ARE nations duty-bound to deal with their own nuclear waste, or do we need a transnational solution? It is a pertinent question. Germany, despite decisively ditching nuclear power five years ago, still can’t decide what to do with the leftovers. Anti-nuclear activists there are vowing to block the return of spent fuel from the country’s reactors, being reprocessed in France and the UK. They have also boycotted a parliamentary commission scheduled to report later this year on a final resting place for plutonium-rich waste, which needs keeping out of harm’s way for tens of thousands of years (see “Radioactive waste dogs Germany despite abandoning nuclear power“). Their campaign may succeed, but only temporarily by dodging the big issue and saddling other countries with German waste. Perhaps the real problem is narrow nationalism. Does it really make sense to insist that waste be disposed of within the country that produced it? Maybe a few international repositories would be better. Germany is entitled to abandon nuclear power, but it cannot duck its responsibility to clean up. With nuclear waste piling up in more than 30 nations, the quandary could be a useful opportunity for the nuclear family to sit down together and sort out the mess.
New Scientist 3rd Feb 2016 read more »