[ RadSafe ] Nuclear waste looms as challenge in Asia
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
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
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
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614
Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306
Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/
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