Waste From Solar Panels: 300 Times That of Nuclear Power

Note: The title of the post was changed at 5:12 PM CDT, June 29, 2017.  The original title was “Toxic Waste From Solar Panels: 300 Times That of Nuclear Power.”  Please see addendum for an explanation.

Guest post by David Middleton

Are We Headed for a Solar Waste Crisis?

June 28, 2017 by Mark Nelson

Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a stark warning: the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces every year will rise from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the nation has no plan for safely disposing of it.

Neither does California, a world leader in deploying solar panels. Only Europe requires solar panel makers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their lives.

All of which begs the question: just how big of a problem is solar waste?

Environmental Progress investigated the problem to see how the problem compared to the much more high-profile issue of nuclear waste.

We found:

  • Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants.
  • If solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (52 meters), while the solar waste would reach the height of two Mt. Everests (16 km).
  • In countries like China, India, and Ghana, communities living near e-waste dumps often burn the waste in order to salvage the valuable copper wires for resale. Since this process requires burning off the plastic, the resulting smoke contains toxic fumes that are carcinogenic and teratogenic (birth defect-causing) when inhaled.

The study defines as toxic waste the spent fuel assemblies from nuclear plants and the solar panels themselves, which contain similar heavy metals and toxins as other electronics, such as computers and smartphones.


By Jemin Desai and Mark Nelson

Jemin Desai is an EP Fellow and a student at UC Berkeley. Mark Nelson is EP Senior Researcher.

Energy Collective

Piling on a bit here… Nuclear waste can easily be safely disposed of:



Unlimited Release

Printed July 2009

Deep Borehole Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste

Patrick V. Brady, Bill W. Arnold, Geoff A. Freeze, Peter N. Swift, Stephen J. Bauer, Joseph L.  Kanney, Robert P. Rechard, Joshua S. Stein

Prepared by

Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185 and Livermore, California 94550


Preliminary evaluation of deep borehole disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel indicates the potential for excellent long-term safety performance at costs competitive with mined repositories. Significant fluid flow through basementrock is prevented, in part, by low permeabilities, poorly connected transport pathways, and overburden self-sealing. Deep fluids also resist vertical movement because they are density stratified. Thermal hydrologic calculations estimate the thermal pulse from emplaced waste to be small (less than 20° C at 10 meters from the borehole, for less than a few hundred years), and to result in maximum total vertical fluid movement of ~100 m. Reducing conditions will sharply limit solubilities of most dose-critical radionuclides at depth, and high ionic strengths of deep fluids will prevent colloidal transport.


DOE estimates that 109,300 metric tons heavy metal (MTHM) of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel – primarily commercial spent nuclear fuel (CSNF), but also DOE spent nuclear fuel (DSNF), and high-level waste glass (HLWG) – will need to be disposed of in the US (the projected US HLW and SNF inventory is summarized in Appendix A).,Deep borehole disposal, characterization and excavation costs should scale linearly with waste inventory: small inventories require fewer boreholes; large inventories require more boreholes. Not needing a specially engineered waste package would also lower overall borehole disposal costs. Both aspects might make borehole disposal attractive for smaller national nuclear power efforts (having an inventory of 10,000 MTHM or less). In the US, the 70,000 MTHM of waste currently proposed for Yucca Mountain could be accommodated in about 600 deep boreholes (assuming each deep borehole had a 2 km long waste disposal zone that contained approximately 400 vertically stacked fuel assemblies). The remainder of the projected inventory of 109,300 MTHM could be fit into an additional 350 or so boreholes.

Because crystalline basement rocks are relatively common at 2-5 km depth (See Figure 2; also see O’Brien et al. 1979; Heiken et al. 1996), the US waste disposal burden might be shared by shipping waste to regional borehole disposal facilities. If located near existing waste inventories and production, shipping would be minimized. A disposal length of ~2km, and holes spaced 0.2km apart suggests the total projected US inventory could be disposed in several borehole fields totaling ~30 square kilometers.

Petroleum drilling costs have decreased to the point where boreholes are now routinely drilled to multi-kilometer depths. Research boreholes in Russia and Germany have been drilled to 8-12 km. The drilling costs for 950 deep boreholes to dispose of the entire 109,300 MTHM inventory, assuming a cost of $20 million per borehole (see Section 3.1), would be ~ $19 billion. Very rough estimates of other costs are $10 billion for associated site characterization, performance assessment analysis, and license application, $20 billion for disposal operations, monitoring, and decommissioning, $12 billion for ancillary program activities, and $10 billion for transportation, resulting in a total life-cycle cost for a hypothetical deep borehole disposal program of $71 billion (in 2007 dollars). Although there are significant uncertainties in the cost estimates for deep borehole disposal presented here, the estimated total life-cycle cost may be significantly lower than the estimated total cost of Yucca Mountain. Note in particular the lower construction/operation and transportation outlays that borehole disposal would allow.

This document outlines a technical and performance assessment analysis of deep borehole disposal of US HLW and SNF.


Sandia National Laboratories, 2009


Left: Deep Borehole Disposal Schematic.  Right: Depth the Crystalline Basement Map

This is worth repeating:

The drilling costs for 950 deep boreholes to dispose of the entire 109,300 MTHM inventory, assuming a cost of $20 million per borehole (see Section 3.1), would be ~ $19 billion. Very rough estimates of other costs are $10 billion for associated site characterization, performance assessment analysis, and license application, $20 billion for disposal operations, monitoring, and decommissioning, $12 billion for ancillary program activities, and $10 billion for transportation, resulting in a total life-cycle cost for a hypothetical deep borehole disposal program of $71 billion (in 2007 dollars).

$71 billion (in 2007 dollars) to safely and permanently dispose of the entire inventory of 109,300 metric tons heavy metal (MTHM) of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel.

That would be $84 billion in 2017 USD.

According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017, from 1965-2016, US nuclear generating stations produced 26,386 TWh of electricity (26.4 trillion kWh).

$84 billion divided by 26.4 trillion kWh is $0.0032/kWh… 1/3 of one penny per kWh to dispose of the entire inventory of high-level nuclear waste.

If solar panels and the rest of the toxic waste associated with solar installations could be compacted in such a manner that they could be disposed of in deep boreholes, the cost would be greater than $1.00/kWh (300 * $0.0032 = $0.96 plus the cost of compacting the panels, etc.).

So… Why would anyone in their right mind prefer solar over nuclear power?

As if that wasn’t bad enough for solar…


Wind breaks even, solar sucks wind, gas kicks @$$ and nukes finish s strong second. Real Clear Energy.

While I personally don’t ascribe much value to the reduction of carbon emissions, the advocates of solar power probably do… Yet most of them oppose nuclear power and/or natural gas.

  1. Solar = 1/4 the availability of nuclear.
  2. Solar = $500,000/MW less valuable than nuclear in emssions reduction.
  3. Solar = 300 times the toxic waste per MWh compared to nuclear.


Addendum: June 29, 2017 5:00 PM CDT

The Energy Collective article doesn’t clearly distinguish “waste” from “toxic waste.”  So, wherever the phrase “toxic waste” appears in this post, it probably should have been written as “toxic and/or other waste products.”


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Stop it with your facts!

Patrick Vu

I don’t know anything about the waste from solar panels. What I do know is it saves me $240 a month in electricity and having it for three months so far, I also have a credit of $280 from SCE.

David A

Paid for by folk likely earning less then you. Your hands in their pickets.


Ain’t it great to get other people’s money.

Marilynn B.

Although our wooded site doesn’t make photovoltaics practical, we’ve had solar water heating for forty years. Maintenance has cost very little, but we’ve saved a bundle of cash while using fewer energy resources than standard gas or electric. I guess when our four decades old panels finally have to be ditched someone will come up with stats on how we’re contributing to global pollution… that is, if anyone is left after continual exposure to radioactive particles from nuclear meltdowns.
P.S. David A & oldfossil, who do you think is paying the price for those aging nuclear rustbuckets providing YOU with hot water and power?

Patrick MJD

“Patrick Vu June 30, 2017 at 1:05 am”
Yes. In Australia, people like you are subsidised by people like me.

@oldfossil – It is great getting other people’s money. You have to understand the people doing this have guns. You can take the high moral ground and pay absurd energy prices or you can take the money they’re stealing from the poor and laugh all the way to the bank.
I didn’t vote for these folks. I’ve never understood the pathological fear of nuclear energy that “the poor” seem so obsessed by. But I won’t be taken advantage of either.
If “the poor” have a problem with me taking their money, it’s on them. They vote just like everyone else. There’s an old saying about getting the government you deserve, and getting it good ‘n hard. That isn’t my problem.


The only thing surprising about this post is the fact that anyone would be surprised by it. Maybe the 300-1 ratio could be a surprise, but I thought it would be worse quite frankly.

I wouldn’t give a lot of credibility to sources that refer to manmade toxic materials as toxins. In my experience such sources tend to exaggerate things or repeat exaggerated figures, in addition to being unaware that such usage of the word toxin is incorrect.

