Imagine this cube is a big 1 metre squared – the nuclear waste proposed for the dump lined up in one metre cubes would stretch from Carlisle to Paris and a third of the way back…
If you are not out already and enjoying yourself at Solfest Music Festival – the hottest music festival ever (or even if you are – take half an hour out!!)
Join us in Carlisle on Saturday 25th August from 10.30am Radiation Free Lakeland will be providing the only chance for the public to vote whether or not they want a nuke dump under Cumbria. Before the point of no return and the “most promising” site is chosen.
Following the Nirex NO in 1997 this question should not even be asked of Cumbria. The new deal now includes plutonium and spent fuel that “could go critical but it wouldn’t matter” so says Alun Ellis the ‘repository manager’ – this would give a whole new meaning to Solfest’s warm friendly atmosphere.
As well as the (only) public vote we will have a cube with dimensions of 1m to illustrate some mind boggling facts…
1 million cubic metres placed in a row as cubes would produce a wall of radioactive waste that is 1 metre high, 1 metre wide, and 1 million metres long.
As 1,000 metres = 1 kilometre, that wall would be an astonishing 1,000 km, or 620 miles in length.
That is a wall of just the radioactive waste material itself, excluding containers.
These are the simple maths of that :-
1,000 mtrs = 1 km = 0.62 mile
1 million mtrs = 1,000 km = 620 miles
To put that in perspective, these are some examples of what could be built using 1 million cubes, each measuring 1 cubic metre.
CARLISLE TO PARIS in a straight line is 762.67 km, or 474 miles.
A wall measuring 1 metre high, 1 metre wide, and 1,000 kilometres long could start in Carlisle, go all the way to Paris, and continue for a further 146 miles beyond Paris.
That wall would be 620 miles long.
A HUGE HADRIANS WALL
Hadrian’s Wall is 120 km or 73 miles long.
Divide 1,000 by 120 = 8.33
Our 1 million cubes could cross the country from Bowness-on Solway to Segedunum, Wallsend, 8 times and still leave 40 cubes unused.
We could therefore build a new Hadrian’s wall that is 1 metre wide, 8 metres high (or 26 feet), and 73 miles long – all made from radioactive waste material.
26 feet may be approaching the height of an average 2 storied house, or certainly up to the roof gutters.
JUMBO JET, CONCORD AND SPACE STATION CATCHALL
If we concentrate our building efforts vertically instead of horizontally, we could enter the Space Race.
Jumbo Jet cruising altitude 39,000 ft or 12,000 mtrs – 12km.
Concorde cruising altitude 56,000 ft or 17,000 mtrs – 17km
International Space Station 220 miles or 354 km orbit from Earth.
Stack our 1 million cubes one on top of the other, and we can build a column that is 1 metre square and 1,000 km or 620 miles high.
The International Space Station would crash into our coulmn just over a third of the way up it. Cruising Jumbo jets and Concorde would crash very close to the bottom at less than 20 km up.
Divide 1,000 km by 12 km (83.33) and we see that we could build a wall 1 metre wide, 83 mtrs long, and 12 km high and impede passing Jumbo’s at an altitude of 39,000 feet. That would be a wall considerably wider than a football pitch with the top barely visible with the human eye from sea level.
Divide 1,000 km by 17 km (58.82) for a wall 58 mtrs long that would impede Concorde at 56,000 feet. The top of that could disappear from view. Those mind-boggling theoretical structures would be literally put in the shade if we decided to join the Space race.
Divide 1,000 km by 354 km (2.82) and we could build a wall 1 mtr by 2 mtrs, and 354 km high and impede the passing International Space Station. We would still have enough cubes left over to build a 3rd column 292 km high, just 62 km short of 354 km.
All of those walls or vertical columns would consist of radioactive material, and nothing else.
SURFACE AREA AND CONTAMINATION
It is estimated that the decay of medium activity waste can take 10 and 20 thousand years+ before it reaches safer levels.
Higher activity waste need to be isolated from humans and the environment for millions of years.
Containment of the waste will consist of copper, stainless steel, cast iron, grout, cement and rock, or combinations of those.
Far shorter periods of decay and decomposition can be expected for copper, stainless steel, cast iron, and grout, so radioactive leakage is expected.
(confirmed in a Webcast video on the MRWS web site, approximately 38 minutes into the video).
The surface area of radioactive waste material exposed by leakage will depend on the size of individual packages of the waste.
For example, a 1 cubic metre package of waste will have 6 sides, each measuring 1 square metre for a total surface area of 6 square metres.
Cut that block in half, and we gain 2 extra sides for a total surface area of 8 square metres.
Put 2 cubes together, and we lose 2 sides for a total surface area of 10 square metres for our 2 cubes instead of 12.
Our wall from Carlisle through Paris would have a surface area of 4 times 1 million square metres plus 1 square metre on each end for a total surface area of 4,000 002 sq mtrs.
1 million individual cubes would give us 6,000,000 sq mtrs.
We could take that 6,000,000 sq mtrs surface area and lay a theoretical track 1 metre wide, with a length of 6 million metres or 6,000 km or 3,720 miles.
If we could ride a motorbike along our 1 metre track at a speed of 100 km per hour (62 m.p.h.), it would take for 60 hours or 2.5 days to get from one end of the track to the other.
If that 1 metre wide track was wet all the way, that may give some idea of the surface area that could contribute to radioactive contamination if all containers deteriorated during the next 10,000 to 200,000 years
The only man-made containers that seem to have survived undamaged during the 2,000 years since the time of Jesus Christ and the Romans, have been made of gold. 2,000 years is only one 5th of the minimum estimated decay period of medium waste and one 50th of the minimum decay period for high activity waste.
Those promoting this radioactive waste repository project may point to these mind boggling statistics, (based on very basic schoolboy maths), as scaremongering. Cumbrians have every right to feel scared of such a vast amount of radioactive waste material.
If the MRWS volunteering process goes ahead, the equivalent amount of radioactive waste material of those absolutely GIGANTIC and mind-boggling propotions could be placed below the hills of Cumbria during the next 100 years, and that is only the first phase of the proposed repository development.