The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Nuclear Waste Nightmare

Sep 4, 2017

According to a new report by a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, cleaning the nuclear waste created by a breeder reactor in Idaho will take many more decades than anticipated.

These breeder reactors are designed to convert non-fissionable uranium into fissionable plutonium, creating a plutonium fuel. The federal government presented this as a “wonder fuel” scheme that would solve their two problems in one shot: shortage of uranium as a fuel and need for plutonium for nuclear bombs. The government would pay the costs of such reactors’ development through tax-payer funds, and then transfer the technology to businesses so that the rich would profit from this breeder reactor scheme.

The Idaho reactor went into operation in 1964, and was shut down in 1994. The process was proved to be technologically too complex, very expensive, and excessively unsafe.

It created tons of highly radioactive waste, stored underground at the Idaho National Laboratory. Now, the government tells us that the available technology is not sufficient to clean up this highly dangerous waste.

Disasters are not new to the nuclear industry: A commercial reactor, Fermi, went into operation near Detroit, and suffered a partial core meltdown in 1966. An experimental reactor near the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area experienced fuel core damage in 1959, releasing radioactive iodine into the air and radioactive sodium into the ground water.

Clearly, these reactors and the waste they produce are a threat to life on this planet, now and into the future.

Disaster is guaranteed when profit is allowed to rule over the use of nuclear power and its waste products.