On December 2, 1942, the first high level nuclear waste in the world was created. Three quarters of a century later there is still no permanent repository for such waste. We created immensely dangerous stuff with no thought as to how to safely dispose of it.
Irradiated nuclear fuel is among the most toxic materials on earth. The waste has to be isolated from the human environment for about half a million years, a period longer than our existence as a species. Our government has existed for a mere 230 years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been around for about 40 years. This is a matter of inter-generational ethics: we got 50 years of power, they get 500,000 years of waste.
This issue has arisen near San Onofre, the nuclear plant that CBG played an instrumental role in closing. It may not be operating any more, but the waste remains there, and Southern California Edison intends to bury the waste on the beach. A dumber idea is hard to imagine. Many in the area understandably want the waste out of Southern California, now, no matter what. CBG has been trying to play a constructive role in helping the community push for a safer alternative than what Edison is proposing, while not forcing the waste onto other communities, transferring the risk to them.
A permanent national repository that has the least chance possible of leakage must be established. In the meantime, the first rule is “do no harm.” The second is to not do unto others what you don’t wish to be done to oneself. Production of radioactive waste was a terrible sin; we should make no more of it, and beg forgiveness of future generations.