之前日本打算把核废水排入海中的新闻引起了当地居民和国际社会上很多国家的反对。即使是经过多番处理，废水中仍然会有核辐射，所以，人们对此还是非常谨慎小心的。核能利用好，是个巨大的能源宝库。然而处理不好，则会给人类带来不可挽回的灾难。在英国，也有一堆核废料，而如何处理这些潜在的威胁，将成为英国政府迫切需要解决的问题。本文选自《新科学家》杂志 (New Scientist) ，本文可做拓展阅读。如何处理，在哪里处理不仅需要科学家的研究，更需要当地民众的参与。同时更需要政府能够与民众建立起信心，实现核废料安全的处理。文中红色部分可着重记忆。 政府和科学界人士则认为最好的方式就是深埋核废料。
The UK has produced radioactive waste since the dawn of the nuclear age some 70 years ago. The waste comes from nuclear power stations, medical and industrial facilities and the defense program.Some of the higher activity waste will take tens of thousands of years to decay and iscurrently stored above ground in around 20 secure facilities, which cost billions of pounds to maintain.Within the next 100 years, the total amount is expected to fill a volume of almost 250,000 cubic metres– around three times the size of the Royal Albert Hall.“There has been a lot of consideration about what to do with the waste,” says Cherry Tweed, a materials scientist and chief scientist for geological disposal at Nuclear Waste Services, the government organisation charged with disposing of the waste.In the early 2000s, the UK government set out to find the solution and agreed ondisposing of the material in a geological disposal facility (GDF). There is international consensus here – other facilities have already been built in theUS, and construction of another is underway in Finland. Plans are also afoot in France, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada.The facility would be designed to securely lock away the waste, protecting future generations against any radiation hazard and freeing them from the commitment to deal with it themselves.A key part of the plan is to find a community willing to host this facility and several in Cumbria and Lincolnshire are currently discussing the possibility.This approach raises numerous questions and New Scientist recently assembleda panel of experts to discuss these points in an online debate. At issue wasthe science behind a GDF, how we can be sure the material will be safe and what it means for a community to be willing to host such a facility.A key part of this process is building trust between nuclear operators and localpeople. Here the UK can learn from the Finnish experience, where a GDF iscurrently under construction in Olkiluoto, in Eurajoki, western Finland, home toone of the country’s two nuclear power plants. The facility is being built 400 metres underground and waste disposal is set to begin by 2025.Community trust in the nuclear operators is vital, said Vesa Lakaniemi, mayor of Eurajoki and one of the invited panellists. The region has hosted a nuclear power plant for over 40 years and the operator has been open and communicative with locals over that time, he said.“I can truly say that in this area people know much more about nuclear systems than for example in the eastern part of Finland,” he said. Trust follows from this kindof ongoing communication, added Lakaniemi. “That trust has developed over four decades.”Operators in the UK may find developing this trust more of a challenge, said Penny Harvey, professor of social anthropology at The University of Manchester and a member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management which advises the UK government.“Unlike Finland, in Britain we don’t have such a great history to draw on,” she said.“There’s been much more distrust possibly of these kinds of processes.”An important part of building trust will be demonstrating the safety of the proposed GDF. The facility will receive higher activity radioactive waste, which makes up around six per cent of nuclear waste in the UK.To prepare it for disposal, this waste is encased in a solid glassy or cement-like material. This will be put in a metal container and encased with a clay-like material.“Finally, there is the geology that the geological disposal facility will be placed in, which also has a function in the safety of the overall facility,” said Kath Morris, professor at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester, and director of the research support office at Nuclear Waste Services. “It’s the Russian Doll idea of multiple packages.”Of course, there is always the potential for accidents. In 2014, a geological disposal facility in New Mexico in the US experienced a radiation leak when a container ruptured.