On Energy Priorities, a short but interesting piece on France’s struggles with nuclear waste. The good bit:
Every day, about ten shipping containers arrive on trucks at the Soulaines-Dhuys storage facility outside Troyes, in the province of Ardennes, 180 kilometers east of Paris. On board are barrels of waste that isn’t radioactive enough to be stored at Marcoule. Every year, 15,000 cubic meters of waste contaminated with uranium, plutonium and tritium arrive here.
The 350-acre site is like an above-ground Yucca Mountain. Construction cranes hover above a hundred bunker-like cement blocks already filled with barrels encased in concrete. In 60 years, the cranes’ job will be done, the 400-bunker facility will be full, and the entire facility will be covered with a concrete lid. What then?
The Soulaines-Dhuys site will enter a 300-year surveillance phase. After that, the plan is to observe the site until the stored waste loses its radioactivity.
The initial 300 years is just the beginning. Even moderately radioactive plutonium retains hazardous for 24,000 years. Skeptics wonder if future generations will follow the plan — or even remember where the site is located.
Is it smart to rely on a form of energy the byproduct of which requires 24,000 years of constant, careful monitoring? Honestly.
Get Grist in your inbox