected on the nuclear energy generated. That money is already in the bank. The cost of dumping CO2 has never bothered anyone - it just goesup the stack; but eventually we shall have to find ways to deal with it, and that will probably double the cost of fossil electricity. I hope these few remarks help you get some clearer is\deas of the problems of nuclear and other waste.


Best regards Berol

Berol Robinson, 1 rue du General Gouraud, F-92190 Meudon, France

Email berol[at]




Date: 2003/11/18 mar. AM 01:37:24 CET

To: nuc-en[at]

Object: nuclear waste please send me info about how the benefits out weight the risks on nuclear waste or the good and bad things about nuclear waste


Please send me info about how the benefits outweigh the risks of nuclear waste or the good and bad things about nuclear waste