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The science of nuclear energy
The science of nuclear energy

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2.3.4 What can be done with nuclear waste?

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Figure 17

The Dounreay video mentioned that the radioactive waste would need to be stored ‘forever’. Forever is a long time!

Let’s recap what is known about nuclear waste:

  • The production of radioactive materials is intrinsic to the process of fission so all nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste. The reactors you’ve heard about so far produced thousands of tonnes of waste.
  • The waste can be classified into different levels.
  • Some of the waste is very active now. Some of the waste has a long half-life indicating it will be active for many thousands of years.

Activity 3

You may have your own thoughts on the issue of nuclear waste and about what happens in your own country.

Think about these questions:

  • What would you do with nuclear waste?
  • Do you know the nuclear waste disposal policy in your country? For example, read about the UK Government’s policy on radioactive waste.
  • What do you think of your country’s policies?

In the next section, you’ll find out about some possible solutions.