Nuclear waste and nuclear power


Sir, – I am happy to discuss the question of nuclear waste, as requested by John Collins (Letters, November 21st).

Most nuclear waste from power plants is low level (small amounts of short lived radioactivity) which accounts for 90 per cent of radioactive waste by volume produced by a nuclear power plant; it is similar to low-level medical and industrial waste that is already stored safely in Ireland.

Intermediate-level waste accounts for the 7 per cent from resins and materials which would require management until the nuclear plant was being decommissioned at the end of its life.

High-level waste includes spent fuel and accounts for about 3 per cent of the total volume of radioactive waste produced by a nuclear power plant. The high-level nuclear waste is compact and is safely stored in concrete casks and pools, becoming less radioactive over time.

Recently there have been leasing agreements where spent fuel is returned to the vendor country for reprocessing, or storage as potential reuse in an advanced reactor. Such reprocessing through a vendor agreement could be a useful option for Ireland in the future. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

Sir, – I am delighted to see that Eirgrid has selected Cork as the place to build a converter station for the proposed IrelandFrance Celtic Interconnector (News, November 23rd).

Tim O’Brien writes that, when operational in 2026, it is hoped that we will benefit from cheaper electricity prices, given rates are lower in France.

More than 12 years ago Bertie Ahern described nuclear energy as a “false promise and a failed solution”. At that time also, a certain Dick Roche was “vigorously opposing development of British nuclear plants” and was assuring us that any imported electricity “would not contain nuclear”.

I believe that around 70 per cent of France’s electricity is nuclear generated.

Where are Messrs Ahern and Roche when we need them? – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.