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Radioactive Waste Management - Essay Example

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Summary to essay on topic "Radioactive Waste Management"
In the production of electricity, in health care, research and industrial activities radioactive materials are used commonly. Just like waste is formed through an activity, radioactive materials also leave behind radioactive waste. Disposal of any kind of waste is necessary for human safety and health…
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Download file "Radioactive Waste Management" to see previous pages... Hospitals and labs doing research work generate low-levels of radioactive waste. Also the nuclear fuel cycle generates it, however at this level the radioactivity lasts a short time and not dangerous to dispose of. The intermediate-level of waste should be disposed carefully as it contains higher amounts of radioactivity.
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The high-level waste may be the used fuel itself, or the waste generated from reprocessing the fuel. They contain long-lived radioactivity and also generates a high amount of heat. (AUA, 2007)
Radioactive materials are themselves a threat, and shielding is required for their management. Their waste is even more a threat since it can affect millions of people throughout the area that has been exposed to, hence proper management is required. Since most of the radioactive waste can be reused for nuclear plants, its high cost and utility makes it important to manage it properly. Also management from the point of view of keeping radioactive materials secure is also important since in the wrong hands, radioactive materials can be used to spread terrorism in the world. (IAEA, 1995)
Radioactive waste is hazardous for the natural environment in high quantities. Once the radioactivity escapes into the environment, humans and other species are exposed to ionizing radiation. Since humans are among the most radiation sensitive organisms, the effect can be as bad as or even worse than that happed to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The natural resources would be destroyed over extended periods of time. Chemical pollution and adverse affect on the natural habitats of other species can de disastrous for our future generations. (IAEA, 1995)

Political Impacts
Keeping radioactive waste can be a threat to the security of a nation and even a threat to the world. Since terrorism is a very strong force in this world today, keeping radioactive waste provides an opportunity to these fanatics to take control of the waste and use them for their terrorist activities.

Physical
The radioactive waste requires special landfills with lead containers kept deep inside the earth. The land then becomes unusable due to threat of radioactive contamination. When an area becomes contaminated, it then becomes quarantined and involves a massive cleanup campaign. If the radioactive waste is short lived then usually the site becomes usable after the radioactive waste decays. However in the case of long-lived waste, suitable sites are cleared and dug up to facilitate the waste in deep final repositories. (IAEA, 1995)

Economic
The management of radioactive waste is often extremely expensive. According to an Israeli estimate, it costs $30,000 per ton to treat and properly dispose low-radioactive nuclear waste (Kloosterman, 2007). This cost is extremely high for even a developed country. According to Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), UK's nuclear waste clean-up program could cost more than 70bn (BBC, 2006).

Responses
Individuals
Everyone at a personal level realizes the threat that radioactive waste poses for their country and to themselves. At a personal level, everyone should try to contain and limit the use of radioactive material in ...Download file "Radioactive Waste Management" to see next pagesRead More
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