What can be done with nuclear waste?

CORRECTION: This graphic about disposal methods for nuclear waste incorrectly described Yucca Mountain, a proposed U.S. disposal site in Nevada, as a salt formation. It is a rock formation. | An average 1,000-megawatt commercial nuclear reactor produces more than 20 tons of spent fuel per year. This used fuel still contains quite a bit of energy, but its fission process has slowed too much to be useful in making electricity. Because it is warm and emitting radiation, it must immediately be placed in cooling pools adjacent to the reactor. Regardless of a country’s chosen waste disposal method, all reactors’ spent fuel starts in these pools and stays there, covered in water, for up to five years. Once the waste has decayed and cooled enough to be moved, there are four options:

CORRECTION: This graphic about disposal methods for nuclear waste incorrectly described Yucca Mountain, a proposed U.S. disposal site in Nevada, as a salt formation. It is a rock formation. | An average 1,000-megawatt commercial nuclear reactor produces more than 20 tons of spent fuel per year. This used fuel still contains quite a bit of energy, but its fission process has slowed too much to be useful in making electricity. Because it is warm and emitting radiation, it must immediately be placed in cooling pools adjacent to the reactor. Regardless of a country’s chosen waste disposal method, all reactors’ spent fuel starts in these pools and stays there, covered in water, for up to five years. Once the waste has decayed and cooled enough to be moved, there are four options:
SOURCES: Revis James, director of the Energy Technology Assessment Center at the Electric Power Research Institute; William R. Martin, professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Posiva; World Nuclear Association; Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Bonnie Berkowitz and Todd Lindeman - The Washington Post. Published on March 19, 2011, 11:23 p.m.
 
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