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Nuclear Waste Essay

1855 words - 7 pages

What are the main issues surrounding nuclear waste?-types of nuclear waste (page66)EcosystemEffects of nuclear radiations-problems of disposalChernovil 1936To answer to this question first I am going to give a definition of nuclear waste:Nuclear waste its knows as any waste that results from using radioactive materials for purposes that include electricity production by nuclear power plants, defence activities and nuclear weapons manufacture, medical treatment, nuclear research, industrial processes, and mining and milling of uranium. It occurs when unstable nuclei of atoms decay and emit particles. These particles may have high energy and can have bad effects on living tissue.There are many types of radiation:* Alpha Decay: The reason alpha decay occurs is because the nucleus has too many protons which cause excessive repulsion. In an attempt to reduce the repulsion, a Helium nucleus is emitted. The way it works is that the Helium nuclei are in constant collision with the walls of the nucleus and because of its energy and mass; there exists a nonzero probability of transmission.* Beta Decay: occurs when the neutron to proton ratio is too great in the nucleus and causes instability. In basic beta decay, a neutron is turned into a proton and an electron. The electron is then emitted.* Gamma Decay: occurs because the nucleus is at too high an energy. The nucleus falls down to a lower energy state and, in the process, emits a high energy photon known as a gamma particle.Radioactive waste is divided into three main types, classified according to their activity, their heat generation potential, and what they physically contain. These three main levels are low level waste (LLW), transuranic waste (TRU), and high level waste (HLW).Low-Level WasteLow-level waste (LLW) is a term used to describe nuclear waste that does not fit into the categorical definitions for high-level waste (HLW), spent nuclear fuel (SNF), transuranic waste (TRU), or certain byproduct materials known as 11e (2) wastes, such as uranium mill tailings. In essence, it is a definition by exclusion, and LLW is that category of radioactive wastes that do not fit into the other categories. If LLW is mixed with hazardous wastes, then it has a special status as Mixed Low-Level Waste (MLLW) and must satisfy treatment, storage, and disposal regulations both as LLW and as hazardous waste. While the bulk of LLW is not highly radioactive, the definition of LLW does not include references to its activity, and some LLW may be quite radioactive, as in the case of radioactive sources used in industry and medicine.High-level wasteHigh-Level Waste is the actual spent fuel, or the residual waste from reprocessing spent fuel. The U.S. does not reprocess its spent fuel. Therefore, all the highly radioactive isotopes remain within it, and the whole fuel assemblies are treated as high level waste. The disadvantage of this "once-through" fuel cycle is that partially used nuclear fuel is treated as waste,...

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