A silicon solar cell that is not soldered with leaded solder does not contain nsignificant amounts of toxic heavy metals or toxic anything else. Although not considered edible if ground, they can be disposed of in regular trash.

David, you are a reasonably intelligent person…. “One company uses nitrogen triflouride, a potent greenhouse gas”

Now, please go find a solar panel, and point out to me where in that panel the nitrogen trifluoride is stored.

“That many solar panels contain lead and cadmium, which are being phased out by computer manufacturers”

WOW, oh WOW….when did computer manufactures start making solar panels????????????/

Dave, you posted: :the solar panels themselves, which contain similar heavy metals and toxins”

You explain it, if you can’t stop posting stuff you don’t read.

steven F

Lead was once used on all electronics. It was part o the solder used to make the electrical connections. The EU implemented strong led restrictions years ago and most solders today contain no lead. Now solder is used to make the electrical connections in a panel. But most companies due to the size of the EU market and lead restrictions in many other nations stopped using lead based solders. But I would not be surprised that if some companies in china might be still using it.
In any case most of the materials in solar panels are sealed between two pieces of glass with an aluminum frame and silicon rubber sealant. Solar panels in use will not release any toxins into the environment. And if they are recycled properly will not release any. This is very different then nuclear waste. With nuclear wast you cannot recycle cesium, strontium, iodine or many of the other radio active materials for hundreds or even many thousands of years You can burn off some of the wast like plutonium on the reactor buy any others will still be around for a very long period of time.


You are quite wrong if you think that lead is no longer used in most electronics. Commercial products like TV and radios … maybe. There are still many high rel products that require leaded solders including medical and implantable devices. Solders without lead content suck. When lead is bound up in an alloy it’s not much of a problem. Another example of good intentions gone way wrong. But at least the EU can get a warm fuzzy.

Bryan A


Mark S Johnson June 29, 2017 at 3:18 pm
David, you are a reasonably intelligent person…. “One company uses nitrogen triflouride, a potent greenhouse gas”

Now, please go find a solar panel, and point out to me where in that panel the nitrogen trifluoride is stored

The nitrogen trifluoride gas is used in the manufacturing process
Further facts about NF3
During the past 15 years, manufacturers have adopted NF3 for cleaning during electronics manufacturing, because it creates fewer overall emissions than previous cleaners.
Back in 2008, Michael Prather, who was the lead author of the 2007 IPCC assessment, referred to NF3 as “the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto.”
The gas is estimated to linger in the atmosphere for about 550 years, with a global warming potential almost 17,000 times greater than CO2.


They compare everything in the solar panel with only “highly” radioactive waste from nuclear plants. Nuclear plants produce much more medium and low radioactive waste by volume then of the “highly” radioactive variety. This is not worthy of being posted, sounds like it was written by climate scientist.
Why is the other waste not counted? Was the concrete and electrical wires from the decommissioned nuclear plants counted? etc., etc. do a real study then get back to us.
“If solar panels and the rest of the toxic waste associated with solar installations could be compacted in such a manner that they could be disposed of in deep boreholes, the cost would be greater than $1.00/kWh (300 * $0.0032 = $0.96 plus the cost of compacting the panels, etc.” Why on god’s green earth would you need to dispose of a solar panel in a deep borehole? Lead and cadmium are only toxic if you ingest them. Radiation you just need to get near it.
The stupid it burns!!! I recommend people come to this site to get real science quit embarrassing me by posting such vapid drivel.


If you are going down that path, you damn well better start counting the cost of disposing of the toxic crap used in the production of solar panels, as well as the cost of the buildings used to create those panels.
If you are not willing to count the numbers of factories built to produce solar panels as compared to nuclear power stations, you are failing, by your own argument,to count the true cost.
As a side note, lead and cadmium are toxic by contact with the skin, by inhalation (dust/vapor) and ingestion.
Cadmium is also a carcinogen and classified as a highly toxic industrial and environmental pollutant.

Rob Bradley

There is no cadmium in poly/mono crystalline silicon solar panels.


Lead is not toxic by contact with the skin, I have read the MSDS, having worked w/lead. Also, I am not defending solar, and I wish the author did go down that road, it would have at least been intellectually honest. How am I failing by my own argument. Let’s see what is the bare minimum that is needed to generate electricity w/solar, that would be the panel, it’s casing, and it’s stand (you could argue inverters also to make ac). What is the bare minimum needed to generate w/nuclear? The fuel rods, the containment pod, a steam turbine, a cooling tower…pretty much the whole plant. Seems a lot more apples to apples then just a little piece of what is needed for nuclear.

Richard Bell

I apologize for putting this here, instead of in the thread where it should be, but there were no “reply” buttons that I could see.
The claim was made that “Solar panels are NOT radioactive. It’s a typical, motivated, apples to oranges comparison to backup a preconceived position.”, as if this was a good thing.
The problem of solar panel waste not being radioactive is that it is dangerous to the environment ***FOREVER***, while spent nuclear fuel is only harmful for as long as it is more radioactive than its natural surroundings. The great thing about nuclear power that no one ever talks about is how nuclear power accelerates the reduction of global radioactivity. Those radioactive beaches in India, contaminated with naturally occurring thorium, could be cleaned up without having to just dump all of the thorium somewhere else. It gets used as nuclear fuel and the resulting waste is only dangerous for hundreds of years, instead of billions, thanks to the production of electricity, the cleanup pays for itself. [this is not purely sarcastic irony, as the use of nuclear power really does lower the overall radioactivity, and the localized increase in radioactivity can be done while isolated from the biosphere.]
Dumping the waste from solar panel production and defunct solar panels themselves into a landfill does nothing to reduce the environmental dangers of the waste. The toxic aspects have to be properly contained to prevent ecological harm and they must be contained for as long as they can do harm, which is practically forever, as they do not decay faster than proton decay, which has yet to be observed, so the toxins must be contained for at least as long as there is a biosphere.


It is only 300:1 because nuclear fuel is so far used only a small fraction of its capacity.
Put it through a fast breeder and voila! We have limitless supply of energy with no waste to speak of…..

Apparently David Middleton is not fully aware of the more ingenious method of dealing with “nuclear wastes.” Nuclear wastes,” as many have said, are not wastes at all. While the spent uranium that comprises this so-called waste no longer possesses the energy required to drive the electrical turbines of a nuclear power plant, it is not even remotely depeleted of energy. Stored in dry casks, they heat the concrete casks to a temperature well beyond the boiling point of water and can be used to provide the energy required to do many things, including heating buildings and producing desalinated water on a massive scale. All with little cost for the energy required. If we are storing this material for all those years until its energy drops to a low level, why aren’t we using that energy for the next hundreds of years instead? I’m astounded that the “best minds in the business” have overlooked this obvious solution for spent nuclear fuel. It must be the fact that it is radiactive that leads people to the false belief that it is dangerous and must be stored below thousands of feet of earth, where it will warm the underground with no benefit for humans whatsoever. Obvioiusly, I am not impressed by the current thinking about spent nuclear fuel. It has become center of another emotional and nonsensical series of arguments with no observable intelligence involved.
Here is an article by a guy who deflates many green claims and presents his thoughts about using spent nuclear fuel for our economic benefit. Instead of costing money to store the fuel, we can utilize its remaining energy to perform :
mahttp://nuclearstreet.com/virginia_nuclear_energy_consortium/w/wiki/330.a-novel-way-ti-recycle-spent-nuclear-fuelny valuable tasks, at lgreat savings to boot.

And, as I understand it, nuclear waste could become fuel for thorium breeder reactors.


Yup, Gen IV reactors will soon be using “spent” fuel, if only we could get congress to do something useful.

Gerald Brady

That was my understanding too. I believe the Norwegians have a prototype nuclear site called Thor which uses mainly thorium with some plutonium and burns it….thereby getting rid of the plutonium.

steven F

Thorium breeder reactors can only consume the waste that has an atomic number higher than thorium. It cannot consume any of the radioactive elements that have a an atomic number less than that of thorium. Also the react is made of metal. That metal will become radioactive due to neutron radiation they are exposed to. they don’t solve the nuclear waste problem.


Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Even if it can’t completely solve the nuclear waste problem, it makes it a lot less. Which is a good thing.


I’ve always wondered why we couldn’t have a little nuclear waste hot water heater for our homes.


Such a device would have top be made especially idiot proof and we all know that is very difficult if not impossible.
While I might accept most of the contributors to this page could very easily manage a partially spent nuclear fueled water heater in their homes, I would be very nervous allowing the general public, which cannot even manage their cars, to have such a potentially lethal device in their cellars until it falls apart due to neglect or abuse. Imagine the increased costs of home owner’s insurance.


… and not to say anything about how terrorists might remanufacture such water heaters into weapons for their own purposes ..

David A

Ok, but the utility could use this nuclear waste to pre heat the steam for solar like Ivanpoh.
( sarc)


I thought wind plants were bad for toxicity. Solar takes the prize on this one.


What we don’t know WILL hurt us.

Sent from my iPhone


This is test. One solar manufacturer builds recycling into the selling price that covers reclamation. Which one is it?


Yes, but how many nations have actually built a nuclear waste storage/disposal site?
UK waste is sitting under open pools of water (in which seagulls swim!)
And as you say, the EU has this covered:
No reason other regions can’t provide for this.
not an issue!


China will be taking them all back from the EU then Griff?


The EU provides for end of life disposal of solar panels.
There won’t be any toxic chemicals in the environment, piles of waste or anything else.
This is one firm currently recycling – though with a 30 year life, most panels ever installed are still in use.
And I think we’re still a little short on nuclear waste sites.

Mark - Helsinki

The EU market is getting shattered by the Chinese cheap panels

Tsk Tsk

Would this be the same EU which subjected its citizens to unnecessarily high levels of ground-level ozone and particulates to avoid the demon gas CO2? I wonder how many thousands have died due to that alone. Just another log on the fire (but not too many logs or they might solve fuel poverty and reduced those deaths).


Forrest G. why would anyone waste the time to calculate the cost of disposing of silicon in a deep borehole? How about just the lead or cadmium, maybe he thought we would just dispose of it in the deep borehole? Oh wait we dig huge holes in order to get lead and cadmium not to dispose of them! A simple thermal smelting will separate the heavy metals and make them useful again. Lets see the cost to make a spent fuel rod non-radioactive, about the same cost to turn lead into gold which is the only reason a borehole is needed!

David A

Griff, everything has a cost. You just raised the cost again.
We are short on facilities to safely store nuclear waste because of political reasons.

There is something about nuclear waste that people forget. Radioactive isotopes are relatively rare. Some of them have known value such as Cobalt 60. Others may have a use that we discover in the future. The idea of burying waste is a legacy from the days when we did not want a human to be around the stuff. With our advancements in robotics and remote control, the work of manipulating a waste stream so that the valuable parts can be separated can be done without endangering human health. I’m not convinced that dumping a potentially valuable material down a borehole is such a great idea.
When most people think of nuclear power they mean nuclear power that was designed in the ’50s and ’60s or even worse nuclear power that was designed by a communist dictatorship in the ’60s. We don’t do that with any other technology. Imagine if we based our opinion of air travel on the reliability of old airplanes or old Russian airplanes.
Some people whom we label ‘liberal’ are actually very conservative in their outlook. They get it in their mind that they don’t like something and they will not change for love or money. My eighty-nine year old mother hates computers. She still uses a typewriter. I find the anti-nuke people to be as exasperating as my mother.

Gary Pearse

Known useful isotopes are manufactured. Canada supplied much of the world’s needs up to about 10yrs ago, but starvation budgets finally resulted on shut down the reactor creating a temporary global crisis, particularly for medicine.

“I find the anti-nuke people to be as exasperating as my mother.”
And all this time I thought I was completely alone on that subject…


What about the ‘Social’ costs, if included would easily show solar being cost effective, my feelings have been hurt once again. /sarc

Carbon BIgfoot



I would have guessed….97 times more waste… Any consensus on that?


It won’t cost that much. They’ll either be left to decay where they are (like derelict pinwheels) or put in landfills.

What’s with the cost comparison using the cost of disposal in deep boreholes? Solar panel waste doesn’t need that kind of disposal because it’s not (significantly at least) radioactive.

Mark - Helsinki

David you’d have to make panels edible to get a comparison

Bryan A

Just line the borehole with solar panels


David nice dodge! Answer Donald’s question. Instead of using something that doesn’t work well for solar, you use a disposal method for solar that has no basis in logic. Why did you use the disposal method for deep boreholes? If your going to go crazy why not the cost of rocketing it all into the sun or feeding it to magic unicorns who will then fart it out into rainbows. Seriously, justify why you used that comparison.

Gary Pearse

Don’t forget these guys kill birds with impunity and have a licence to kill. Their economics is different than yours. Rare-earth’s for windmills, also are killers, and environmentally worse: heavy rare earth’s needed for magnets comes mainly from China where they dig pits into Re clays, fill with sulphuric acid and then pump the “filtrate” out and precipitate the RE! This is Chinese sustainability for saving the planet. If they cared a whit about economics and the environment, windmills would cost twice as much as they do now.
Why are neomarxbrothers so enamoured with China’s political economy?


Because it is controlled and planned economy…everything a Marxist loves


It really eases my mind that First Solar funded specially designed experiments to show the safety of CdTe solar panels during fire and recycling.
Other than the large amount of non-cadmium was generated by solar panels, most of which could be recycled but probably will go to landfills, the negative effects appear to be similar to that of carbon dioxide- insignificant.


…and tests for wind, hail, and salt etc. etc. for UL, EU, etc etc.

Studies funded (even at a distance of ten arms) by fossil fuel and / or nuclear industries. ALL LIES!
Studies directly funded (even done in house by their own salaried people) by solar and / or wind and / or biofuel industries. BETTER THAN GOSPEL TRUTH! STRAIGHT FROM THE MOUTH OF GAIA!
Yep. Mildly rephrased – “If Greens didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all.”

Bob Turner

The story above is incomplete, of course. I’m positive about nuclear, but there are risks, caused by people. People who think it a good idea to switch off the safety systems to do a production experiment (Chernobyl). People who think they know better than the automated control systems (3 mile island). Design engineers who don’t think about the possibility of tsumanis (Fukushima).
I lived in the Netherlands at the time of Chernobyl, working in a photographic factory. I remember the panic of neighbours who didn’t know whether they could eat the vegetables from their garden, were they lethal? And all the problems of how to clean up the public space.
The worries about long-term safety and maintence of old installations continues. The Dutch government are handing out iodine pills to people near the Belgian border, as they’re worried about the safety of old Belgian installations.
These kind of events stay in the folk memory for a long time. The population as a whole need to be comfortable with nuclear, and they simply aren’t, and won’t be soon.
And remember: it’s quite difficult for a terrorist to make a dirty bomb from solar panel waste.

Meanwhile the Dutch government extended the life of their (only) nuclear reactor, with 20 years, so that it will be 10 years older than the oldest Belgian reactor when closing… A little hypocrite there.
As I live at less than 5 km in the main wind direction of Doel with 2500 MW nuclear power, we have received our iodine pills too from the Belgian government…
The main difference is the way communication was done: at the time of the Chernobyl disaster, lots of panic in the Dutch media. none in Belgium, as the “cloud” just moved over our country and all fallout was before and after that, so said the local weatherman (influenced by?) on TV. Which of course was nonsense, as in all cases there was fallout, but in quantities far under any real danger.
The opposite happens now: in Belgium all nuclear facilities are obliged to report every accident to the media, even if nothing to do with the nuclear part, like recently a failing steam valve at the power generator causing a shutdown of the generator and consequently of the nuclear reactor. Not even a nuclear incident, but broadly used in the media to show how bad the “old” nuclear facilities are… Dutch and German nuclear reactors don’t have such an obligation, while the Dutch reactor has far more incidents per year, including several (low level) nuclear…

Jan Goffa

Never in the Belgian media : April ’17 not less dan 1°C colder on average / Windturbines tumbling down on A-roads near the Belgian border / Antarctic sea ice extend hits record in 35 years last week / Still 1 m of snow in US Colorado in summertime / Fishing vessels stuck in heavy Canadian sea ice in June / politicians NOT having any plans for futur stable energy supply / NASA admitting coming little ice age / Google admitting renewable energy will never slow climate change nor be profitable….
Daily news in Belgium : CO2-alarmism / defective unimportant auxiliary components outside nuclear reactors / Every single country phasing out and closing down nuclear plants / warmest 17th of may on record in …. Amsterdam / ….


There’s no designing for people who go out of their way to defeat safety features. :[
As one example, exhaust fans in central heating systems are deliberately constructed to only go in one way, because being installed the wrong way will cause the exhaust to blow *into* the building instead of out. An entire family in Colorado Springs died from carbon monoxide pumped into their rental house by a reversed exhaust fan in the central heating. Turned out the landlord had taken it upon himself to replace a broken fan in the system, got frustrated when he couldn’t get it to go in, and ended up using a hammer to force it in. The wrong way. The Homicide Hunter show on ID had an episode about it.


Designers did think about the possibilities of Tsunami’s at Fukishima, even built a wall. The odds of a 9.0 earthquake hitting there, pretty low. How many people were killed by radiation at Fukishma? How many may die early from the radiation? How many people may die early from the poison spread all over the ground and into the ocean from all the toxic chemicals spread by the earthquake and resulting tsunami? How many people died from the tsunami? If a meteor hit a nuclear plant people would blame the nuclear plant and not the meteor for the resulting deaths and spend billions to protect reactors from meteors instead of cities from meteors.
Frankly, I think they should have let the reactors melt down and the containment vessels do what they were designed to, but apparently nobody was willing to bet on the models/science being right so instead they pumped sea water into the reactor which then got irradiated and leaked out. But they couldn’t risk letting a plant “melt down”. Irrrational fears brought by media hysteria is the problem.


Entropy. It’s a bitch. (excuse sexism, pls.) Entropy is not taught in high school except as AP classes in physics. But it shouldn’t be ignored by the elevated intellects in the environmental debates!

