One of the disadvantages of nuclear power is the problem of waste disposal, and the enormous costs both of building a plant, and safely dismantling it about thirty years later. From Reuters News Service…
IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] Director General Yukiya Amano this week said international safety standards needed to be strengthened but the agency was not a “nuclear safety watchdog,” stressing safety was the responsibility of individual countries.
But a senior former IAEA official, Olli Heinonen, said in a blog comment that Fukushima “should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate and strengthen the role of the IAEA” in boosting nuclear safety.
Amano’s safety report for last year noted that of the 441 reactors now in operation around the world, many were built in the 1970s and 1980s, with an average lifespan of about 35 years. The Fukushima plant also dates back to the 1970s.
“Their decommissioning peak will occur from 2020 to 2030 which will present a major managerial, technological, safety and environmental challenge to those states engaged in nuclear decommissioning,” it said.
“The need for national and international mechanisms for early planning, adequate funding and long-term strategies applies not only to decommissioning, but also to radioactive waste management and spent fuel management.”
Giving no details about which reactors faced closure, it also said some countries had started to consider extending operations of their nuclear plants beyond the planned timeframe.
The United States has most operating nuclear reactors in the world with 104 units, followed by France with 58 and Japan with 54, according to the IAEA’s website.
In this economy, in this political climate, who is going to sell the notion of paying dearly to ensure that a used up nuclear plant will not be a permanent hazard?