Then there's the problem of burying the material, a long and complex process that involves digging repositories and making them impenetrable to make sure the plutonium remains out of reach as it slowly passes its radioactive half-life
of 24,000 years.
Experts at the Environment Agency fear that future generations could suffer from waste with a long radioactive half-life
leaking into the Irish Sea as the pace of climate change quickens and its effects become less predictable.
D'Agata has a particular knack for penetrating to the emotional core of man and place with repetition, the imagistic inverts of radioactive half-life
. The Stratosphere is one mountain which echoes throughout the book; the other is the proposed nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, in Nye County, Nevada, a "squat bulge in the middle of the desert, essentially just debris from a bigger, stronger mountain that erupted millions of years ago and hurled its broken pieces into piles across the earth." Any mindful or honest exploration of the issue of nuclear waste storage eventually mutates into a vertiginous admission of the undeniable insignificance of humans on the scale of geologic time.
Unfortunately, the radioactive half-life
of these products remains too short and the production yields too low to allow any one cyclotron to serve an area larger than a few hundred kilometres.
The radioactive half-life
of plutonium contaminated waste is 27,000 years and the Government estimates it will soon have 500,000 tonnes of higher level nuclear waste it has no home for, even if it never builds another nuclear power station.
Its radioactive half-life
is 4.5 billion years, which means that we will be dealing with radiation from DU for the rest of life on the planet.
Iodine-131 has a radioactive half-life
of only about eight days, however, and the risk of harmful exposure decreased rapidly after each bomb test.
The term "depleted uranium" is misleading, however, because this material, which contains the highly toxic U-238 isotope, has a radioactive half-life
of at least 4.5 billion years.
As an example of how the method would work, consider technetium-99, with a radioactive half-life
of 210,000 years.
Experts are concerned that future generations could suffer from waste with a long radioactive half-life
leaking into the Irish Sea as climate changes and its effects are more difficult to predict.