Nuclear Information Centre.

Inspired by Nuclear Waste Services (2022).  (Duration 2m 30s)

Nuclear Waste Services, Inspired by Nature, 2022 [Video Transcript].

When humanity faces a serious scientific challenge, we tend to look to the natural world around us for solutions. When we decided we wanted to fly, we started by looking at how birds did it, and when we wanted to go even higher, leaving our planet behind, the simple thistle inspired a revolutionary new way of fastening things down in zero gravity.

Human ingenuity allows us to build on what we see in nature, and come up with even better designs, and that’s how we plan to deal with the challenge of nuclear waste. All radioactive material naturally becomes less and less radioactive over time, but for higher activity radioactive waste and spent fuel from nuclear power stations could be over a hundred thousand years before it’s safe to be around.

Our challenge is to keep this higher activity waste safely isolated, untouched, undisturbed, for that whole time, just like this ancient creature was. Earthquakes and ice ages have past, and civilisations have risen and fallen since this creature died but see how even these intricate structures have remained intact, untouched, and undisturbed for all that time.

This is nature telling us that deep enough underground, in the right kinds of rock, is the solution to nuclear waste.

Science has perfected this idea. Combining stable rock with engineered barriers will safely isolate and contain the waste. Build on that basic concept and you’ve got a design that you can rely on. We call it a Geological Disposal Facility.

GDF – Inspired by nature, perfected by science.

Suggested further activities:

  • Come up with your own serious scientific challenge.
  • Look at some birds.
  • Imagine what the ancient creature might be.
  • Imagine how the ancient creature died.

Information last updated: Sun 20 Nov 2022