CD in Wisconsin

“…….This is not to even mention the environmental damage done by making solar panels in the first place. A 2013 investigation by the Associated Press found that from 2007 to 2011, the manufacture of solar panels in California “produced 46.5 million pounds of sludge and contaminated water. Roughly 97 percent of it was taken to hazardous waste facilities throughout the state, but more than 1.4 million pounds were transported to nine other states.” That’s no way for a state to keep its carbon footprint small; one renewable-energy analyst quoted by the AP estimated it would take “one to three months of generating electricity [from the solar panels] to pay off the energy invested in driving those hazardous waste emissions out of state.” Six years later, it’s safe to assume the amount of toxic waste is even higher as solar-panel production continues to ramp up…..”
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449026/solar-panel-waste-environmental-threat-clean-energy.
Coupled with all the other issues with solar (massive land requirements, lack of cost effective high capacity storage, waste from rare earth mining, etc, etc.) it has become apparent to me that we have done things bass ackwards here when we began implementing solar panels. We put the cart before the horse.
But I suppose we can make that same argument with other energy generating technologies as well, especially the wastes from coal and nuclear. But at least those technologies are capable of powering a developed 21st century society without an irrationally large expenditure of resources and other issues that solar suffers from.
BTW, I am keeping my fingers crossed for GE’s PRISM Reactor and Bill Gates Travelling Wave Reactor as a solution to the plutonium waste issue. I realize there is no guarantee that these technologies will find their way to commercial use anytime soon, but I can’t think of any other technology or solution to the plutonium issue that would work better.


ok….this is just a hyped up bunch of BS….
Just move all production to China….everyone knows there’s no toxic waste problems there
/snark <– just in case there's someone that hasn't had enough coffee yet

Mike G

In the definition of waste, it says the study is talking about the panels themselves. What about the waste from production of the panels? Semiconductor production, as I recall, produces some significant toxic waste.


What about the low and medium radioactive waste generated by nuclear plants? You are correct however, this is a non-story it compares select pieces of a system in order to come to a desired conclusion. Do all the costs then publish a real story. I would not be surprised to see that solar waste costs more. Especially since the most toxic part is the batteries needed.


I also wonder what the analysis would say if they started at the raw material stage, mining uranium versus getting the material needed for solar panels, include all the material needed to build a nuke plant compared to the materials for the equivalent reliable solar power. It’s probably already been done but how much energy is consumed to build a 500MW nuclear plant compared to 2000MW worth of solar panels?

Toxic Mind

“If solar panels and the rest of the toxic waste associated with solar installations could be compacted in such a manner that they could be disposed of in deep boreholes….”
You are kidding us. Why would someone want to dispose solar installation toxic waste in such expensive manner? It is not necessary at all. Solar installation toxic waste is nothing like nuclear power plants toxic waste.

Quite right. Solar waste hazard lasts forever. Nuclear waste loses most of its hazard in far less than a human lifetime.

Merchants of Despair, a book by nuclear PhD engineer Robert Zubrin deals with the hysterical, illogical & frankly stupid reactions engineered through the presstitute M$M to safe clean nuclear power & waste disposal.
This most valuable book also deals with the depopulation agenda behind the worthy but hijacked “environmentalist” movement.
Nuclear “waste” could be utilised as fuel in Thorium molten salt reactors, if sanity was given a chance.
& fusion could be a pathway to the planets & stars, if research was any way adequately funded.
Zubrin has 9 patents, granted or pending, to his name.
Burying depleted fuel rods deep underground, at vast cost, is an idiotic proposal possible only in these insane times of political correctness.
John Doran.

I didn’t realize that the aluminum frames in solar panels are considered toxic. Don’t they package beer and soda in aluminum?

Toxic Mind

The article is totally biased. You cannot compare 1 ton of nuclear plant waste to 1 ton of solar plant waste.

Does this study include the tailings from the uranium mining as “waste?” Is the depleted uranium from enrichment included?

So the study cherry picks the nuclear waste (high-level) and lumps ALL solar panel waste (i.e. aluminum frames.)

Toxic Mind is right, this study is biased.

Does the $0,003 per kWh disposal costs include grinding up the decommissioned core and stuffing it down the borehole?

RE: tailings……..”These are not high level waste products.”

True, they are “low level” with regard to radiation, and they are toxic with regard to the environment: http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/waste/uranium-mines-and-millswaste/index.cfm#Tailings

Gary Pearse

Mark J: Both the ore and the mine tailings are safe to handle. Backfilling the mine with much lower grade waste than the original ore is even less “hazardous” than Nature’s ore deposit.
This century is the one in which we will emerge, at last, from the constant state of fear of everything generated by the Nouveau left elites. The dive that the neomarxbrothers climoenviros are on the verge of taking over this near destruction of civilization and its economic engines, will not be forgotten.
With population peaking around mid century (75% there) the last of the schitzoid Malthusian will be gone.
With nuclear by far the safest, reliable, cheap energy source we have and will make better (70 odd deaths since 1950,only one in France the most advanced nuke juice maker) and the Ukraine Chernobyl “exclusion zone” developing into the Serengeti of Europe
I regret that I would have to reach 110 years old to taste this new world. Maybe if I became a squatter in the Chernobyl exclusion zone…

“Both the ore and the mine tailings are safe to handle.”

“Why would physicians oppose uranium mining?”

“As are the mine tailings of many of the metals which go into solar panels”

The predominant component of solar panels is silicon. You can obtain the raw material, silicon dioxide, from of all places……beach sand. Hardly any tailing digging up that stuff.

David, thanks for posting the obvious. What you’ve now done is add batteries and wind turbines into the mix. If you do that, then the entire post above about solar panels is rendered even more asinine (aka-goal post moving). You’ve also mixed thin film technologies with mono/poly crystalline PV panels, and not mentioning the % mix of the two. Big difference in materials and/or wastes with regard to each.

For your education:
1) Solar installation do not need batteries. Inverter technologies have seen to that
2) Wind turbines do not need rare-earth magnets. You can energize the armature in the wind turbine the same way the alternator in your vehicle is energized…….with an electromagnet.
3) Copper, lead, iron and aluminum are currently being recycled, and are not considered “waste.”

David, there is something missing from your pretty colored graphic.

Why is fossil fuel material/Twh absent?

1) “Nowhere in my comment did I say that solar installations require batteries”…..true, so I suggest you don’t copy and paste such things into your comments, unless you aren’t reading what you are copy and pasting?
2) Your graphic is titled: “Materials Throughput for Each Energy Source” ….. It’s missing the metric for fossil fuels. You do realize that fossil fuels are an “energy source” correct? So what is the material/Twh for a typical coal burning plant?. Why was it excluded in the graphic?

“They were comparing nuclear to solar.”

Wow, so they threw in hydro, geothermal and wind for laughs.

Ha ha ha ha ha.
I think they left out coal, because there wouldn’t be enough space on the page to display how high it was.

The quoted passage didn’t say that batteries were required in solar installations: “Metals used in solar panels and batteries”

Yup, they must have been talking about the batteries used in Teslas

“coal- and natural gas-fired plants would be in the same ballpark as nuclear power.”

OK, that explains why twice a month a 30-50 car train load of nuclear fuel rods are delivered to a nuke plant. Are the spent fuel ponds the same size as the coal ash ponds?

“The raw materials graph was not of fuel.”

There were six colors, blue for cement, green for concrete, red for steel, yellowish for glass, purple for other, and…….(drum roll)…..DARK GREY FOR FUEL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The legend is part of the graph, therefore “fuel” is part of the graph.

Please try again Davie.

I get it Dave, the comparison is between apples and oranges. Leaving out the fuel for coal and nat-gas makes the comparison come out the way the creator of the graphic wanted it to come out. Nice cherries.

“While solar consumes far more raw materials per kWh than nuclear, coal or natural gas.”………only when you ignore the fact that “fuel” is a “raw material.”

Again, nice cherry you picked there Davie.

Bryan A

And lets not forget Solar’s Massive Fuel source and fuel availability hours

Sorry Dave, this was a very bad choice of article.

From the table you provided, shows 16447 tons of material for Solar PV/Twh.

Of that 16447 tons, I will consider 210 of plastic to be “toxic”

Steel, concrete, cement, aluminum, copper, glass, and slicon are not “toxic”

So, 1.25% of the volume of PV panel waste is “toxic”
Too bad you can’t retract this article, it’s really indefensible.

I apologize Dave, for going way over your head.

Here, lets start with this: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toxic

When you are comfortable with that word, we’ll discuss the average density of waste…….OK?

Dave, you should consider a new profession. I suggest you should become a baker. You could specialize in baking cherry pies, because you are such a great cherry picker.

Please post a graph that compares the “wastes” from a coal plant compared to nuclear, solar, hydro, etc.

Until you do that, your nuclear bias is shining brighter than a 100 watt flood lamp.

PS Dave…..you can dump 100 used solar panels in my backyard, but please don’t dump 100 used fuel rods there…..there’s a slight difference in “toxicity” between the two items.

Tsk Tsk

I don’t know which to pity more: Mark’s lack of basic understanding of grammar or his innumeracy. Therefore, I choose to pity both equally. He frequently confuses volume with mass and toxicity with volume. I realize that solar panels are a religious relic in your world view but at least try to understand what was a very comprehensible post.

Luis Anastasia

Tsk, Tsk, answer this question:
You have a choice, to put 1 cubic inch of a spent fuel rod in your pocket, or 1 cubic inch of a discarded solar panel. You must put it in your pants pocket for 24 hours. Which would you choose?

Tsk Tsk

Luis, here’s your choice: live for the rest of your life on the energy output of that 1cc of nuclear fuel or on the power output of 1cc of solar panel. Or perhaps we should compare sticking your head in a cooling pond versus a vacuum dep chamber. Deal?

Gary Pearse

Mark J: Why do physicians rant against nuclear? They don’t this is a typical fake news toss away which the neomarxbrothers are famous for, like CAGW, a manufactured fear. And if they did rail about nuclear, who are they to know anything about it. With less than one death average at nuclear plants a year, most of them over fifty years having occurred in the soviet no safety features design at Chernobyl in the year it fell apart.
And the study you are bashing was done at Berkeley, the much admired soviet California academy of sciences where your comrades at arms are hunkering down with their playdough in huge safe places. After scares by the institutions climateer faculty.


Mark S Johnson June 29, 2017 at 11:58 am
… 1) Solar installation do not need batteries. Inverter technologies have seen to that …

That approach uses the grid for de facto energy storage. It breaks down once there is a certain percent of solar PV attached to the grid. Then you have to supply explicit dispatchable generation or storage.

2) Wind turbines do not need rare-earth magnets. You can energize the armature in the wind turbine the same way the alternator in your vehicle is energized…….with an electromagnet.

Many do. The trend seems to be to permanent magnet generators (PMG). link By the same token, you could point out that I don’t need a BIC lighter to start a fire, I could rub two sticks together, and you would be right … as far as that goes.


If you want to include the tailings from uranium mines, then you need to include the tailings from the mines used for all the materials that go into solar panels as well.
Try being honest for once.

Sam R.

Many of you need to be reminded that the half-life of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years, and 700 million years for uranium-235… When comparing waste in the form of old silicon boards to depleted uranium, you need to have some kind o perspective, the volume comparison are misleading at best.
In Fallujah, Iraq, about one in six birth displays signs of genetic damage from the depleted uranium left from US bombings.
We’ve got 500 years worth of coal in the US alone, we’re awash in natural gas, and peak oil is a myth. we know that CO2 as a greenhouse gas is marginal as best. So why are climate skeptics so keen on nuclear energy and dismissive about its dangers when there is no need for it in its current form?

Joe Civis

“In Fallujah, Iraq, about one in six birth displays signs of genetic damage from the depleted uranium left from US bombings.” mmm just curious what type of bomb did the US use that left the depleted uranium?


A-10s were used in CAS roles in and around Fallujah, but I don’t know the ordnance expended mix of GAU, Maverick missile, Hydra rockets, cluster munitions and LGBs. But definitely no bombs containing DU. The only bombs with DU are thermonuclear.
Should be easy to survey the environment to locate any radioactive hotspots, if such exist. Also, AARs would say where and when GAU was used and how many rounds.


Armour-piercing ammunition fired from tank guns would have been one source.


A-10s also dropped propaganda leaflets.
While M289 Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot rounds may well have been expended in or around Fallujah, they’re expensive and generally reserved for anti-tank work.
There might have been some obstacle in urban fighting requiring a DU round, but couldn’t have been many, if any.
But I can’t say with any degree of certainty that US tanks did not fire any in or around Fallujah.


Oops. Sorry. Meant M829. Old age onset dysnumeria, or whatever the numerical equivalent of dyslexia might be.


This says Iraqi health ministry found no excessive rate of birth defects.
Also that some 300,000 DU rounds were fired in Iraq (might include first Gulf War). The vast majority of those would be 30mm from Warthog, not 120mm (27mm penetrating rod diameter) from Abrams.


The tank gun round’s DU long-rod penetrator weighs 4.6 kg. The GAU round weighs 300 g.
I’ve read that the M829A3 round’s penetrator weighs 10 kg. It was only type classified in 2003, and Iraq might not have had any tanks requiring its superior penetration ability.


The consanguineous marriage rate in Iraq is >50%, so it seems highly remarkable that 5 out of 6 births are normal.


Yup. In much of the Arab and Muslim world generally, first cousin marriage is normal and preferred, or uncle-niece. With a large number of children from such consanguineous unions, continuing into the mom’s 40s, a high rate of birth defects would be expected.

Sam R.

“Depleted uranium doesn’t come from bombing. The A-10’s GAU-8 30 mm cannon fires armor piercing DU shells. I don’t think it was used very often against urban targets in populated areas.”
Not true. Most of the DU fired by A10s were used against “normal” targets (buildings, vehicles, infantry etc). And it is used in bunker buster bombs.
There are over 350 sites in Iraq that have been heavily contaminated with DU from US bombings/attacks. This subject is not peripheral to the discussion here, as the production of depleted uranium weapons has been one of the main avenues for disposing of nuclear energy waste. This might be the worst environmental problem in the world today, and one of the most egregious crime against humanity. Cancer rates in Fallujah, one of the worst hit areas in Iraq, have gone up 4,000% since the city was bombed by US forces.
Peak Oil IS a myth, because known global oil reserves have been rising faster than the current extraction rate:
[imgcomment image[/img]
…And natural gas reserves have been rising even faster. The world is also awash with fossil fuels, and as you’ve mentioned, coal alone could power the world for centuries. The only reason for not relying on fossil fuels as the main energy source for this century is the artificial and irrational fear of man-made CO2 as a greenhouse gas. We of all people should know better…
The variable cost of nuclear energy is low on existing plants, but
1) it doesn’t account for the cost of treating and disposing of nuclear waste
2) or the risks from another Chernobyl or Fukushima, and
3) the cost of new plants is now far too prohibitive and nowhere near as competitive with fossil fuels.


Sam R. June 29, 2017 at 1:32 pm
Most GAU ammo was not expended in cities against buildings and civilians. Its “normal targets” in Iraq did include tanks and light armored vehicles, but also thin-skinned vehicle convoys, artillery positions and sometimes infantry in the open or barricaded.
In some cases, the autocannon is preferable to missiles, rockets and bombs, as creating less unwanted collateral damage. Your notion that DU bombs were used in Iraq is so wrong as to be beyond laughable.

Joe Civis

as I have a much greater than cursory knowledge of such military things, I figured at best Sam R was mistaken.


What study found a 4000% increase in cancer? A 2010 study found an overall increase of four times, but its authors cautioned, that “owing to the structural problems associated with surveys of this kind, care should be exercised in interpreting the findings quantitatively”.
Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi (2010), “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009”, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2010, 7, 2828–2837; doi:10.3390/ijerph7072828


I love the way trolls trot out discredited studies from discredited propaganda sites as if they were God’s own truth.


Sam R: You need to be reminded that toxic non-radioactive materials such as heavy metals have no half-life. In other words they remain toxic forever.
As for your depleted uranium and genetic damage from weapons comment, this meme has be debunked time and time again. I suspect you have little understanding of the half-life concept. Fudging the math a whole bunch to make the image clear, If you have 5 billion atoms of U-238, there will be one emission per year from the entire 5 billion atoms. The longer the half-life, the lower the emissivity rate (specific activity) for a same number of atoms comparison. U-238 has a very low specific activity at 3.3 e-7 Curies/gram or 0.33 uCi/gm. If you are the “standard man”, you will have about 0.0007 grams of uranium already in your body from natural sources. If you would like more info about the effects and potential harm (relatively low) of uranium, please respond and I’ll continue with my tutorial.


Which of course is why DU (U-238) isn’t fissile except when bombarded by high energy neutrons during a thermonuclear reaction (H-bomb).
I failed to mention also the higher rate of older fathers (aged 40-80+) in the Muslim world, making babies with second, third and fourth wives in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties. Men accumulate mutations in their germ cells throughout their lives, some of which are negative.

Sam R.

“I failed to mention also the higher rate of older fathers (aged 40-80+) in the Muslim world, making babies with second, third and fourth wives in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties. Men accumulate mutations in their germ cells throughout their lives, some of which are negative.”
Sure, Gabro, this accounts for the 4,000% increase in cancer rates in Fallujah overnight between 2001 and 2005, those darn Muslim fathers got 4 years older!
AGrimm: “If you have 5 billion atoms of U-238, there will be one emission per year from the entire 5 billion atoms”
There’s been over 1000 tonnes of depleted uranium dropped on Iraq. That’s approximately 15,530,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 uranium atoms. Five billionth of that is still an annual emission of 3,177,000,000,000,000,000 radioactive particles.
The birth defect rate observed in Fallujah after it was bombed to bits is the highest ever observed on any population in the history of mankind (Caputi, Ross (25 October 2012) “The victims of Fallujah’s health crisis are stifled by western silence”). Do you also think that is from old muslim dads aGrimm, or maybe it was from the Aspartame in their diet soda?!? And who has been doing the debunking here, the Pentagon, or the trillion dollar defense industry?


This 4000% increase exists only in your paranoid fantasies.


Sam R: You need to be reminded that toxic non-radioactive materials such as heavy metals have no half-life. In other words they remain toxic forever.
As for your depleted uranium and genetic damage from weapons comment, this meme has be debunked time and time again. [small snip…no need for that -mod] Fudging the math a whole bunch to make the image clear, If you have 5 billion atoms of U-238, there will be one emission per year from the entire 5 billion atoms. The longer the half-life, the lower the emissivity rate (specific activity) for a same number of atoms comparison. U-238 has a very low specific activity at 3.3 e-7 Curies/gram or 0.33 uCi/gm. If you are the “standard man”, you will have about 0.0007 grams of uranium already in your body from natural sources. If you would like more info about the effects and potential harm (relatively low) of uranium, please respond and I’ll continue with my tutorial.


Replying to Sam R’s posting at 1:57.
I have no idea if your 1000 tonnes of DU employed in Iraq is correct, but how much of that can be ingested by any single person? Your math for the number of emissions from this amount has no relevance to what an individual might ingest or take up into the body. There are basically six factors that need to be taken into account when determining the hazard of a radionuclide.
1) Half- life: uranium has a very long half-life at 4.5 billion years. The odds of a single uranium atom emitting its radiation in your body is your life-span, e.g. 72 years, divided by the 4.5 billion years.
2) Emission Type (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Neutron, X-ray): U is an alpha emitter. It poses no risk from external exposure. It poses a risk if taken internally and adsorbed by the body.
3) Emission Energy: typical for alpha emitters at 4.2 and 4.15 MeV.
4) Decay Path: an alpha emission that goes through the entire U decay series. For each decay path, the new nuclide needs to get the same six step evaluation.
5) Quantity (number of Curies): this is the big, big factor that must be determined regarding an individual’s potential for uptake from the use of DU weapons. You would have eat hundreds of pounds and have that quantity taken up by the body to get a lethal dose from Uranium. Our body does not absorb elemental Uranium easily. DU in weapons is elemental uranium. Of course vaporized DU can be inhaled, but if you are close enough to vaporized DU you are likely already dead. As vaporized DU falls out of the atmosphere quite quickly, vaporized DU loses its threat to the innocents within a few feet.
6) Chemical and Physical Nature of Material: the chemical and physical nature of any radionuclide is critical to how it may be taken up by the body. Regarding its physical nature, uranium is a heavy metal and like any heavy metal can be quite toxic to the body. As a heavy metal, uranium is quite toxic to the kidneys in large quantities. It should be noted that that uranium has no analogous chemical which the body uses. Therefore there is no storage of it in our bodies such as can happen with Strontium (analogous to calcium and gets stored in bone). Elemental DU, as noted above, via oral ingestion results in little uptake by the gastrointestinal tract. There are uranium compounds that are readily adsorbed by the body but these are not found in the use of DU weapons. The chemical and physical nature of DU cannot be emphasized too much. The pathways to the body can include environmental movement where both dilution (a good thing) or concentration (potentially bad) must be analyzed.
So I leave it up to you to give me an amount of DU that you think the average Iraquian might have ingested and taken up. With that info, I can calculate the dose rate and projected number of DNA mutations (results vary greatly but there are models that come up with a number – not that I have great faith in the models).
Please do not connect me to any unproven theory such as the older dad, global warming, better reporting, made up numbers, or any other unproven theory about the so-called rise of birth mutations in any third world country. There are too many unknowns and dang few studies that are worth a dang.


In your first paragraph, you seem to have a common misconception about radioactivity. The longer the half-life, the lower the radioactivity. Uranium and Plutonium are not the problems in the nuclear industry – you could have a stack of uranium sitting on the desk beside you and have no problems whatsoever. We have to use an external neutron source to start the fission reaction in the reactor in most cases (different designs use different solutions). The problem is in the decay daughters in the neutron induced fission of Uranium or Plutonium found in spent fuel rods. Some have half-lives in the seconds, while others are measured in days to years. Freshly minted fuel rods could be moved around by hand, but “spent” rods have a large number of short half-life highly radioactive elements in them (called poisons in the industry because they suck all the neutrons up and stop the fission reaction). The reason the rods are “spent” is because of these varying radioactivity (from not at all to extremely) daughter elements. If we were allowed to reprocess these rods, we wouldn’t need to mine another ounce of Uranium for at least 100 years, and the highly radioactive waste level would drop to a few hundred pounds per year, greatly reducing the problems in using nuclear energy. This is part of the reason that President Carter canceled the US reprocessing projects – to appease anti-nuclear groups that wanted to make nuclear energy as hard as possible.
Have those genetic problems been corrected for about 100 generations of predominately marrying ones first cousins as is prevalent in Islamic countries of the middle east? This is a problem that has been seen in Britain’s Islamic populations as well. DU might cause these problems but the causation pathway is not clear cut – all the studies are based on fairly weak epidemiological studies which are notoriously bad for causation analysis – great for what they were designed for – finding pockets of disease and outbreaks, but statistically incapable of showing causation. One can think of epidemiology as a great tool for showing scientists where to look for disease causes.
Depleted uranium has an extremely low radioactivity. The gypsum board and concrete used in most houses will set a Geiger counter off at a greater click frequency than a depleted uranium shell. DU is an alpha emitter so is only really a problem at all if it is eaten or breathed in with breathing being the worse of the two. If it is eaten or drunk in water it will pass through the body with very small chance of a decay occurring. If it is breathed, it can lodge in the lungs for extended period and contribute to increased incidence of lung cancer and other tissue damage. Alpha emissions in general can be stopped by a piece of paper and generally won’t pass through clothing or the layers of dead skin cells on a body. The ones that are normally worried about are the alpha emitters that mimic other essential elements (same column on periodic table) and can get actively transported for use in tissue. They become ticking time bombs for future tissue damage.

Sam R.

“Have those genetic problems been corrected for about 100 generations of predominately marrying ones first cousins as is prevalent in Islamic countries of the middle east? This is a problem that has been seen in Britain’s Islamic populations as well.”
Once again, the baseline here was pre-war Iraq vs post-war Iraq, so we’re talking about same population and genetic pool. Cancer rates and birth defects rates have skyrocketed in that short span, and were observed by local doctors. Reducing the problem to neoconservative anthropology canards is at best dishonest.

@Sam – were corrections also made for other environmental factors? War produces a lot of disruption. Contaminated water supplies, chemical leaks (not war chemicals, just chemicals), fuel spills, higher use of more toxic fuels (such as animal dung, treated wood, etc.) for heating and cooking – a whole host of things that are well known to increase cancers and birth defects.
In fact, I’m not sure you can even adjust for all of the confounding factors – they will be extremely regional and varied between regions.
In other words – these “studies” found exactly what they were looking for, and stopped right there before the “researchers” could get confused…

Owen in GA

I’ll see your canard and raise you one jack___.
The pathway still needs to be explored.
Before you start throwing “neo-conservative” at other posters – get real. The DU connection needs serious research – and the genetic problems in conservative Islam (more liberal Islamic societies are far less impacted by this) is a known problem. Just because a fact doesn’t fit your politics doesn’t make it a non-fact or a “canard” of your perceived political strawman opponents

Sam R.

Owen in GA June 29, 2017 at 3:39 pm
I’ll see your canard and raise you one jack___.
The pathway still needs to be explored.
Before you start throwing “neo-conservative” at other posters – get real. The DU connection needs serious research – and the genetic problems in conservative Islam (more liberal Islamic societies are far less impacted by this) is a known problem. Just because a fact doesn’t fit your politics doesn’t make it a non-fact or a “canard” of your perceived political strawman opponents. Please stop clinging to …
Blaming “Islam” for the explosive SPIKE in cancer rates and birth defects that took place right after 2003-05 in cities like Basra and Fallujah is really appalling. Those cities were heavily bombed with hundreds of tons of depleted uranium, the explosion in birth defects in those cities took place right after these bombings, and those types of birth defects were never observed there before:
“Dr Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.
“We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine,” Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital last year, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.
Alani also co-authored a study in 2010 that showed the rate of heart defects in Fallujah to be 13 times the rate found in Europe. And, for birth defects involving the nervous system, the rate was calculated to be 33 times that found in Europe for the same number of births.”
“Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft pallets, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.
Multiple birth defects have become common with babies born in the aftermath of US assaults on the city
“…It’s been found by a coroner’s court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium,” Busby told Al Jazeera.
“In the last ten years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars.”
In July 2010, Busby released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks. The report also showed the sex ratio had become skewed to 86 boys born to every 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative of genetic damage – similar to, but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.
She said that, when the DU munitions explode or strike their targets, they generate “fine metal-containing dust particles as well as DU-containing particles that persist in the environment. These particles can enter the food chain and enter the human body via contaminated food. Toxic particles can also become airborne with the wind and be inhaled by the public. Iraq is prone to frequent sand and dust storms. Continuous public inhalation of toxic materials can lead to cancer. Ingested or inhaled particles that emit alpha radiation can cause cancer.”
On cancer rates:
“Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.
As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.”
Bottom line: DU is a huge problem and its use is a crime against humanity. It’s the ugliest part of the nuclear energy picture, and the worst form of nuclear waste recycling.

