Nuclear energy is a powerful source of electricity. However, after the use of nuclear fuel, nuclear waste is unfortunately left behind. Nuclear waste releases radiation, which can be a major human-health and environmental hazard. As a result, it is necessary to have nuclear waste stored in a manner that ensures that the waste will be less of a hazard.
Used nuclear fuel is stored in pools that are filled with water. Another option is to have the nuclear waste stored in air-tight canisters made from steel or steel and concrete. Water serves as a natural and effective barrier for radiation. Water is also ideal for storing radioactive waste because it naturally cools the waste product. If you do not own or have access to a nuclear-waste storage facility, there are repositories that are used for storing nuclear waste and other materials that are highly radioactive.
For radioactive waste to be stored for the long term, it is necessary to for it to be stabilized in a form that will not react or degrade. This is done using one of several methods, including:
- Ion exchange
Some of these methods are more sophisticated, and some are also more theoretical in nature. Ion exchange is the most commonly used method. The purpose is to convert the nuclear waste into a smaller form that is easier to store.
Long-Term Storage of Waste
The containers are stored either near the surface or through deep geological disposal. Some countries have an official policy in which they use one method of disposal or the other. The near-surface disposal method takes place either on or near the surface. Some disposal methods use engineered barriers, while others do not. The requirements for whether there must be engineered barriers or not depends on the nation in question.
The challenge of near-surface nuclear waste storage is that there is an obligation for future generations to maintain these facilities. In contrast, deep geological disposal methods do not require that future generations maintain these storage facilities. Instead, the engineered and natural barriers will be sufficient.
Protection from Nuclear-Waste Exposure
If you will be exposed to nuclear radiation, it is important that you have a sufficient amount of protection in the form of nuclear shielding. The amount of protection that is necessary depends on the type of radiation you will be exposed to, the quantity, and for however long.