Imagine nuclear waste dumped in the Katandra Reserve

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There will always be environmental problems with energy generation, conversion, transport and consumption.

The main problem will likely be energy conversion efficiency, as energy losses from the conversion and transmission systems require larger installations to meet the customer’s total energy needs.

There is also the problem of disposing of used generation equipment.

In commercial systems, solar modules have a useful life of 20 to 30 years.

They can and are recycled (aluminum and glass recovery), while panels that may have performed below commercial requirements can still be used in less demanding situations at a reduced cost.

Wind turbine blades can last up to 30 years before being replaced by maintenance.

Research is being carried out into the manufacture of recyclable wind turbine blades (Scientific American November 27, 2020).

It can take a few years for this technology to fully develop.

Hydropower plants, both generation and pumped storage systems, involve the construction of water collection systems and dams – with no need to explain the environmental impact.

Batteries (rechargeable types) can and will be recycled.

That leaves the main problem with nuclear power.

What time is required for the safe, radiation-free dismantling of a nuclear reactor at the end of its design life?

Spent fuel rods can and will be processed to recover the original, unreacted uranium atoms so that replacement rods can be made.

However, the separated highly radioactive fission products cannot be recycled for other purposes and must be stored in biological isolation until their radioactivity has dropped to a biologically harmless level.

In some cases, this can take tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years.

Comments have been made that Australia has extremely high renewable energy potential with technology already in place.

Perhaps this is the main reason (CCN317) why Australia was chosen not to embark on the nuclear path.

Finally, if all of the US’s used nuclear waste products can be stored, as claimed, in a 100 x 50 x 10 meter (CCN 316) volume, imagine the storage facility on the Mount Elliot Katandra Reservation.

How far would the biological isolation zone plus the security extension extend and for how long?

The reserve would be unusable and the surrounding areas would have to be taken up again.

Email, November 8th
Col Hodgson, Mount Elliot

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