When nobody wants radioactive waste, Romania’s ready to commit
Published 13th October 2009 - 6 comments - 4461 views -
This is a local case study that goes well to what Daniel has already emphasized in his Nuclear power - no thanks! article.
Starting with 2015, Romania will have the most powerful laser in the world that researchers will use for high energy nuclear experiments, with results expected to exceed the laws of relativity. The European project called ELI (Extreme Light Infrastructure), comparable to the famous CERN in Geneva, will be the largest research infrastructure if the ex-communist area. By being part of this, Romania will be practically put on the world's scientific map.
At least in theory, it's good news for a country whose scientific level is comparable to the one in the 3rd world states. In practice, the Magurele platform (the location of this high sought infrastructure), will attempt to neutralize nuclear waste, or how scientists call it - transmutation by irradiation. Thus, nuclear waste from Cernavoda Power Plant and other Eastern European plants will end up at 3 km away from Bucharest.
Cernobyl (Wikipedia photo)
"Nuclear power comes with radioactive waste. Storing the radioactive material is extremely complicated. Security problems might appear because radioactive material is used to manufacture nuclear weapons, but the biggest problem is that they have a very long life. Nuclear waste radiates for thousands and millions of years. Hide it in a cave if you may, but, for millions of years to come, it will continue to emit radiations, to be a sort of Chernobyl. This is an extremely serious problem. The United States haven't yet decided where to store waste, because nobody wants to live near a radioactive neighborhood (covering an area of thousands of kilometers). With the help of the ELI system, we can radiate and neutralize radioactive waste in a matter of tens of minutes. Starting with December 2015, waste from Cernavoda and from neighboring countries like Bulgaria and Ukraine will be brought here to be bombarded with laser beams," explains Marius Enachescu, Vice-President of the National Authority for Scientific Research (NASR).
ELI Consortium comprises 12 countries: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain and Hungary.
I understand the importance of scientific experiments and research. We'd still be living in a cave unless someone wouldn't have experimented something, but I don't understand why would Romania want to take the risks of dealing with radioactive waste (even if in theory we speak about a short time-span radiation process) when super powers like United States haven't yet decided where to store theirs but along with Japan (another super power) will serve as observers in the ELI experiments?
I doubt we have the security means needed to supervise such a huge process. (Okay, let's say we'll get them by 2015). I also have doubts regarding possible waste spills. Not that I don't appreciate the important role Romania theoretically has in this project, but I wonder if it's worth the risks for the an environment that's already under a lot of pressure and for the people living here.
With nuclear power, there is always a chance of collateral damage. In this case, Magurele can become the next Cernobyl. Or worse.
About the author
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