1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. UPSC

Managing Nuclear Waste

Why is it in the news?

  • India recently loaded the core of its delayed prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR), advancing towards stage II of its nuclear program, utilizing uranium and plutonium, with the eventual goal of leveraging thorium reserves for energy independence.
  • However, the extensive use of nuclear power poses challenges in waste management.
  • Top of Form

About Nuclear waste

  • Nuclear waste is generated in fission reactors when atoms of certain elements are bombarded by neutrons, leading to their destabilization and subsequent breakdown into different elements.
  • Spent fuel from nuclear reactors contains radioactive fission products and elements resulting from the absorption of neutrons by uranium.
  • Nuclear waste is highly radioactive and requires specialized storage facilities to prevent leakage and contamination of the environment.

Handling Nuclear waste

  • Handling spent fuel is a major challenge due to its high radioactivity and heat generation, requiring underwater storage for several decades before transfer to dry casks for longer-term storage.
  • Liquid waste treatment facilities in nuclear power plants handle aqueous wastes containing short-lived radionuclides, with some waste being discharged after treatment.
  • High-level liquid waste containing fission products is vitrified into a glass-like form for long-term storage.
  • Various methods such as geological disposal, reprocessing, and incineration are employed to manage nuclear waste, each with its own advantages and challenges.

Issues associated with nuclear waste

  • Concerns exist regarding the safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste, with incidents such as the Asse II salt mine decontamination project highlighting the potential risks to the environment and public health.
  • Uncertainties surround the treatment of liquid waste and the effectiveness of vitrification plants.
  • The cost of nuclear waste management adds to the overall cost of nuclear power generation, with estimates indicating significant expenditure per unit of energy produced.

India handling nuclear waste

  • India manages nuclear waste generated from power stations through on-site treatment and storage facilities.
  • Reprocessing plants in Trombay, Tarapur, and Kalpakkam handle spent fuel, producing plutonium for stage II reactors and nuclear weapons.

Get free UPSC Updates straight to your inbox!

Get Updates on New Notification about APPSC, TSPSC and UPSC

Get Current Affairs Updates Directly into your Inbox

Discover more from AMIGOS IAS

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading