Radioactive Waste Essay

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Radioactive Waste in the 21st Century Radioactive waste has sparked controversy for the past 40 years. With the United States’ population steadily rising every year, we will be making more energy than ever; but do we have places to put all the waste? As new development and engineering using nuclear energy is coming out rapidly, we must take all issues into account.
Radioactive waste is most commonly described as the byproduct of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is when the nucleus of an atom is split into two or more to make energy. The process is completed either through natural decay or in a laboratory, and the purpose is to make energy. (1) Enriko Fermi was the first to achieve this in 1934. Enriko Fermi (1901-1954), was an Italian physicist
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According to the World Nuclear Association, low level waste “comprises some 90% of the volume but only 1% of the radioactivity of all radioactive waste.” (1) Hospitals, dentists’ offices, industries, and nuclear plants are some common examples of facilities producing low level radioactive waste. This usually comes in the form of rags, tools, uniforms, and equipment. Intermediate level waste on the other hand makes up about 7% of radioactive waste and 84% of radioactivity. (1) There is typically not a significant difference between intermediate level and low level waste, only that intermediate has a slightly higher radioactivity level. However, in the long run radioactive waste is usually separated into two categories; low and high level waste. Lastly, there is high level waste, which is the most dangerous as it contains 95% of all total radioactivity. (1) High level waste is usually identified as one of two sections; used reactor fuel and the waste that is separated from it. One way to put is “High level nuclear waste, simply put, is a spent fuel that is still present after it has been used inside of nuclear reactors.” (5) High level waste usually comes from nuclear plants themselves and is one of the most dangerous substances on …show more content…
In 2015, about 20% of the United States’ electricity was generated using nuclear fuel. (2) According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear fuel is used in the making of food and agriculture, insect control, food preservation, medicine, and water resources. (3) With food, radiation is used alongside other techniques to make some crops more weather hardy and resistant to pests. Insect control has also been largely successful in the radiation department. One major operation was the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) where a specific species of insect is sterilized through radiation on the eggs before they hatch. This was successful with the Medfly in Mexico in 1981, and then in two areas of Argentina in 1994- 95 (lasting only a year). (3) Food preservation commonly uses irrigation to sanitize the food, containers, and packaging. However, it is important to remember that this process does not make the food radioactive, a common misunderstanding. Nuclear energy is also widely used in the medical industry, from diagnosing patients using medical scanners to sterilizing medicine. It plays a huge role in our everyday lives. However, with all the energy we use, it is easy to forget that there are very serious side effects. Therefore, safely storing and disposing such wastes is

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