Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022

Interrobang

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Wind power is good. We get it. Nuclear waste disposal can be figured out - as a species, we figured out way harder things. The stuff came from the ground, and to the ground it can return.
Man dig hole. Waste in hole. Good idea. Man done. Now beer for man!

:p we've figured out shit when it comes to nuclear waste in the last 60 years other than producing a shitload of the stuff and making it more poisonous.

[...]Is it plausible to cover all fields in windmills?

There are off-shore wind parks, there is solar energy, energy from water ... wind-energy does not have to do everything. In Germany Wind energy is currently heading for 15% (Portugal even more!) of all energy produced and I doubt it will ever reach more than 20%. Nobody thinks Wind is the only answer to our energy production problems - everyone knows the answer is a mix of energy. Wind will and shall play a role in that - but certainly not the only one.
 

chaos386

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Fun-fact: even Saudi Arabia is planning wind and solar power deployments (our first wind turbine was installed last week). Domestic oil consumption (through transportation as well as electricity production) is rising rapidly, and every barrel of oil we use internally is one we can't export. Solar power is sort of...obvious, but another factor helping that out is that 55% of our electricity production goes is used for air conditioning, which conveniently tracks sunlight pretty well.

One part of the renewable energy plan stuck out to me in particular: aside from the turbine mentioned above, wind power will exclusively be used to power desalination plants, and won't be fed into the grid.
 

MacGuffin

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Are there squirrels in Saudi-Arabia?
 

mpicco

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Man dig hole. Waste in hole. Good idea. Man done. Now beer for man!

Yeah cos our current efforts to dispose of our daily waste are going soooooo weeeelllll...

This stuff comes from the ground. We have dug really deep tunnels under mountains and very deep mines. Why not stuff them in there?
 

prizrak

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Yeah cos our current efforts to dispose of our daily waste are going soooooo weeeelllll...

This stuff comes from the ground. We have dug really deep tunnels under mountains and very deep mines. Why not stuff them in there?

Actually biggest problem with our daily waste is the plastics we make since they are not biodegradable, the rest of the stuff is not much of an issue.

I wonder if the nuclear waste could go back into the mines it was gotten out of, obviously radioactivity is not much of a concern there.
 

mpicco

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Actually biggest problem with our daily waste is the plastics we make since they are not biodegradable, the rest of the stuff is not much of an issue.

Well, that's kind of a big deal, because it's quite challenging to find anything at all without plastic. Food comes wrapped in plastic, all our electronics, cars, appliances, etc have a huge amount of plastic, so it's not a small deal.
 

prizrak

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Well, that's kind of a big deal, because it's quite challenging to find anything at all without plastic. Food comes wrapped in plastic, all our electronics, cars, appliances, etc have a huge amount of plastic, so it's not a small deal.

There has been some movement on that front but yes I agree it's quite a problem.
 

GRtak

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Yeah cos our current efforts to dispose of our daily waste are going soooooo weeeelllll...

This stuff comes from the ground. We have dug really deep tunnels under mountains and very deep mines. Why not stuff them in there?


Water running underground. It is what has held up the Yucca Mountain project.
 

CD82

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I wonder if the nuclear waste could go back into the mines it was gotten out of, obviously radioactivity is not much of a concern there.

Ionizing radiation is only part of the problem. The other, equally pressing matter is toxicity. When you start digging up uranium and plutonium, those are mostly trace elements that have a very low concentration. You need to purify a lot of "dirt" to get a decent amount of these materials. Once a fuel rod is spent (or no longer economically viable) you can't simply put it back into the earth, because you made something with a very high concentration of lots of toxic (and radioactive) elements that would like nothing better than to react to stuff like groundwater. Even if it wasn't for the radioactive nature of the stuff that comes out of NPPs, you still wouldn't be able to simply throw it away because it is far too toxic. The combination of toxic+radioactive simply makes it even more "fun" to handle and find some place to put the stuff.
 

narf

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What's even worse, nobody's actually digging up Plutonium - it's virtually all made in reactors, and compared to Uranium it's way more radioactive and toxic.
The most commonly produced isotope is roughly five orders of magnitude (!!!) more active than the Uranium you put into the reactor... and while it logically also has a five orders of magnitude shorter half-life it's still at 24000 years.

