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The use of nuclear fuel for energy is gaining ground globally after years of stagnation but some of the old concerns still remain. Environmentalists and anti nuclear campaigners have a number of worries, most of which concern safety, the prevention of hazards from nuclear plants and the misuse of nuclear fuel by rogue states, international criminals and terrorist organisations.While their strident objections to the theory of nuclear energy being much cleaner and “greener” than energy derived from fossil fuels could be taken to be substantially incorrect, it would be presumptuous to brand all their worries about safety and the possibility of nuclear proliferation as facile and alarmist. Many of these concerns are still valid and do need attention.The two major areas that demand consideration are the disposal of nuclear waste and the reprocessing of spent fuel. The sustainability of nuclear power, the ability to make it work for long time frames and to think of it as a real long term solution to the global power issue depends upon obtaining an acceptable and workable solution to the problem of managing nuclear waste. Nuclear wastes are classified differently from other toxic residues and need to be kept safely for thousands of years, whereas the timeframe for non radioactive toxics of between 50 to 70 years is far less. Work is needed in this area on two fronts, the carrying out of continuous scientific research, needing significant governmental and institutional funding to find a solution to the storage problem, and a fresh look at regulatory laws to assess whether they can be revisited without compromising safety.


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