The Paradox of Nuclear Waste: Asset or Liability; Hazard or Benefit?

Dr. Harold McFarlane
Deputy Associate Laboratory Director
Idaho National Laboratory

Most of the public believes that nuclear waste is one of the difficult barriers to the efficient expansion nuclear energy.  Every country with a nuclear power program has problems siting waste disposal facilities.  Yet many different radioactive species, either the byproducts of nuclear fission or produced through deliberate irradiation of targets, are extremely valuable when concentrated in pure form and used in specific applications.  The same radioisotopes can be exceptionally expensive to stabilize, store and dispose.  This presentation uses plutonium-238 as an example of this paradox and touches on the multiple benefits of radiation science.  It also addresses some of the public misperceptions about nuclear waste.