Nuclear Waste

Low and medium level waste from Koeberg is dumped at Vaalputs.  The people who live around Vaalputs were not consulted when this site was selected.

About once a week a truck containing radioactive  waste travels from Koeberg to Vaalputs.

The high level waste a a very real source of concern.  Koeberg produces about 30 tons of high level waste per year, and all of it is currently stored at Koeberg – over 1000 tons.  If not stored properly, The waste can melt, and also ‘go critical’, which would result in  a nuclear explosion.

According to Eskom, the spent fuel pools were designed to hold 5 years worth of spent fuel [ AO – Radioactive Waste Management pg 1-79~1.pdf ] (According to the NNR, it was 4 years. [ CNS Report 2005.pdf] )  Now Eskom plans to hold 40 years of spent fuel using “super high-density storage racking” .  This is because we have not yet found a safe way of disposing of this waste.  For the next nuclear plant, the Environmental Impact Assessment was allowed to exclude high level waste disposal – the problem is just ignored, or rather, just deferred for future generations to deal with.

This is despite the instruction from the Department of the Environment [Ref: 12/12/20/944] that “waste disposal … must be described in detail” and that “The long term storage of high level nuclear waste must be addressed”.  The EIA consultants have ignored this instruction.  When questioned in public (I have this on video) the consultants begrudgingly answered that they considered “long term” to mean about 60 years… and the waste is dangerous for thousands of years!


8 responses to “Nuclear Waste

  1. Pingback: Why I don’t want any more nuclear in SA |

  2. Pingback: Why I don’t want any more nuclear energy in South Africa |

  3. Pingback: Why I don’t want any more nuclear power in SA | Thought Leader

  4. ‘go critical’, lol best read ever you guys have no nuclear theory behind you. You jsut read stuff on the paper and read some green peace sites and believe anything you read. Let me make some facts straight. Nuclear waste will never explode. The explosions that come with handling waste is because of pressure and not nuclear explosions. There has never been a accidental nuclear explosion from a nuclear power plant. Only radiation waste leaking through a steam explosion or some other aspect. Go lean nuclear physics to get a understanding of what you are trying to fight against before spouting your stupidity online.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Ludger. However, ignoring the personal attack, your statements are not consistent with the facts. There was an accidental nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl plant, for example. Also, there is much uncertainty about what exactly happened at Fukushima, and one likely possibility is that the spent fuel (aka high level waste) which was stored in the reactor building melted and caused a criticality.

      In terms of Koeberg, the danger of criticality in the spent fuels was raised in an internal report produced by the plant operator, in which is was stated that the new spent fuel had to be placed in a checkerboard pattern to avoid such criticality.

      A criticality occurs when enough fissile radioactive material is in close enough proximity to cause enough neutrons to be absorbed and create a chain reaction. You can learn more about his here which also has a list of the many criticality accidents that have occured. Or here is a more scientific paper, specifically about critically in nuclear waste

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