Nuclear Waste and the Myth of Settled Science on Climate Change
Let’s consider, shall we, a scientific parallel between high level radioactive waste disposal and global warming. Oh, yes, forgive….Climate Change.
Since the advent of nuclear power generation, a comparatively infantile concept in human scientific terms dating only to the 1950’s, storage of high level radioactive waste that is the byproduct of modern fission reactors remains in interim phase, with spent fuel rods and other highly radioactive components largely warehoused in heavy water cooling towers at nuclear power facilities, ala, Fukushima, Japan. (Clearly, based on that single example, a dubious arrangement fraught with limitless danger.)
Despite obvious and tremendous risk, this practice continues because by and large, the scientific community is not yet confident and certainly not in unanimity on the long term accuracy of their data regarding the design of ‘safe’ disposal facilities, the materials best used, locations most suitable, or even of the long term predictions regarding the stable decay of nuclide elements with half-life decay parameters in the million year range.
Some physicists suggest deep underground caverns of solid granite bedrock would be best. Others argue that inherent cracks and fissures make granite prone to water infiltration and hence, a poor choice for radioactive disposal. Others believe lining disposal chambers with a soft, pliable material like copper, bentonite clay or even salt crystals would create a more stable and less water permeable alternative.
Most agree that predicting anything about high level radioactive storage integrity 250 or 500,000 years into the future is a fool’s errand, given that humans living on the surface can’t even seem to keep track of conventional landfills, graveyards, or toxic waste dump sites lurking just feet beneath the topsoil.
Nothing is settled, debate continues and so, no one has rushed to do anything regarding the disposal issue until they are absolutely sure of the accuracy of their conclusions. The argument as they state it, is, (and quite reasonably, I might add:) Humanity simply cannot afford to be wrong.