Owen in GA

First, NO BOMB IN THE ALLIED INVENTORY CONTAINS DU! Now if you want to talk about machine gun/gatlin gun bullets that is a different story. Your rant reads like a political activist and doesn’t give anything but emotional appeal.
I do not blame Islam for the problems in southern Iraq. Though I also wonder if attribution to DU is proven. The Iraqi government had been bombing and burning the people of southern Iraq out since 1989-90. They were not that careful with their chemical weapons either, but the only intentional use of chemicals we know of was in the north. There had been continuous military activity down there since the invasion of Kuwait.
I don’t usually consider Al Jazeera a reliable source. We caught them red handed aiding Al Qaieda operations and otherwise acting as pseudo-combatants way too often, and they seem to be the propaganda arm of ISIS today. So while I feel for those who were caught in the middle of the war, your comment on it being a war crime is patently false! All the international treaties exclude DU from them and there have been several rulings on that excluding DU. You want to MAKE it illegal? Fine, go convince all the governments to add it to the conventions – until then you are simply virtue signaling.

Michael darby


The W87 contains U-238 which is “depleted uranium” in the radiation case.

Owen in GA

OK, Conventional Bomb – we haven’t dropped a nuke in anger since 45.

Let me see… What is the half-life of lead, or cadmium, or arsenic? Let us Google…
Oh yes, infinite. Essentially. Unless you subscribe to the universal collapse back to singularity cosmology, in which case a few tens of billions of years. If you subscribe to the heat death cosmology, a googol (hah!) of years. (10 ^ 100 years, for the mathematically illiterate.)
And, of course, U238 is quite useful – for radiation shielding. The only radiation hazard lies in one of its decay products – radon. Which is only a (somewhat) significant hazard these days thanks to energy “efficient” buildings that concentrate it, rather than venting to the general environment.


As always, total and complete garbage. Depleted uranium is barely above background when it comes to radiation.

A C Osborn

Let’s get all the Manufacturers and Sellers of Solar Panels to dispose of the waste.
Oh wait a minute, they are all going bankcrupt aren’t they?
So who does that leave, I know the poor old taxpayer.


If you read the sources …for http://www.theenergycollective.com/energybants/2407383/headed-solar-waste-crisis
“The study defines as toxic waste the spent fuel assemblies from nuclear plants and the solar panels themselves, which is only a tiny fraction of total waste for former …
EP estimated that a typical 1 GW nuclear reactor produces 27 tonnes of waste annually.”
citing http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-wastes/radioactive-waste-management.aspx
So basically comparing used solar panels to spent fuel rod assemblies to used which are high level waste (HLW).
There is a lot of low level nuclear waste also, and would assume toxins from manufacture of solar panels.
The citing doc also
“HLW accounts for just 3% of the volume, but 95% of the total radioactivity of produced waste.”
Comparing just the spent nuclear fuel rods to solar panels as toxic waste by energy produced is a half hour study and far from any real analysis. It is like comparing apples to oranges plus ignores the brunt of waste. It is clearly not a good study, but has a citeable sound bite bottom line about the ratio of nuclear to solar waste which can be used as propaganda against the latter.
The TheEnergyCollective.com is funded by Siemens Energy and Royal Dutch Shell. Not surprised, but would have to look at rest of so called studies to assess a bias or agenda.
I am not too worried about low level nuclear waste which decays quickly, but on other end worried about the danger of high level nuclear waste if say a terrorist target, think about a 9/11 event ramming a plane into a spent fuel rod pool which could be Chernobyl times 50. A bit different risk than say cancer from an old solar panel tossed into a land fill.
Government should not debate or chose energy generation sources, however real costs should be added in by producers such as safe disposal/storage of toxic by-products, and costs not decided by politics. The current subsidies to solar are a total waste driven by lobbyists and political donations in search of corporate profits in the vise of being marketable as environmentally friendly when may be not. Half a $ billion wasted on Solyndra alone, and Elon Musk and Tesla using the old building now for second round of feeding. It is a blend of marketing, socialism, and crony capitalism lining someone’s pockets with green where the purchased perception of green or black is no more than a thin layer of paint.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar

“if say a terrorist target, think about a 9/11 event ramming a plane into a spent fuel rod pool which could be Chernobyl times 50. ”
No, Chernobyl was an operating reaction without moderating rods in place so it melted and caught fire. Ramming a plane into a spent rod pool would drown the occupants and put out the (jet fuel) fire.


Well said.

So far as I know, there aren’t any spent fuel rod pools in the middle of Manhattan, either…

Owen in GA

A plane crashing into one of the pools would cause a mess in the immediate vicinity, but would be cleaned up pretty quickly. Robots would be used to collect the scattered fuel casks and place them in another pool. There would be very little long term impact.
Of course, if we were reprocessing these rods and removing the useful isotopes and encasing the rest in glass for permanent storage, there would be no fuel rods in pools for people to worry about. All of these problems in nuclear power were CAUSED by political people who refused to look deeper into how this stuff really works.

” Robots would be used to collect the scattered fuel casks and place them in another pool.”

Robots are having a hard time in Fukishima: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fukushima-nuclear-robot-radiation-1.3973908

Tsk Tsk

First, these bots were going into a very hot zone which was the site of an actual meltdown. The cooling ponds aren’t that hot and while they will have problems if left exposed indefinitely they do have time to service them. But the hysteria’s cute. Really.

Tsk Tsk

All of these problems in nuclear power were CAUSED by political people who refused to look deeper into how this stuff really works.

Well the economics aren’t as great as once through so reprocessing has been a dud in the US. But, hey, the greed energy guys like to claim that their pony is coming real soon now if we just keep up the subsidies, so why not play the counterfactual game and claim that reprocessing and vitrification would be cost effective now if we had just spent decades investing in it?

Owen in GA

More like a better use for the waste stream. It should have been the process all along. Then the storage pools at the reactors wouldn’t be full of decades worth of spent fuel, just the last couple of years while waiting for a processing slot. At this point it is a cleanup problem more than just an economic one and the politics keep driving the costs through the roof. The antinuclear crowd is EXTREMELY good at frivolous lawfare.


The sediment thickness map is incorrect and entirely misses what is probably the best place for disposal of nuclear waste in bore holes, the Midcontinent Rift System, because it is entirely closed in by hard basement rock and is very deep. In Kansas and Iowa the depth is well over 10,000′.


Speaking of solar…..
The sun is set to ‘change form’ as NASA says solar minimum is on the way
The sun is heading into a period known as solar minimum, during which activity at the surface will ‘change form.’

DUMB QUESTION: Exactly what is/are the substance or substances that we are calling, “Toxic Waste From Solar Panels” ? Okay, I’ll Google it, while the rest of you shake your heads at my ignorance.

What exactly produces the waste? I need to see a list. Is it the panels themselves? Do panels wear out this fast that enough of them mount up in a short time span? Is it the chemicals in the panels? Is there leakage of chemicals? What?
I just do not know anything about this aspect of it.
Thanks for cluing me in. (^_^)

Depends on the panel type. First Solar’s CdTe (cadmium tellurium on glass) thin film is obviously toxic. But First Solar has its own 100% recycling program at end of life. For crystalline and polycrystaline silicon, there really isnt anything. Glass, doped silicon, copper, silver. The Japan study included the mounting frames made of aluminum. The articles cited are a little overwrought.

I Came I Saw I Left

I think their toxicity is comparable to printed circuit boards.


Depends to some degree on what country you are in and in the US, what state you are in. California has a list 50 miles long of chemicals known to cause cancer, many of which are probably used in the panels. I don’t think the definition of toxic is any where close to universal.

I Came I Saw I Left

Sell the panels on Craigslist for $1 apiece. They’d make good siding for a shed or small building.


But what if the plane explosion caused the spent fuel rods to be spewed in the air?
The at reactor pools at Fukushima were above ground (and some used MOX type fuel), and nearby was quite a bit larger secondary long term storage pond.
I also really doubt the water in the spent fuel pool would simply “put out the (jet fuel) fire.”
Merely having the water escape from the SNF pools, or no emergency power to cool reactors, would be comparable to what actually occurred, less or ignoring the possibility of a Chernobyl type event by a plane exploding. Tepco can give a yen figure assessment.
I will defer risk assessment, but comparing plutonium, etc., in spent fuel rods to a pile of used solar panels eventually stripped off a roof is not a good comparison. I am not sure what would stack better in a football stadium (and if authors thought about need to fill it with water), but makes good graphics. It is still apples and oranges despite any theoretic terrorist risk.

