ENERGY Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s announcement that the procurement of 9.6GW of nuclear power will begin at the end of September demonstrates the government’s commitment to its nuclear plans despite opposition. The opposition has almost exclusively focused on the potential financial costs of the procurement as they relate to the build of nuclear plants, and on the relative costs of electricity produced by nuclear power compared to other forms of generation. Surprisingly little has been said about the substantial additional costs of managing the radioactive waste that will be produced by new nuclear plants. This waste comes in three forms, categorised according to health risk. While low-and intermediate-level wastes present considerable dangers to humans, the major problem of waste disposal at nuclear power plants relates to how to effectively dispose of so-called high-level waste, largely in the form of spent fuel rods. These spent fuel rods contain extremely high levels of r...

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