Deutsche Welle (Engl)

The Nuclear Waste Lie

Natur und Umwelt45 Minuten 

The last German nuclear power plant will be taken off grid by 2022 at the latest. By then, 29,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste will have been created. To this day nobody knows what to do with it.

Scientists want to set up underground repositories for this radioactive waste: safe for a million years, protected against nuclear catastrophes, climate change, terrorist attacks and decaying casks. Is that possible? The search for the perfect final resting place resembles the search for a panacea. This place doesn't just have to defy every conceivable natural disaster, from earthquakes to meteorite impacts; it also has to withstand any creeping environmental change and still remain secure once all the nuclear waste containers have decomposed. But this final repository should also be accessible from the outside, to allow for the recovery of rotten casks if the worst comes to the worst. Finally, politicians want these final repositories to have the full support of the public. Is this desperate search for a perfect resting place just a fantasy? Is the term 'final repository' an illusion? Or is the concept of a repository fit for a million years merely a political construct to avoid making a decision in the foreseeable future? Are politicians demanding things that are scientifically impossible?

What will happen when this storage site is actually there and full? How do we plan to monitor the waste for a million years - with instruments that will last no more than a hundred, based on the current state of our technology? Or should we just bury it all and let it grow over? In Finland and Sweden, scientists, politicians and citizens are already a good deal further ahead on the issue of nuclear waste storage, but they too haven't found the ultimate solution for eternity. Scientists and even nuclear-power opponents are now demanding that Germany give up on the idea of a storage site good for a million years. Instead, they say, the country should look for temporary sites, as that could accelerate the search for such an ideal location. This scientific documentary debunks the fairy tale of the 'safe' final storage site and asks, "given what we know today, what is the least of all evils in dealing with our nuclear waste?""


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