Contrary to what may be popular belief, nuclear waste is rarely a glowing green liquid, and mostly has low levels of radioactivity, with over 90% of the world’s nuclear waste considered to be at a low level.
According to a recent article from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in the UK, the world currently has 22,000m3 of high-level waste (LW), 460,000m3 of intermediate-level waste, 3,479,000m3 of low-level waste and 2,356,000m3 of very low-level waste, alongside 370,793 therms (tHM) of spent fuel.
With the amount of nuclear waste being produced only increasing each year, what is the best way of dealing with this hazardous, mostly solid, material?
It also leads the way worldwide for dealing with nuclear waste, with the IAEA stating in May 2018 that the country’s National Radioactive Waste Agency (ANDRA) had a “comprehensive commitment to safety with a responsible approach to the management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.”
Maintained by the NDA with a budget of £2bn a year, Sellafield is the home of the UK’s nuclear waste.
In a report from January 2019, environmental group Greenpeace warned that dealing with and storing nuclear waste has become a “global crisis” and criticised governments around the world for lacking long-term planning on dealing with the substance.
The nuclear waste conundrum is a serious issue that requires long-term plans from governments around the world, but it is a long-term concern rather than short-term.