Radioctive Waste Management

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Radioactive waste is generated by processes and activities that utilize or produce radio active materials. There are various activities that produce this kind of waste. These activities include mining, industrial processes, nuclear processes, medicine, warfare and science research (Young, 2006). Radioactive waste can appear in all forms of matter which are solid gas and liquid. The period which this waste can remain radioactive is not definite. It can be an hour a day or even a thousand years. Radioactive waste is very hazardous which means that there must be a very effective way of disposing off the radioactive waste. The method of disposal varies with the type of waste meaning that there is no single method of disposing the radioactive waste. Good disposal of radioactive waste is essential because it is a method of protecting the people from the hazardous effects of the radioactive waste. Management of radioactive waste helps to protect the health of the people and the entire environment (Wallace, 1994). The management of radioactive waste is a practice that has changed substantively over the years and the methods of disposal have also changed. This is especially due to the evolution of methods of conserving the environment that has led to improvement of the methods that are used to manage radio active waste. The designs for the management of waste have to meet the current environmental conservation standards in order to avoid pollution in any way.

Management of the radio active waste is a complex issue especially because of the different varieties of radioactive waste that has to be managed. The regulatory structure that is there to deal with the management of radioactive waste is also very complex. This is because management of radioactive waste involves very many stakeholders that are either affected or concerned about the environmental ramification of radioactive waste.

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In the management of the radioactive waste, there is a format of categorization of the waste. The best way is to categorize the waste according its radioactive levels. This brings us to the concept of high level management which is a practice that revolves around the proper management and efficient disposal of highly toxic radioactive materials like the ones that are generated during the nuclear processes. This management is quite sophisticated in its treatment and disposal of the waste. The management of radioactive waste is a continuous process because there must be long term strategies that include detoxification of the waste and even permanent storage. The management of this waste is a worldwide program and no nation has been left behind because any form of laxity in the management of this toxic waste can expose a nation, a region and the world at large to far-reaching environmental consequences.

There are two prerequisites for the efficient disposal of highly toxic radioactive waste and these prerequisites are fundamentally relevant. One of this prerequisite is a stable and permanent human institution that can maintain this stability over a period of more than a thousand years because if this stability is lost, there can be disastrous consequences. The second prerequisite that is important for efficient management of highly toxic radioactive waste is the stable geological formations. The challenge is that there is no human generation that is known to last this long and there is no repository big enough for stable geological formations. This does not mean that the issue cannot be confronted. Failure to control or confront the risks can even be more disastrous and this implies that there must be policy analysis frameworks that are effective enough to address the ethical issues and the impact of the radioactive processes on the future generations. The best policy analysis framework is the constitution of an acceptable foundations that corporate science and engineering to facilitate efficient disposal strategies that will ensure environmental sustainability. The use of geochemical analysis and geo-hydrologic processes can be very risky but effective in the maintenance of the analogous formations of nature which impede subterranean action of the radioactive nuclides and this makes it easy to tackle the challenge of the complicated geologic formations processes. Computer simulated policy analysis models that are empirical in nature can be used to monitor the toxic and dangerous half lives of the radioactive waste in a manner that ensures that deep geological repositories are used to tackle this challenge.There are many challenges that countries around the world are facing in their efforts to manage radioactive waste. The main challenge storing the waste and keeping it in storage for decaying to take place given that decaying takes thousand of years and there is a lot of radioactive waste that is being produced by many processes. The methods used to manage the waste must be very watertight and highly reliable because any lapse in the disposal and management of the radioactive waste can have tremendous consequences. This means that the management of the radioactive waste is a long term project that involves many generations who must ensure that high levels of reliability in the management are observed in order to protect the environment form the far reaching consequences of radioactive pollution.

