Sky Captain wrote:
Even if a fuel cask fall of a high bridge, cracked open throwing peaces of fuel rods out would there be that much contamination as some people claim like thousands of people dying from radiation caused cancer. After all nuclear fuel is in solid form and in a such accident chunks of it would be probably thrown around but they would remain in the vicinity of a crash site. There might be some dust, but that`s only very minor amount.
For the most part it wouldn’t be that bad, just a couple hundred or thousand tons of earth would have to be hauled away as we did after several accidents with atomic bombs. However high bridges tend to run over waterways, and dropping a load of fuel rods into a river is a serious problem (abet, if the cask lands directly in the water, rather then say on a rock on the shoreline that should cushion its fall). It’s not going to kill thousands, in fact all odds say it will kill no one, but it could leave that waterway contaminated for a long time.
Still high level radioactive waste is inherently harder, and more importantly slower to clean up, so we could still be looking at thousands of people displaced for months. It’d get real expensive real quick. As it is some toxic spills have in fact taken months to clean up. Its not a trivial issue to deal with, but certainly its not going to kill us all.
Are you sure about that? Some high level waste is in liquid form and some is volatile. I'm not sure if it is still in that state by the time it makes it into the shipping casks though.
You get high level liquid nuclear waste from processes involved with fabricating and reprocessing nuclear fuel, but not from actually operating the reactors. The big armored casks in question are used for moving spent fuel from the reactors to storage or reprocessing sites. Since even the largest nuclear energy users only have a couple plants that make nuclear fuel, the problem of transporting and dealing with the liquid waste is a lot easier to deal with. Usually the elements in it have relatively short half lives, and it’s transported in numerous small containers.
The radioactive water from the primary coolant loop of a reactor is no big deal at all. Most of the elements in it are harmless after a matter of hours as long as the cladding on the nuclear fuel is intact. The cladding braking was a big problem in the early days of nuclear power, but not today.
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