When the massive tsunami smacked into Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear power plant was stacked high with more uranium than it was originally designed to hold. . . . the equivalent of almost six years [almost 4,000] of the highly radioactive [spent] uranium fuel rods produced by the plant  . . . stored in deep pools of circulating water built into the highest floor of the Fukushima reactor buildings.

. . . reports Reuters.

The pile-up of used radioactive fuel stored at Fukushima underscores a dilemma that the nuclear power industry has faced in Japan and in the United States for decades: there is no easy answer to the question of where to store radioactive nuclear fuel after it has been used to produce power. In the United States, industry planners had once assumed that spent fuel rods would be moved to the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada. But political opposition in that fast-growing state helped put the plan on hold, meaning spent fuel has largely piled up in on-site cooling ponds.

Just the Vermont Yankee nuclear energy plant alone, reports Christian Parenti at the Nation “has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.”

Increasingly, spent fuel rods — with the half lives of their radioactive elements running into the tens of thousands of years — are finally taking a star turn in the leading role of nuclear risk. For those who advocate nuclear energy as a “bridge” technology to more carbon-free fuel, or as the devil we know, or for those who, with unapologetic counterintuitiveness, declare (I’m talking to you, George Monbiot) “the crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power,” what do you propose that we do with all the spent fuel rods?

As one frankly biased toward the possibility of life on other plants (at however far a remove), it helps me to provide perspective by asking, “How did they handle it on another planet?” With the financial crisis, I can’t help but conclude that capitalism was but a blip in their history. But that’s another story. If, because of the dilemma disposal of nuclear waste poses, nuclear energy was also a blip, what did they do with their spent fuel rods?

Why, shove them over the edge of a black hole, of course. But it may have been 10,000 years after their nuclear period that they developed the technology to ship their fuel rods out of sight and out of mind. Unless we want to wait until that time when we too can dispatch space freighters to black holes, perhaps we should consider whether we want to consider using an energy technology that produces such lethal waste.

2 Responses to Fukushima: Where Do Aliens Store Their Spent Fuel Rods?

  1. Dvd Avins says:

    The isotopes with very long half-lives are not the big problem. Long half-lives mean they decay so slowly that they don’t noticeably heat up and don’t give off very little radiation per time unit.

  2. Mary Ellen Marucci says:

    I feel that the fact that long lived radioactive particles emit les radiation over a given amount of time than their more radioactive relatives, does not mean that they emit less over their radioactive lifetime.. In fact they might emit more over their lifetime.

    The problem is that these elements, most of which are not found in the environment from which we have evolved, mimic elements that our body needs and therefore become part of us and emit radiation in close proximity to our DNA and cells.

    Low levels of ionizing radiation can an do cause more damage than expected becuase they ionize water, splitting it into hydroxyl and hydrogen ions, which then do damage to our cell membranes before bumping into another ion of opposite charge and become neutralized.

    We were tricked into thinking that the human body could take great assualts of radiation before death or cancers,Based on studies of survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, and from those exposed to bomb tests. These studies are based on acute exposure to intense radiation most of it gamma rays which either killed you or you survived and where the ionizing effect was not from an internalized source.

    I am afraid that untold damage has already occured from those tests and that background levels have already been increased to the point of affecting the development, physical and mental of future generations. We need to stop making this stuff, and threatening each other with inialiation from it…both civilian dirty bombs of nuclear power plants and waste, and military weapons of destruction from depleted uranium to esoteric uses of the byproducts in medicine, lighting, and communications and energy distribution and of course nuclear wapons.

    We also need to realize that nano technology, the microzzination of materials will also deliver a similar adverse effect on life, so there are technologies about to be unleashed that shouldnt! It might be easier to stop nano tech than nuclear because of the mass and momentum of an ongoing technology but both need to be addressed. Not much time left before our crust gives us the shake-off. We ned to be ready for natural disasters and not make them worse from our poisonous technologies..

    We now know that it is not a direct correlation between exposure and disease, and that all that is certain is the amount it will take to kill. Unfortunatelky it loks like it takes even less than expected to have adverse effects, probably from the microzination of the radioactive particles but also because they mimic elements our boides use in metabolism, growth and repair.

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