Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste

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Nuclear energy has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any power source. Unfortunately, there is the problem of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is created after the process of turning uranium into electricity. To begin the process of nuclear power, said uranium ore is mined from all over the world and then crushed. After the ore is crushed, the inner substance becomes liquid-like. Once it hardens, it is referred to as “yellowcake.” It is then turned into a gas and the useful uranium gas is separated from depleted uranium gas (Nuclear Fuel Cycle, 2018).

Once that is done, the gas is turned into a solid again. The solids look like pills. The pills are fissioned in water. The reaction for the fission is 238U + 1n → 239U→239Np + e- → 239Pu. The uranium becomes plutonium which after more fissioning becomes another plutonium isotope. The fission process is done in water. The water is heated and turns into steam, which turns the turbine, etc. There is a little uranium left after this process.

The leftover uranium is very radioactive and nobody know what to do with it. So it remains stored in approximately 120 facilities throughout the United States. Motions for the bulk of the nuclear waste to be moved to a facility known as Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, have been attempted but have been shut down. Nevadans don’t want their state to be used as a nuclear dumping ground, despite it not being very risky for their safety. The Yucca Mountain site would contain Nuclear waste for up to one million years without it leaking out (Top 11 Facts About Yucca Mountain, 2015).

Another alternative, nuclear recycling, is very prominent in other countries. This would involve taking leftover uranium fissioning it into a type of plutonium and then fissioning that in the reactor. It would be a very efficient way of creating clean energy. This is a successful method used in many other countries but not in the United States do to it being banned by former President Jimmy Carter (Shughart W.F 2014).

Nuclear Power is one of the cleanest ways to power our world and yet it is not used very much in the United States, despite a very large supply of Uranium. This is due to the stigma the public has surrounding nuclear waste. Though the radiation is not likely to hurt them, even presidents are paranoid that their lives will be in danger if we use nuclear energy, (Shughart W.F 2014). One good method would be reversing the stigma by informing people about all of nuclear power’s benefits. Then Georgia could implement a nuclear recycling program, with the public’s support.

At the very least the public would be less opposed to long term storage. Storage on site would limit environmental damage and provide a convenient storage location (Adams 2014). Putting waste in storage facilities like Yucca would be an even safer location that would limit decaying waste to one location. Any of these three methods would be very successful with public support. Educating the masses about how beneficial the nuclear power would be would solve all of the public’s problems with the waste. Changing the citizens of Georgia’s minds on nuclear power is much more attainable than safely launching the nuclear waste into space or any of the other suggestions out there. In this case, the solution is already there, but the public needs to accept it.


  1. Adams, R. (2014, September 5). Is it really necessary to have a deep geologic repository for used nuclear fuel? – Atomic Insights. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from atomicinsights.com
  2. Nuclear Fuel Cycle. (2013). Retrieved September 23, 2016, from energy.gov/ne/nuclear-fuel-cycle
  3. Shughart, W. F., II. (2014, October 1). Guest Commentary: Why Doesn’t U.S. Recycle Nuclear Fuel? Retrieved September 25, 2016, from www.forbes.com
  4. Top 11 Facts About Yucca Mountain. (2015, April 8). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from www.nei.org
  5. Touran, N. (n.d.). What is Nuclear waste? Retrieved from https://whatisnuclear.com/waste.html
  6. Uranium Market & U.S. Uranium Sources. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.virginiauranium.com/uranium-101/uranium-market-u-s-uranium-sources

Cite this paper

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste. (2021, Nov 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/nuclear-energy-and-nuclear-waste/

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