Even more nasty stuff like Iodine is what kills people quickly in case of an oopsie - hence the stockpiling of Iodine tablets to saturate the body - but at least that stops being so nasty on a human time scale.
There's no naturally occurring Iodine of such nastiness.
 

prizrak

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Ionizing radiation is only part of the problem. The other, equally pressing matter is toxicity. When you start digging up uranium and plutonium, those are mostly trace elements that have a very low concentration. You need to purify a lot of "dirt" to get a decent amount of these materials. Once a fuel rod is spent (or no longer economically viable) you can't simply put it back into the earth, because you made something with a very high concentration of lots of toxic (and radioactive) elements that would like nothing better than to react to stuff like groundwater. Even if it wasn't for the radioactive nature of the stuff that comes out of NPPs, you still wouldn't be able to simply throw it away because it is far too toxic. The combination of toxic+radioactive simply makes it even more "fun" to handle and find some place to put the stuff.

So basically it needs to be in the middle of some mountain in the desert where no ground water is present, that's a tough one for sure.

- - - Updated - - -

What's even worse, nobody's actually digging up Plutonium - it's virtually all made in reactors, and compared to Uranium it's way more radioactive and toxic.
The most commonly produced isotope is roughly five orders of magnitude (!!!) more active than the Uranium you put into the reactor... and while it logically also has a five orders of magnitude shorter half-life it's still at 24000 years.

Even more nasty stuff like Iodine is what kills people quickly in case of an oopsie - hence the stockpiling of Iodine tablets to saturate the body - but at least that stops being so nasty on a human time scale.
There's no naturally occurring Iodine of such nastiness.

Forgot about plutonium, you are right there.
 

CD82

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I don't even know, honestly. What you want is to put all that stuff in containers that are corrosion resistant and also shield most of the radioactitivity. Then you want to put it all in a hole in the ground, preferably underneath a mountain. Also, the region should not have any seismic activity whatsoever (to avoid structural damage to the containers). Furthermore, you have to either make sure that the stuff is never ever ever ever going to be seen again, or you have to put signs up (that need to last as long as the containers), warning everybody of the nasty stuff you put there, and also these signs need to be universally understood (in case our civilization gets reset by some global events and languages develop differently).

Oh and on top that, all of these points need to hold up for the next couple of thousand years. Oh and maybe from time to time somebody should look after the stuff, to make sure that the containers are still good. So yeah, it's not exactly as simple as "put stuff in ground, never worry about it".
 

GRtak

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Your time frame is rather short. The half life is measured in tens of thousands of years, if not millions of years.
 

prizrak

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I don't even know, honestly. What you want is to put all that stuff in containers that are corrosion resistant and also shield most of the radioactitivity. Then you want to put it all in a hole in the ground, preferably underneath a mountain. Also, the region should not have any seismic activity whatsoever (to avoid structural damage to the containers). Furthermore, you have to either make sure that the stuff is never ever ever ever going to be seen again, or you have to put signs up (that need to last as long as the containers), warning everybody of the nasty stuff you put there, and also these signs need to be universally understood (in case our civilization gets reset by some global events and languages develop differently).

Oh and on top that, all of these points need to hold up for the next couple of thousand years. Oh and maybe from time to time somebody should look after the stuff, to make sure that the containers are still good. So yeah, it's not exactly as simple as "put stuff in ground, never worry about it".

Yeah it's a tricky one for sure
 

narf

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Your time frame is rather short. The half life is measured in tens of thousands of years, if not millions of years.

That. Sticking to Plutonium with 24000 years and assuming you'll want to achieve only 1% of the initial levels, you need to wait about 150000 years... and 1% of Plutonium's radiation is still nasty.
Going back 150000 years you're into early Neanderthal territory.
 

chaos386

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That. Sticking to Plutonium with 24000 years and assuming you'll want to achieve only 1% of the initial levels, you need to wait about 150000 years... and 1% of Plutonium's radiation is still nasty.
Going back 150000 years you're into early Neanderthal territory.

Clearly, we need to figure out what the Neanderthals did with their nuclear waste, since it was obviously done properly!
 

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Water running underground. It is what has held up the Yucca Mountain project.

Groundwater that sits 1,000 ft below dry rock and drains to a basin that isn't used by anyone. I.e. in the very unlikely chance that the water does get contaminated, it poses no risk to humans or the anything that lives in the vicinity because the water isn't used by anybody.

Putting the fuel in a dry cask and then shipping it to Yucca is the best we can do and frankly I don't have a problem with it considering that area has been used as a test bed for Nuclear weapons already.
 

narf

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Wasn't Yucca Mountain formed by volcanoes? Ones that last erupted well within the last 100000 years? Great idea for a "forever" storage site.
 
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