Sunday, 17 January 2010

nuclear waste heritage!

A couple of weeks ago under the headline "Forever waste" I referred to problems of the salt mine ASSE in Germany used as a final storage for light and medium contaminated nuclear waste. The storage was used from 1965 until 1978; originally declared safe for at least 100,000 years to come soon penetrating humidity, then water questioned its reliability.

As usual all kinds of sources give you a wide range of choices to select your fears from; while in October of 2009 - see photo below with a man filling his wee cup - reported that the daily volume of water penetrating certain areas of the salt mine and only such with no nuclear waste stored in had increased from 30 to 100 litres per day - which in buckets sounds not really threatening - other official sources report water volumes of up to 12m³ - avoiding to say "12,000 litres per day"; what a charming and calming difference?

Cleaning up in 420 days

Last week it was decided to clean up the place. Roundabout 126,000 barrels filled with nuclear waste, the majority not even labelled, and dumped in deep, now salt water flooded holes will need to be taken above ground (from 750m down) and precisely examined; not decided, yet, is what to do then with the historic waste the majority of which was dumped in 1976 and 1977 when the closure was imminent and all wanted to get rid of then most probably all kinds of nuclear waste; now the commission allows 4.8 minutes for each barrel for transport above ground and thorough examination.

Odd figures always make one sceptical: so they calculated 10,080 hours to do the complete job!? One year equals 8,760 hours, surely they can work in three shifts, so all will be cleaned up within one year and 55 days.

Besides the threat of the water the salt mine is obviously declared structurally unsafe; life spans of 3 to 10 years are given before the risk of collapse is declared acute; no worries, this time the scientists should be a wee more accurate and the tolerance in their guesses might be a bit closer to reality than 100,000 safe years compared to really only just some dozens of years. It remains to be seen whether the tolerances in guessing and throwing the dice will allow for 420 stress-free days for this 4.8 minute per barrel operation.

Would a € per barrel figure not be more interesting?

May be that tells you why the hurry...

Yes, this bracket was once straight.

The globe’s stories about finding appropriate sites for storing nuclear waste even on a minimum scale of sustainability are stories of failure, lies and in the best cases belittlement; never over the last fifty years was just one safe place found but billions have been spent and will now need to be invested into old waste – not to talk about the new one.

It is just another lie that alternative energy is expensive and the driver of cost when it comes to sustainable electricity generation and transport; the real cost for R&D and the waste problematic of nuclear power is dumped on us through separate balance positions. But what is cost against the threat of nuclear contamination? Would you like to own a house around Hanover/Germany and drink fresh water?

final storage sites near Hannover, Germany

Carpe 420 dies!


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