Friday, March 07, 2014
The cultural fear of nuclear waste is so deep that even a minor incident can spark calls for removing a storage facility from an area. The nuclear industry has a public relations problem that it never has really solved and probably won't. It is a NIMBY business in which there are no safe places to store waste because it is always too close to someone's backyard. Yet, it has fission products with half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years. It has to store this material somewhere, and even if no more nukes are built, there is enough spent uranium in ponds through the US and elsewhere to create a disposal nightmare. It seems that most of society would prefer not to think about it -- as long as it doesn't come here. Sooner or later, the government must confront the problem head-on and by time that happens, there is a good chance of leakage into soils and more serious problems. The legacy of fear is buried deeply in the psyche of citizens and there is no answer for it.