Essay on Nuclear Waste Disposal

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Nuclear Waste Disposal

For over the last half century, the production and exploit of nuclear technology has spread into many areas of the current modern society and affects each individual in one way or another. Nuclear technology has become relevant in areas of the advancement of energy production, national defense, and also the medicinal field as well. But, along with the use of nuclear technology comes an added burden: nuclear waste. As defined, “Nuclear waste is the type of waste that results from the use and production of nuclear materials. As nuclear materials are produced and use up, one by-product of the process is a large amount of dangerous chemical elements.” In short, nuclear wastes are generated from spent nuclear
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But as of July 2004, a federal appellate court has ruled in favor of environmental groups and the state of Nevada finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally issued inadequate environmental and public health standards for the proposed Yucca Mountain site. The state of Nevada and other groups have asked the court to require EPA to revise its environmental and health standards for the site which have “sent the EPA back to the drawing board.” Efforts to utilize Yucca Mountain as a set site will probably take a few more years.

Besides efforts of bury the waste in Yucca Mountain, other ideas to dispose the waste are being under consideration. The first of which is the mixed oxide (MOX) fuel burning method which is done by mixing plutonium with uranium and producing a slightly different fuel which is done in order to burn up the plutonium by nuclear fission. The result of this allows for more of the initial plutonium to be used as an energy source and creates excess plutonium which is far less dangerous to the environment and global community than the initial plutonium. Even though this method still doesn’t get rid of the total nuclear waste, it allows for a reduction in the amount of plutonium and be in a form that is easier to dispose of.

Another projected disposal method is the vitrification method. This method involves the “mixing of weapons-grade plutonium with radioactive waste from civilian reactors and placing this mixture
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