I Came I Saw I Left

Fukushima reactor #4’s spent fuel pool sits 100′ in the air on top of the damaged reactor building. If it had collapsed due to an earthquake or ground subsidence, the amount of radiation released to the atmosphere would threatened the entire northern hemisphere. Fortunately, they were able to empty the pool after about 3 years’ effort. We dodged a bullet.

Tsk Tsk

Threatened the northern hemisphere?! I see lots of ppl forgot their meds today.


The radiation in those ponds is almost 100% in the rods. Had the pond collapsed lots of mildly radioactive water would have spilled, and the rods would have laid there until a robot could be sent in to move them to another pond.


Shouldn’t we be looking at the toxic waste where the panels are produced? Driving a D9 into the storage area for toxic waste at a copper mine, or composite carcinogens stored on site, is a better comparison. Also, let’s assume the waste is immediately dumped into a river or water supply, just for this scenario. What if someone liberates stored or dumped arsenic used in gold mining in the 1800’s? Dumps it into a river because they don’t know it’s there. How many people die and how much cleanup? I agree there’s no half-life involved, but try and separate toxins from water and dirt.


Factor in the toxic gases used in the manufacturing of the solar panels.

Curious George

Yes, you are a robot.


When it comes to the disposal of nuclear waste, why not fight “fire with fire?” – i.e. Instead of having multiple borehole disposal sites, just have a few deep sites that are designed to do the following:
Once the nuclear waste in a deep hole builds up to a certain volume, lower a nuclear device for exploding its transmuting nuclear particles into the waste, thereby turning the waste into a potpourri of hopefully, (have to do some research here), radioactive isotopes with shorter half-lives of radiation. Repeat until a site becomes overused – whatever criteria that may involve.
OK, I’m sure such an approach is fraught with many problems – not the least of which would be to sell the idea to greenies.


Won’t work. The troublesome part of nuclear waste is the transuranics, particularily the plutonium. The strongly radioactive fission products become harmless fairly quickly. To make your idea work you would have to get all the transuranics to fission. You just work out how big a nuclear explosion that would take and how big the resulting nuclear explosion would be to realiza that it isn’t a good idea.


Storing solar plant toxic waste does not require expensive drilling technology. I am not an expert but I guess that a shed in the desert could do the job. At some point of time a recycling technology could make it even cheaper. It could easily be say 100 times less expensive than nuclear waste storage. The final cost will be hardly $1 per kWh.

Stephen Greene

side note: today is the first day in the past 8 days that the temp has risen above 80F.at my house in central Indiana. NOT a hot summer so far!


Has everyone forgotten the programs, cost, effort, etc. associated with those small mercury batteries? The asbestos removal programs?
How soon till the local garbage dump becomes a supper fund site?


Over the years, asbestos removal rules seem to have become more lax – at least where I live. At first, asbestos removal crews would wear Level-A hazmat suits, and the removal cost would be very high. But now, I know workmen who remove asbestos popcorn ceilings just come in and remove it in their every-day work clothes and dump the stuff who-knows-where?

Gary Pearse

How about lighting your house with curly mercury lamps run on solar energy. The greens don’t care about the real environment or human, bat’s bald eagles, etc health.
Asbestos, CFCs and now the CO2 molecule, what’s next?
The permissible “asbestiform” particles per m^3 is an order of magnitude less than what is found in natural streams or wind blown in metamorphic terrain of which half of Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, etc is made out of and where the healthiest people on the planet live.
The ozone hole has been growing again despite the Montreal protocol.
Buy they won’t let go of a busted theory.


Toxic solar panel waste is only one of the environmental problems from solar energy. Solar power rare earth metal strip mining operations pollute vast amounts of ground water. Solar farms destroy acres of wildlife habitat. In addition, solar panel construction, maintenance, backup and decommissioning consume more energy than the panels can possibly produce in their lifetime. There is nothing “green” about solar power.

Curious George

Solar power rare earth? That’s a new one. Link, please.


(These links are not hard to find, if you actually are interested in looking for them.)

In the event of an EMP attack, every PV solar panel facing the sky will instantly be destroyed. So, there is yet another side to the disposal story.


Twenty years ago while in the military I was taught that all solid state electronic devices above ground or connected to an antenna would be destroyed beyond repair. Now that most of the needs home solar panels have micro-inverters it seems to me that these too will be “fried.”
My years in the electrical power generation industry tell me that the best chance for power will be the old pneumatic and mechanical control/protection system plants. Have personally witnessed direct lightning hits with immediate recovery.

Sam R.

The worst thing that can happen to a solar panel from an attack is to be rendered nonfunctional. A nuclear plant that is bombed would be a whole different problem…


Nuclear plants are designed with the risk of bombing in mind. To my knowledge, no thought is given to broken or damaged solar panels and what risks are associated with those. I have read firemen do not like the panels due to electrocution risks. You comparison is weak, to say the least.


Sam R: kind of a moot point if it is a nuclear bomb that hits the nuclear power plant, isn’t it? If a foe can get a bomber with conventional bombs into our country, we would have more problems than the nuclear plant, wouldn’t we? Like all out war maybe?
PS: please see my response to your 8:39 post. It is always my pleasure to get into a discussion where I can share my knowledge of radiation effects.


Which further supports the argument that they, solar/wind will be worthless regardless of how far they are “distributed” after a CME, Carrington Event or EMP. Which envirowhackos would be less likely to loss due to distribution.


Nuclear plants are shielded from EMPs.

Curious George

I have a tile roof in an earthquake country. Does anybody know what guarantees are provided for rooftop solar panels in a M6+ earthquake?


If faced with the resposibility to dispose of high volumes of waste I can easily imagine European manufacturers of PV cells taking one of two courses: wind up the company after 25 or so years; or export the waste to somewhere offering cheaper landfill costs than in Europe.

jim heath

It’s all Polly’s fault she just wanted tea. https://www.songsforteaching.com/folk/pollyputthekettleon.php


I’ve included this before. It’s a reclaimed uranium mine. Cattle graze nearby and there’s a public fishing area.comment image?cb=1487895224

Curious George

Consider paring it down to 100×100 pixels. Equally useless.


Not sure what you are asking—is the image too large? Is is unreadable?

Curious George

Large, no. Unreadable, yes.


I see—the problem is I can’t link to my blog and this is probably a pdf file rather than a Jpeg. I’ll see what I can do.

Gunga Din

I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
By definition, there’s no such thing as “green” toxic waste.
Sure, the greens have no problem wasting our green. Many of them consider our green to be toxic so wasting it is part of the world “going green”.
Now, nuclear power, on the other hand, actually works. So despite no CO2 emissions, it would be “toxic” even if it had no waste.


Another political myth is dispelled. Green drivers. Gray converters.
Utility-scale photovoltaic panels (and windmills) are low-density, non-renewable, intermittent energy converters that are a blight on the environment. This characteristic of “green” energy products should be considered when determining the weighting of technologies in the energy production basket.


Excellent analysis.

Chuck Wortman

s important to note that although much of the waste produced is considered toxic (in the form of carcinogenic cadmium-contaminated water), there is no evidence it has harmed human health. Conversely, energy derived from natural gas and coal-fired power plants creates more than 10 times more hazardous waste than the same energy created by a solar panel. Although the U.S. solar industry has been dutiful about reporting its waste and sending it to approved storage facilities, coal-fired power plants send mercury, cadmium and other toxins directly into the air, which pollutes water and land around the facility.

Michael Jankowski

10 times more waste and thousands times more energy.


When talking radiation and Chernobyl, it’s worthwhile looking at how things are going there now:
“It may seem strange that Chernobyl, an area known for the deadliest nuclear accident in history, could become a refuge for all kinds of animals—from moose, deer, beaver, and owls to more exotic species like brown bear, lynx, and wolves—but that is exactly what Shkvyria and some other scientists think has happened. Without people hunting them or ruining their habitat, the thinking goes, wildlife is thriving despite high radiation levels.”
Some people even want to visit:
“Can there be a more unlikely location for visitors than the corner of Ukraine that was the site of one of the most notorious and disturbing incidents ever to cast a shadow across our planet? Cast your mind back, if you will – and if you are of a suitable age to remember – to the bleakness of the east European spring three decades ago, and ask yourself: Could you ever imagine that the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant would be a tourist destination?”

Say cheese! Tourists basking in the deadly Chernobyl radiationcomment image


One does not become a contrarian, just by being wrong.


I’m all for nuclear power as baseload but to compare toxicity of the nuclear waste to toxicity of solar panels is beyond a joke.

Gunga Din

Solar panel waste.
Nuclear waste is collected and stored safely in specified sites.
Dumping old solar panels goes to … the same place the mercury from burnt out compact florescent light bulbs go? Back into the wide, wide world?
After the CAGW scare dies, will they throw “solar powered” tuna against the wall?

Solar panels essentiallly do what CO2 purports to do; but more efficiently.
If you wish to warm up the planet, then plaster it with Solar Panels.
They are designed to capture as much radiation as possible, prevent it being reflected back and to convert the absorbed energy to a higher level as heat or electricity. Result: Captured energy – >> increased temperature.
Weird Green logic!