Smaller Reactors May Still Have a Big Nuclear Waste Problem

Lindsay Krall decided to study nuclear waste out of a love for the arcane. Figuring how to bury radioactive atoms isn’t exactly simple—it takes a blend of particle physics, careful geology and engineering, and a high tolerance for reams of regulations. But the trickiest ingredient of all is time. Nuclear waste from today’s reactors will take thousands of years to become something safer to handle. So any solution can’t require too much stewardship. It’s gotta just work, and keep working for generations. By then, the utility that split those atoms won’t exist, nor will the company that designed the reactor. Who knows? Maybe the United States won’t exist either.


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