Nuclear waste is piling up around the world even as countries struggle to dispose of spent fuel that will remain highly toxic for many thousands of years, Greenpeace detailed in a report Wednesday.
An analysis of waste storage facilities in seven countries with nuclear power revealed that several were near saturation, the anti-nuclear NGO said.
All these nations also confronted other problems that have yet to be fully contained: fire risk, venting of radioactive gases, environmental contamination, failure of containers, terrorist attacks and escalating costs.
“More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes,” Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert at Greenpeace Germany and coordinator of the report said in a statement.
Currently, there is a global stockpile of around 250,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel distributed across some 14 countries.
Most of this fuel remains in so-called “cooling pools” at reactor sites that lack secondary containment and remain vulnerable to a loss of cooling. Some lack a source of back-up power.
Nuclear waste from uranium mining is also a major environmental concern.
The world’s inventory of uranium mill tailings — sandy waste material that can seep into the local environment — was estimated at more than two billion tonnes as of 2011.
The other countries covered in the report are Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Finland and Britain.
Read more at Storage of nuclear waste a ‘global crisis’: report