The Immortal Radioactive Waste And The Hazardous Impact

Posted on June 11, 2012 in unEarthed

By Bhawani Sahoo:

We all know that nuclear power station produces electric energy while radioactive sources help to diagnose and treat diseases, and helps to monitor various industrial processes. In total, Nuclear Energy is a boon for India. But what about its adverse effects on our lives and the environment?

Nuclear waste, sometimes called ’spent fuel’, is dangerously radioactive and remain so for thousands of years. When this waste comes out of nuclear reactor it is so toxic that its direct exposure can even take away your life. Not only this, loss of vegetation, loss of animal and aquatic life- as nuclear power plants pulls water from the ocean in which fishes are captured and killed. After using this water it is returned back to the ocean which is 25 degree warmer; the warmer water kills fishes and plant life.

Nuclear power is considered as a ‘clean source of energy’ because it does not release carbon-di-oxide during its operation but this greenhouse gas is emitted during building and running of nuclear plants and also transportation of radioactive waste causes emission, all of which pollutes our environment.

Radioactive waste can remain active for thousands of years; there are several issues with the burying of radioactive waste. One of the most famous incidents known is the “Mayapuri Radiological accident”, in which 220 research irradiators owned by Delhi University were sold to a scrap metal dealer. The workers at the scrap yard were unaware of the hazardous nature of this radioactive waste, which ultimately led to their death. The radioactive load is still speculated to be buried somewhere below the university grounds.

The removal of Jaitiapur forest reserve for setting up of nuclear power plant and various other incidents highlights the inefficiency of our government in the enforcement of environmental laws in our country. Contrary to the belief of people who think that nuclear source of energy has led to an all-round development of Indian technology, they have neglected the fact that nuclear waste from different sources are ruining our life and environment at a great speed. Radioactive waste management can only be tackled by strict implementation and enforcement of environmental laws. But in India it seems that no solution has been offered for the management of radioactive waste; it is better to make less use of it and just opt for renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind or geo-thermal energy.

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Yes, nuclear energy is fraught with many problems and instead of simply being a clean energy, it is today a corporate sector so powerful that the Indian govt regularly kow tows to it at the cost of its people’s welfare. This continues in the case of the Kundakulam nuclear project as well where the govt went to the extreme step of charging the anti-nuclear power protestors as being seditious people who are against the state. Ironically, it is the govt who is against the state’s welfare in many cases.


Water is used as a coolant in Nuclear reactor. After use, that water is not adequate for drinking but it is not something extremely dangerous and secondly it is never poured back directly into the ocean. Hot steam is used to rotate turbine and further produce energy. After that water is first treated and then dumped. Nuclear waste is a problem but there are ways to overcome this problem. There are specially designed sophisticated Nuclear waste treatment and management techniques employed.
Nuclear energy is the future. We can’t rely on Coal and petroleum. Solar energy can also be used but it is not a complete solution.

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