With Fukushima and Chernobyl in the news there has been alot of interest in nuclear power and what happens to the spent materials that remain radioactive.
With so much in the media I want to start with a recent article on James L Acord as it was Acord who inspired me to study Nuclear technology and radiation http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028102.900-an-artist-who-had-a-radioactive-imagination.html This article is from the current NewScientist so too see the full article go to the library or the shops though if you put “acord” into the new scientist search engine there are
There has also been a film made about finland that was on more 4 called Nuclear Eternity http://www.channel4.com/programmes/nuclear-eternity/4od#3184793 which is available to watch on this link for 22 more days. The film is about a repository being built as Finland’s answer to Nuclear waste. Personally I was shocked by what some of what was said and outlined here, especially when they say they essentially waiting for the next ice age which should completely bury the waste. To me this dose not seem the most practical view. (Also, when researching Acord I found a few pieces online saying it was Acord who designed the sculptures shown in the film, however it was done for American secret services of some sort and I am yet to find hard evidence it was in fact Acord). There is also an article on the bbc website about Finland’s project http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4948378.stm and the World Nuclear Association group have some more statistical information http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf76.html and the guardians take http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/apr/24/nuclear-waste-storage .
This leads me to another article in this weeks New scientist(April 30th) on time. It would seem that there are a few different definitions of a year, depending on the area you study, and when two groups come together, geologists and chemists, to work on Nuclear half lives the final numbers don’t match. The article is called ” Push to define year sparks time war” http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20423-push-to-define-year-sparks-time-war.html the seconds difference may not seem like much, but when you start looking at 25,000 year half lives the seconds add up to make some quite different dates.
News on Fukushima seems to have stopped, Japan is trying to keep the status of the plant from the masses. The last few pieces I heard were around the place being as bad as Chernobyl . From the beginning as I watched the footage of the explosions, the radiation getting to food and across to America, effecting California(albeit very lightly compared to Japan) there are some sites with up to date info such as http://community.pachube.com/node/611#3d .
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12845304 – This is a piece about a few of the workers going to hospital. I wonder if this is just released to show something harmful happening with the plants, where as from my research I am certain that many of the workers who have been in and out of the plants since the tsunami will be developing medical problems over the coming months. I am sure that Japan will be ding their best to keep it as quiet as possible. Radiation damage can come in many forms, but can take time to show up and effect the body, simple sickness can take the form of hair loss and vomiting serious effects are cancers of various forms. I will keep researching this over the year ahead to see what information is actually available about this, if any.
I will continue my research and post about what I find.