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Well, yes, except

Depending on how countries classify waste, only about 0.2–3% by volume is high-level waste, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a London-based industry group that promotes nuclear power.

Mostly derived from civil reactor fuel, this is some of the most dangerous material known on Earth, remaining radioactive for tens of thousands of years. It requires cooling and shielding indefinitely and contains 95% of the radioactivity related to nuclear power generation.

Well, no, not really.

But the idea was boosted in December 2018 by French Nobel prize–winning physicist Gérard Mourou, who, in his acceptance lecture, said laser beams millions of times brighter than the surface of the sun in bursts that last a millionth of a billionth of a second had the potential to neutralise nuclear waste, reducing its half-life to a few years and its radioactivity to very little.

Largely speaking and not wholly and exactly the higher the radiation danger now the shorter the period of time for which it is dangerous. And vice versa. The not wholly is because plutonium is nastily poisonous without radioactivity etc. Thorium poses heavy metal poisoning dangers rather greater than its radioactivity etc.

12 thoughts on “Well, yes, except”

  1. 22,000 m³ is the size a fairly small unit on an industrial park. Jerry Pournell had the disposal solution sorted back in the 70s. Stack it up in a desert somewhere encased in glass blocks. Put a fence round it with a sign on “Cross This Fence And You Will Die!” Job done.

  2. It’s rank stupidity when they come out with stuff like that. Tellurium-128 has a half-life of 2.2 septillion years. Just think how dangerous all those CD-RWs must be!

  3. I presume we can get these laser beams from the local Radio Shack, and power them with unicorn farts?

  4. “The idea is to transmute this nuclear waste into new forms of atoms which don’t have the problem of radioactivity. What you have to do is to change the makeup of the nucleus,” he said in the lecture.”
    Of course, that’s how the nuclear reactions release the energy runs power stations, in first place. So it depends which direction you’re going to kick the atoms. Either you kick them in the direction releases more energy from the atomic structure. You fission heavier atoms down to lighter until you get to an isotope that’s stable. In which case you’ve just got yourself an additional source of energy. Clever. Or you kick them in the other direction, takes equal energy to what you got out of the nuclear power plant produced the radioactive waste. But it will be one thing or t’other.

  5. Or you could just add the high level waste into a molten-salt-thorium reactor, and have the fission process transmute it to harmless, all as a byproduct of generating power.
    It’s the tranuranics that are the nasty stuff.

    But no need for the mega-expensive Flash Gordon lasers.

  6. “It’s the tranuranics that are the nasty stuff.”
    I gather it’s the lighter elements’ isotopes with short half-lives are problematic. They’re the ones, if they get into the environment, can be taken up by biological systems don’t care which particular isotope of an element their using.
    But you’re right. A good long soaking in a neutron bath is a good way to shorten half lives..

  7. BiS–” All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available: Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel. Sapphire and Steel have been assigned.”

    Jet, Diamond, Sapphire and Steel are of course not elements but that is the level you can expect from writers–still way above Greenfreaks.

    Recycling Nuke waste has long been proposed–see the attached.

    The female is not too shabby either–for a scientist.

  8. I though Pu’s toxicity was precisely because of its radioactivity – the body absorbs it easily and it’s an alpha emitter. The alphas do a lot of damage because they deposit their large energy over a short range (<1mm in flesh?)

  9. Alpha emitters aren’t too dangerous on the outside: wrap yourself in newspapers (if they still exist) – it doesn’t need much to stop alphas. But if you breathe them in your lungs are unprotected.

  10. @bis at 8:25 am

    Desert in USA probably best location – or Antarctic. For ours: Rockall

    at 10:43 am

    Yep. Hence iodine pills so iodine-r not taken up.

    @dearieme August 1, 2019 at 11:06 am

    ROFL – Good idea “Warning – Come within 20′ of this wall and you might die”

    @Mr Ecks

    Good vid, thanks


    Simplistic, but agree – alpha once in mostly stays in; gamma (x-rays) passes through leaving a bit; beta in between.



    I find the radioactive scaremongering annoying & frustrating as it demonstrates lack of knowledge – most don’t even know fission/fusion difference inc BBC drama (& BBC Docu on methanol/ethanol drinking), inert Lead & Mercury are dangerous to health too.

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