[ RadSafe ] Nuclear waste looms as challenge in Asia

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 9 23:05:21 CDT 2006

Nuclear waste looms as challenge in Asia 
By MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer 
Sat Jul 8, 8:23 PM ET

GYEONGJU, South Korea - With royal tombs and a history dating back 
1,000 years to the Shilla Kingdom, Gyeongju is a cradle of Korean 
civilization. But it's about to get a tomb of a different type. 
A hillside bunker overlooking the Sea of Japan is to become one of 
Asia's first permanent nuclear dump sites, ending        South 
Korea's 19-year quest to deal with low- and medium-level waste such 
as contaminated clothing and old parts from its 20 nuclear power 

It's costing the government nearly $320 million in subsidies to the 
town of 300,000 for voting to accept the dump, and it doesn't even 
begin to address the country's real problem - 6,500 tons of spent 
nuclear fuel with hundreds of thousands of years to live and nowhere 
to go.

As Asia goes nuclear in a big way to feed its appetite for energy, 
environmentalists are warning that the growing stockpiles could 
either be stolen by terrorists and used to make a bomb, or end up 
polluting the environment.

The nuclear industry says a permanent solution will eventually be 
found and that the waste issue will not slow the growth of nuclear 
power in Asia. Temporary sites, they said, are safe.

But only the United States and Finland have come up with permanent 
sites, and the one at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is years behind 
schedule and mired in legal disputes.

One solution is to recycle spent fuel by extracting its plutonium and 
combining it with uranium. But the plutonium is weapons-grade and 
could fall into terrorist hands, warns the U.S.-based Union of 
Concerned Scientists.

Waste-dumping has rallied anti-nuclear forces in Asian democracies 
that allow them to function freely.

Taiwan, which has three nuclear plants and is building a fourth, has 
been thwarted three times in its search for a waste dump. "The 
failure to find a solution to nuclear waste could slow the 
development of nuclear power in democratic countries," said Michael 
Yang, a National Taiwan University professor who follows the storage 
issue. "You already had so many demonstrations over the issue in 
South Korea, Japan and Taiwan."

Australia, has no nuclear plants but has struggled for 15 years to 
find a permanent site for low-level nuclear waste from its medical, 
industrial and research facilities.

It settled in 2004 on three potential sites in the Northern 
Territory, which is home to Aborigine communities as well as world-
famous Ayers Rock, or Uluru. Authorities expect to choose a final 
site by 2007 and open it in 2011.

"People are outraged," said Michaela Stubbs of Friends of the Earth 

Sandy Perle 
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations 
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc. 
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306 
Fax:(949) 296-1144

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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