Materials for geological disposal

In the management of the radioactive waste, there should be special consideration to the high level radioactive waste which should be given special treatment to enhance fast decay. The best way is to break the materials down into various classes because some materials are structured while others are not (Bentham, 2000). Silicates and phosphates are the best chemicals that can be used to immobilize the radioactive waste that is highly toxic. Many countries that have nuclear plants are already using these chemicals to manage nuclear waste which is one of the most highly radioactive water that exist. The advantage of these chemicals is that they can be used to immobilize a wide range of nuclear waste because they have lower rats of dissolution. However, they cannot accommodate all the ranges of the waste meaning that there must be efforts to develop enough immobilizers that will manage to accommodate or the different kinds of radioactive waste that is that is produced through various processes.

Radioactive waste management plans

There are three countries in the world that have developed policy analysis frameworks that enhance the deep repository for the management of the radioactive waste. These countries are the United States of America, Sweden and Finland (Murray, 2008). However, the management plans countries vary in nature and structure because the amount and the nature of the waste they produced in their various processes is different. For example, France and Japan have developed policy analysis frameworks that enhance direct consumption or reprocessing. This is because some radioactive elements like used fuel and plutonium are very radioactive and they have a high level of permanence which means that there must be country specific structures that will enhance safe disposal of the radioactive waste.

Country specific management plans

It is important to look at the way different countries manage their radioactive waste. To start with, 29 percent of the electricity used in Japan is generated using nuclear energy. The country generates a lot of nuclear waste that needs concrete structures that will ensure that the waste is sustainably managed. Japan has therefore developed very deep geological repositories and is in the process of completion. When completed, it will have solved the nation’s problem of dealing with the highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Another country whose almost a third of its electric supply is derived from nuclear energy is Finland (Patterson, 200). The country has been having serious challenges in the management of the highly radioactive nuclear waste. A site has already been selected and a big repository is earmarked for construction (Jefferson, 2008). The repository is going to ease the concerns of the government regarding the management of nuclear waste because it is watertight and has high levels of permanence. Almost three quarters of the power that is consumed in France is generated using nuclear energy (White, 2010). The strategy that France uses in the management of this waste is the reprocessing of the reactor fuel that contains plutonium. The management system that France uses is very extensive and sophisticated; the country is in fact managing nuclear waste for other countries at a fee using its well development nuclear waste management systems. Germany has 17 nuclear reactors and is one of the countries that started nuclear programs earliest (Richardson, 2006).

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Nuclear waste management systems have been there in Germany since 1974. However, the country has stopped using nuclear power and the management systems that has been in place to manage nuclear waste are either used to manage other forms of radioactive waste or to manage the nuclear waste of other countries at a fee just like France. Russia does not have large volumes of nuclear waste but has extremely large volumes of spent fuel due to its long history of military exploits (Ward, 1998). Spent oil is highly radioactive and the country has for decades developed watertight waste management programs whose aim is to sustainable manage the radioactive fuel.

Sweden is another Scandinavian country that has powerful nuclear reactors that provide 45 percent of its electricity needs (O’Neill 2004). When the country was building the nuclear reactors, it did not have proper waste management policy framework and most of its highly radioactive nuclear waste is processed in France. Even today, Sweden still outsources waste management services from France because the processing plant is still under construction. 43 percent of the electricity that is consumed in Switzerland is nuclear in nature and just like Sweden; its nuclear waste is managed by France, though a smaller percentage is sent to the Great Britain (Ferguson, 2007). However, unlike most countries, most of the radioactive fuel is stored unprocessed and the country outsources this storage facilities from a private company called ZWILAG which has a large storage facility (Cravens, 2007). The country has not started any project to manage its own waste and is spending a lot on the outsourcing of the waste management services.

The United Kingdom has 20 nuclear reactors that produce a fifth of the electric power that is consumed in the country. Its method of waste management is a radical departure from the ones used by most other countries that have been studied above. The country used the vitrification process where the waste is stored in steel canisters and stored dry before disposal but this problem has caused safety issues in the past where an incident at Delafield almost went hazardous (Bedford, 1998).

The United States of America has the best permanent repository for the storage of radioactive waste mainly because the country has by far the largest volumes of this waste. The biggest repository is found at the Yucca Mountains though it has faced many challenges. One of the challenges is transportation because the repository is far removed from most of the nuclear reactors and radioactive processors and there are fears that accidents might occur along the way creating environmental and health problems that may have far reaching consequences.

Why this paper was chosen

This paper was chosen because the management of radioactive waste is one of the most important global environmental sustainability programs. The global interest in the management of the radioactive waste has peaked because of the increasing number of countries that are using radioactive materials in their industrial processes. The increase in the usage of nuclear power is another issue that has led to the rise in the awareness concerning sustainable practices that can be used to manage the radioactive nuclear waste. Addressing waste management is more important than the industrial processes and that is why countries must develop policy frameworks that can help them to manage waste. The paper is in line with the international and global concerns about the disposal of the radioactive waste

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This research is significant because it addresses one of the global issues that will never fade away. There will be no time when the production of radioactive waste will case because there are some very vital industrial processes that must produce this waste. This means that any research into methods and policies frameworks that can be used in the management of the radioactive waste is highly significant because many countries are facing challenges of dealing with the radioactive waste that is produced by the wide range of industrial activities that produce the waste (Donovan, 2008). The country focused analysis of the methods of waste disposal is also significant because it can help the UNEP to focus on the countries that have weak waste management practices. This will help the UN body to make follow up and ensure that the world is not threatened by practices of water management that is not water tight. The methods used to manage the waste must be very watertight and highly reliable because any lapse in the disposal and management of the radioactive waste can have tremendous consequences. This means that the management of the radioactive waste is a long term projects that involves many generations who must ensure that high levels of reliability in the management are observed in order to protect the environment form the far reaching consequences of radioactive pollution. This research therefore brings into light the evolution of the waste management practices and the futurity of the practices.

The work has contributed immensely to the knowledge of waste management practices and the policy analysis frameworks that can be applied. The work has illustrated the challenges that most countries are facing, the global challenge in waste management and the different types of waste management practices that can be used for the diverse radioactive waste. This work also gives insight into the country specific management systems and plans with a view of creating comparisons and contrasts that can help in the development of a global policy that can be used to address the emerging issues in the management of the radioactive waste.

The work has a very well illustrated practical application. The waste management systems of the illustrated countries can be used in the rest of the world and the application of these practices would depend on the nature of the waste and the toxic levels. Countries that are planning to start nuclear power generation programs can learn from the examples that have been illustrated in this paper and this will enable them to manage their radioactive waste in a responsible manner. Some of the methods illustrated are not only used for nuclear waste; they can be applied to many other types of nuclear waste.

The work that has been presented has very clear objectives. The objective of this wiork is to highlight the evolving methods of radioactive waste management practices, to give solutions to some of the challenges that countries have been facing in their attempts to manage this waste and to illustrate the various methods that some countries have been using to help in the practical application of these practices by other countries that are still facing the challenges (Bentley, 2009). There are two conclusions that can be made from this paper. The first one is that the management of the radioactive waste is a long term projects that involves many generations who must ensure that high levels of reliability in the management are observed in order to protect the environment form the far reaching consequences of radioactive pollution. The second one is that management of radioactive waste is a practice that has changed substantively over the years and the methods of disposal have also changed due to the evolution of methods of conserving the environment that has led to improvement of the methods that are used to manage radio active waste. The designs for the management of waste have to meet the current environmental conservation standards in order to avoid pollution in any way.

This paper is very comprehensive in its exposition of the different methods that can be used to manage radioactive waste. However, it can be improved by going into the actual waste management practices, detailing the nature of the processes, the challenges that the processes face and the solutions that can be applied to deal with the processes. It can also be used though the use of tangible statistics and examples of failed waste management practices inured to strengthen the message that the paper is carrying

List of references

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  4. Cravens, G. (2007). Power to Save the World: the Truth about Nuclear Energy. New York: Knopf.
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  6. Ferguson, C.D. (2007). Nuclear Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks New York: Wiley
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  14. Wallace. (1994) Nuclear Energy. New York: Guilford Press.
  15. Young, J. (2006). Environmental sustainability in the industrial age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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