Radioactive Waste

Essay by cheaterboyzHigh School, 11th grade December 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.0

Pollution is a hazard that comes in many different forms. There is nuclear pollution, pollution from radioactive materials and many more. The type of pollution I am going to write about is radioactive waste. I am going to explain the processing, storage, disposal, characterization, transportation, and pollutants of radioactive waste. The process radioactive waste goes through is long.


Radioactive waste is processed for economic and safety reasons. Economic reasons include reducing the material or recovering a resource from it. Safety reasons include reducing the radioactivity by smothering it or making it a more solid form. After the items are processed they must be stored somewhere.


According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, storage is "the placement of waste in a nuclear facility where isolation, environmental protection and human control are provided with the intent that the waste will be retrieved at a later time.'' Radioactive waste is usually stored for one of the following reasons:

to give them time to decay into less radioactive materials

to temporarily hold them until they are ready to be disposed

to temporarily hold them until processing

Depending on why the materials are being stored, the form of the material, the amount of time it's being stored, and the radioactivity levels, may vary.

If the radioactive chemicals are being stored to decay, they will be released after they have decayed and their radioactivity levels have decreased. The radioactivity level decreases by half with each half life the material goes through. Chemicals with shorter half-lives can be released sooner into the environment than materials that start the same size with the same radioactivity. The process of decay can take a few years, to thousands of years before it is disposed or released. Eventually all radioactivity will decay.


The International Atomic Energy Agency...