Cuts In Cumbria – A Chemical Story

I’ve been hearing of late about the whole process of just what
goes on when nukiller waste is put in to storage.

Now we all know that the nukiller industry produces a lot of
very radioactive waste,
but it should also be remembered that what is left behind is a
very toxic chemical mixture which could become very volatile
if it is handled in the wrong way.

Many of these chemicals are also very corrosive,
which makes for some very difficult storage problems,
particularly given that this material is going to present a
radioactive danger for many centuries in to the future.

Thus Windscale,
which was rebranded as Sellefield,
should be regarded as being:-

– a Nukiller Reactor plant,

– a storage facility for highly radioactive waste,

– a facility in which Plutonium is extracted from Highly
Radioactive waste,


– Very large chemical conversion factory.

All of which means that what goes on in the plant presents
some very challenging safety problems for us all.

Even if all of the nukiller plants throughout the globe were
to close down right now,
and no more plutonium were to be extracted from the
resulting waste,
then there will still be an ongoing problem which we will have
to be faced up to.

It is not just a problem of safeguarding the waste,
as there will also be a financial burden which will last for
centuries to come.

Meanwhile back at Windscale: –
there have been so many reports of chemical & radioactive
leaks over the years,
that it all makes for such a very very very long list.

That’s why I’m not even going try to mention just 0.1% of what
has gone on within or around the plant over the years.

Never mind the growing list of criticisms about just how the
plant operates,
which might be best summed up as a chemical incompetence.

For while there has been a lot of effort put in to reducing the
quantity of waste,
very little thought about just how to deal with the resulting
highly radioactive chemical gunk.

This is not to say that there have not been various proposals
as to how this waste might be stored.

For example:
There have been efforts to store this waste deep
such as happened in Germany.

The trouble is that none of these supposed ‘solutions’ will
ever work.

Just storing the waste while it is still undergoing a chemical
reaction is not the brightest idea as to what might be done
with it in the short to medium term.

Never mind the long lived radioactivity which is just another
problem which future generations are going to have to deal
with  !!!

So some of the recent developments within Cumbria should be
regarded with alarm.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is looking to axe

As with all the various UK government agencies financial cuts
are on the way.

This means job losses.

Depending upon which reports you read,
both within the NDA and at Windscale this will effect between
90 and 1,200 workers.  *

All of which opens up some very interesting questions as to
just what will happen to all of those vast amounts of nukiller
waste within the years to come,
and just who will be around to safeguard us from it all?

To misquote the old saying:

Watch that space.

* A report in the Times ( June 23rd 2010 ) reported that the NDA will cut some 296 jobs,  while the trade unions fear that they might be in the region of 1,200.

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