U.K. Ponders How to Rid Itself of Nuclear Waste

The U.K. is stuck with nearly 500,000 tons of nuclear waste, which will be dangerous for 250,000 years, and it is flummoxed about what to do with it. A government commission assigned to study the problem is considering a range of options including, we kid you not, firing the stuff into the sun, burying it underneath the ocean, placing it on Antarctica where it would melt its way down to bedrock, and tunneling it down under the Earth’s crust — an idea that’s already been tried (!) by the U.S. and Russia. There’s also the old-fashioned option of storing it above ground in concrete bunkers, but those things need upgrading every 100 years or so, and by our math, that’s 2,500 upgrades before the waste becomes safe. A report to the commission states, with tragic-comic British dryness, that 50 years of experience dealing with nuclear waste shows “the pursuit of ‘the best’ in the long-term management of radioactive waste to be an illusory concept,” and that success, in this grim context, means “the identification of ‘the acceptable.'”