Nuclear poweraccounted for just 11% of the worlds electricity production in 2014 yet nuclearreactors emit zero greenhouse gases and is around 8000 times more efficientthan fossil fuels, which generated 62% of the worlds electricity in 2014.
Nuclearpower is also more reliable than other finite sources as there is enoughUranium to last 70-80 years. Power plants can also run interrupted for over a yearand production is not dependent on the climate. Considering global warming is apressing issue and the recent Paris agreement one would assume that nuclearpower would increase but that is not the case. Taking all this into accountthere must be other reasons for nuclear power not being the most common way togenerate electricity. The biggest issue linked with nuclear power is waste.Nuclear waste is so difficult to deal with due to how long it remainshazardous. There are 5 main typesof nuclear waste.
The first being naturally occurring radionuclides which arerejected during the mining, milling and refining of fuel. Actinides are formedfrom neutron absorption in the fuel rods of the reactors. Fission products fromthe fission of Uranium and Plutonium in the fuel rods forming lighter nuclides.Solid radionuclides are also formed when neutrons are absorbed by the reactorstructure forming isotopes like iron-59 and cobalt-60. Finally, gaseous and liquidradionuclides are formed by neutron absorption in and around the reactor theseinclude tritium.
Waste from the miningprocess causes little harm as it normally has a low radioactivity and so isdisposed normally. The slurry produced in the milling process contains all theuranium daughter products and about 1 gram per 1000 tonnes of tailings. So,there would be 300g of radium 226 present in the waste for every 1000 tonnes ofuranium produced. The slurry is stored in a basin where solids stay behind adam and liquid overflows to a waste treatment lagoon. The radium is thenprecipitated out with barium sulfate and the remaining liquid is then drainedand discharged into natural water systems. During the refining process, mostwaste is again low in radioactivity and normally handled on site.
Hexafluorideis used to refine the uranium that was mined, calcium fluoride ash is producedand is drummed and buried in a suitable place. Refinery’s often have largequantities of liquid waste which is stored in ponds and the radiative sludgesare stored underground.