Renewable technologies can’t escape the issue of waste management

February 3, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent article from Deseret News looks at the stark reality of hazardous waste piling up from the green energy revolution. The lengthy article, "The dark side of ‘green energy’ and its threat to the nation’s environment," was written by News reporter Amy Joi O’Donoghue and is based on an Environmental Protection Agency briefing from the Trump administration. The briefing, issued in January, outlines the difficulties the United States will face in recycling and safely disposing of the materials used for green energy technologies.

Green energy’s looming waste problem: While the current fervor around the globe is to decarbonize as quickly as possible using wind and solar, the energy industry has yet to fully tackle the long-term waste stream for these systems. Many supporters think that renewable energy equals no waste, when in reality all energy-producing technologies produce waste that should be managed responsibly. That includes solar panels and wind turbines, which have their own environmental hazards such as toxic metals, oil, fiberglass, and other materials. Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator at the time, said, “Without a strategy for their end-of-life management, so-called green technologies like solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and windmills will ultimately place [an] unintended burden on our planet and economy.”

IAEA supports discharge of treated water at Daiichi

April 6, 2020, 9:21AMRadwaste Solutions

An International Atomic Energy Agency team of experts said in a review published on April 2 that the two options for the controlled disposal of treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are “technically feasible.” A Japanese advisory subcommittee outlined the two options—vapor release and discharge to the sea—for the water that is being stored at the plant following the 2011 accident.

A simple, revolutionary approach to waste packaging

By Rob Weber, Projects and Proposals Manager, Central Research Laboratories

Addressing Current Problems

Bag-out operations can pose many issues to the TRU waste handling and disposal process. Among these are operator and facility safety, operational time, excess waste volume, and increased shipping costs to a waste repository.

Historically, removing hazardous waste from gloveboxes has involved using bags for primary containment. This bag-out method can prove tedious, repetitive, and time-consuming to ensure it follows all required safeguards to transfer waste without breaching containment. Layers of bags, yards of tape, and multiple filters are all added to the waste stream to transfer hazardous waste safely from the glovebox into a disposal drum.