Sir, – Promoters of nuclear power are ignoring the fact that high level radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel requires well-designed storage for periods ranging from tens of thousands to a million years ("Given carbon emissions failure, should Ireland look at small nuclear reactors?", Science , March 14th).
The engineer, physicist and Nobel Prize winner Hannes Alfvén identified two fundamental prerequisites for effective management of radioactive waste: stable geological formations and stable human institutions over hundreds of thousands of years.
No known human civilisation has ever endured for so long, and that we should place the burden of minding our radioactive waste on our descendants is unethical.
We take all the useful energy from the fuel in a generation or so and leave the waste burden to our descendants for perhaps 3,000 generations. They will receive no benefit whatsoever.
Ireland should keep its law prohibiting the use of nuclear fission for power generation. – Yours, etc,