Accession Number:

ADA106884

Title:

Coal and Nuclear Wastes--Both Potential Contributors to Environmental and Health Problems.

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC ENERGY AND MINERALS DIV

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1981-09-21

Pagination or Media Count:

26.0

Abstract:

The literature confirmed that wastes produced by both fuel cycles present the potential for significant environmental and health hazards. Although coal has been used considerably longer than nuclear, its environmental and health effects are not as fully understood. In fact, coal wastes were not even recognized as potentially hazardous until recent years. Thus, little information has been compiled to measure or evaluate coal waste risks. Nuclear wastes, on the other hand, were always considered potentially harmful because of their recognized radioactivity and the perceived consequences of an accident. Because of this, the possible environmental and health effects of all nuclear wastes have been carefully studied, evaluated, and documented by both the Federal Government and the nuclear industry. The biggest uncertainty with nuclear wastes is the lack of a demonstrated solution to the permanent isolation of high-level waste or spent reactor fuel. Since coal and nuclear wastes present different types of hazards and the information available on these wastes is not comparable, we did not believe it was possible to determine if either waste type is more of a hazard than the other. Nonetheless, several comparisons of the waste amounts, potential hazards, and past environmental and health effects resulting from each respective fuel cycle can be made that provide a perspective on the individual hazards of each waste type. Author

Subject Categories:

  • Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy
  • Nuclear Physics and Elementary Particle Physics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE