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JimD

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Nuclear proliferation
« on: November 08, 2013, 05:07:40 PM »
We hear a lot in the news here in the States about Iran's potential nuclear ambitions and we have organized punishing sanctions on them over the years as well as threatened them with military force (as has Israel).  But here is another issue in the region which may come as a surprise to many.

Saudi Arabia is reputed to have paid Pakistan for nuclear weapons which are sitting in Pakistan and available on demand.

Quote
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight..

...Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.

Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring."

In the late 1980s they secretly bought dozens of CSS-2 ballistic missiles from China. ...

This summer experts at defence publishers Jane's reported the completion of a new Saudi CSS-2 base with missile launch rails aligned with Israel and Iran....

One senior Pakistani, speaking on background terms, confirmed the broad nature of the deal - probably unwritten - his country had reached with the kingdom and asked rhetorically "what did we think the Saudis were giving us all that money for? It wasn't charity."

Another, a one-time intelligence officer from the same country, said he believed "the Pakistanis certainly maintain a certain number of warheads on the basis that if the Saudis were to ask for them at any given time they would immediately be transferred." ....

I note the large number of reports in the press over the last couple of years related to Saudi disenchantment with US mid-east policy (especially Syria and previously related to the invasion of Iraq).  One wonders what the limits are of US influence with the Saudi's in the evolving middle east.  If Iran and Saudi (bitter religious enemies) are reaching the point where they are pursuing such weapons due to their fear of each other nothing is likely to dissuade them from obtaining them.  It will be like the US and Russia in the 40's and 50's.  This is not a comforting situation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24823846
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ggelsrinc

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2013, 08:46:29 PM »
The proliferation of nuclear weapons is proportional to the resources to create them. Since the availability of isotopes to create nuclear weapons is so naturally limited on the Earth's surface, it's the proliferation of present day commercial nuclear reactor designs that are the biggest problem. It isn't possible to mine the way to becoming a modern nuclear power without establishing a commercial nuclear industry and developing those conditions to make trans-uranium isotopes suitable to make abundant atomic weapons. Yes, a nation could become a nuclear power in the sense of making atomic weapons and even hydrogen bombs with mining efforts, but can't mine their way to acquire very many of them, because the materials to make many nuclear weapons are too scarce on the Earth's surface. Ballistic missile development is also required to deliver the weapons.

I don't see the world setting back and allowing Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, nor do I foresee Saudi or Iran becoming a modern nuclear weapons power in many decades. Regardless, it's still foolish to allow another nation to go down that route.

There are ways to generate electricity from nuclear power that don't support nuclear proliferation. The physics required to make abundant nuclear weapons isn't going to change with time.

The Saudis can't do jack and shouldn't be a concern. It takes more than money.   

JimD

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 05:49:20 PM »
France and Saudi Arabia nuclear cooperation

Quote
...France has been the first country to sign government to government agreement on nuclear and energy because we do think that taking it into account the huge program the Saudi government wants to implement in the nuclear field and France has a lot to bring in terms of the best nuclear technology in the world.”....

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131003182448
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

bligh8

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2013, 06:34:30 AM »
Nuclear weapons and Pakistan could keep a thoughtful man awake at night. The Saudi's are  crazy and ambitious.... even more so than Iran.











The fish are our sentinels, as they go, we go.

wili

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2013, 07:02:57 AM »
Fortunately there is not such thing as a black market anywhere in the world, so we can rest assured that only nations that can actually mine the resources to build a nuke in their own backyards are going to be able to build one.

What a relief.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Nuclear proliferatio
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2013, 04:03:07 PM »
Nuclear weapons and Pakistan could keep a thoughtful man awake at night. The Saudi's are  crazy and ambitious.... even more so than Iran.

Now why would you say that about the Saudi's?  Crazy?  In what way?  Ambitious?  In some sense different from other people's and countries?  Worse than the Iranians?  I would ask exactly the same questions about the Iranians. 

Nuclear proliferation does indeed keep many awake at night for good reason.  The policies and ambitions of the rich and wealthy nations contributes greatly to the problems of proliferation.  France and the US were actively complicit in Israel obtaining nuclear weapons.  Thus pretty much guaranteeing the 'ambition' of Muslim states to bring their 'self defense' capabilities up to the levels of the Jewish state.  The US and Russia were complicit in India obtaining nuclear weapons and thus guaranteeing Pakistan would do anything possible to balance the threat to their existence.  China and the US mismanaged the situation in Korea and we know the result of that.  Though we can claim that South Africa dismantled its capabilities the only reason they were capable of developing what they did was due to the actions of Israeli's, Pakistani's, Germans and ultimately back in the chain the US.  Iranian and Saudi nuclear ambitions are not just based upon the religious  conflict between them, but on the real threat they face from the rich and powerful countries which depend on their resources to maintain their preeminent position in the world.  During the time when Saudi Arabia and Iran were functionally colonies of the US, British, and Ottoman empires they were milked hard for their resources.  They are not fools and they have not forgotten and they could not possibly be mistaken in their belief that they are under threat from bigger powers.  We are dealing with the unintended consequences of proliferation policies going back 50 years.  We might want to look in the mirror before we assign blame. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

bligh8

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2013, 09:20:52 PM »
O the problem is most definitely ours and ours alone. We justified the use of nuclear weapons for economic reasons not military in ww2. The Saudi's were the ones on the 9/11 planes ... their actions were fear based, thus crazy. One cannot blame them, as it was like you said, decades of oppression at our and the hands of the British. The financial wealth within the empire(saudi's) breeds power and contempt and collusion type thinking and actions based on their own comfort and projected survivability. Backed by that kind of wealth the considerations are scary.
Due to our economic sanctions Iran is trying to survive economically in a world in which a free and open market has many countries trying to do just that, without crippling sanctions.
Pakistan and India have a total of perhaps 250 nuclear weapons...more than enough to bring the end of days.  The border along the Kashmir frontier is truly out of control. Some think that's a product of gw resulting in a shrinking water supply and there's the rub.
The Pakistan minister has said, it's when, not if.
It's a hell of world we've brought on.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2013, 01:34:13 AM »
Nuclear weapons and Pakistan could keep a thoughtful man awake at night. The Saudi's are  crazy and ambitious.... even more so than Iran.

I hope India and Pakistan will come to an agreement and rid themselves of nuclear weapons. It wouldn't hurt for Europe to lead the way and make another continent nuclear free. This is not the time for nations to threaten other nations, if there ever was a good time to do it.









The fish are our sentinels, as they go, we go.

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2014, 10:05:20 AM »
25 years on at America's most contaminated nuclear waste site
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26658719

Anne

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2014, 12:15:41 PM »
We should call this the ASIF-there-isn't-enough-to-worry-about forum.

The nuclear legacy will live on for generations. Meanwhile, in Ukraine,
Quote
there are four nuclear power plants with 15 reactors online providing roughly half of the country's energy needs which makes it practically impossible to shut them down during the crisis. All of the reactors stem from the Soviet era, went on the grid in the 1980s and are similar to the Chernobyl reactor that blew in 1986 causing the worst nuclear accident in history. Ukraine's largest plant in Zaporizhia is located about 200 kilometers from Donetsk, the epicenter of the clash between pro-Russian militants and the Kyiv government.

They are at risk of sabotage or neglect.
http://www.dw.de/ukraine-crisis-raises-risk-for-nuclear-reactors/a-17694776

Meanwhile, in New Mexico - you may remember the kitty litter episode. Los Alamos National Laboratory packed 57 barrels of nuclear waste with nitrate salts and organic kitty litter, a combination thought to have caused a heat reaction and radiation release that contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad in February.
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Initial investigations [...] have blamed [...] a slow erosion of the safety culture at the 15-year-old, multibillion-dollar site
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10842691/Cat-litter-may-have-caused-nuclear-leak-in-New-Mexico.html

In the very best of circumstances it is going to be hard to avoid a slow erosion of the safety culture, human nature being what it is. The very best of circumstances would include things like - I dunno - a stable government, an economy capable of supporting maintenance, predictable weather patterns, zero risk of coastal inundation...

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 06:46:30 PM »

ritter

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2014, 06:57:42 PM »
We should call this the ASIF-there-isn't-enough-to-worry-about forum.

Oh, Anne. Stop fretting. What could possibly go wrong?  ;)

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2014, 09:44:35 AM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2014, 06:16:51 PM »

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2014, 10:47:05 PM »

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2014, 07:19:41 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2014, 05:07:36 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2014, 12:01:29 AM »
Government Looking For Trains To Haul Radioactive Waste, But There's Nowhere For Them To Go
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/31/radioactive-trains_n_5744084.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2014, 06:04:17 PM »

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2014, 02:34:23 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2014, 06:07:59 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2014, 10:01:16 AM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2014, 07:38:02 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2014, 08:48:39 PM »

Laurent

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Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2014, 11:19:25 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2014, 09:32:09 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2014, 07:12:08 PM »
Quote
From a climate summit meeting in Lima, Peru, in mid-December, he sent an email emphasizing the parallel between climate change and nuclear issues. “They both affect the security and survival of humanity,” Mr. de Brum wrote. “Finally it comes down to this: What would it gain mankind to reach a peaceful resolution of the climate change threat, only to be wiped out by a nuclear misunderstanding?”

A Former Ground Zero Goes to Court Against the World’s Nuclear Arsenals
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/world/a-former-ground-zero-goes-to-court-against-the-worlds-nuclear-arsenals-.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2015, 08:44:45 PM »
It Took 2.1 Years For Fukushima's Radioactive Plume to Reach Us
http://gizmodo.com/it-took-2-1-years-for-fukushimas-radioactive-plume-to-r-1676881261

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2015, 10:34:51 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2015, 05:30:15 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #35 on: February 19, 2015, 09:40:23 AM »

solartim27

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #36 on: February 19, 2015, 07:22:50 PM »
The big problem is that it can be from normal operation, not faulty construction.

"In carrying out tests related to theme 2 during the spring of 2014, a fracture toughness test revealed unexpected results, which suggested that the mechanical properties of the material were more strongly influenced by radiation than experts had expected. As a precaution both reactors were immediately shut down again."

As nuclear reactors age, radiation causes pressure vessel damage, or embrittlement, of the steel mostly as a result of the constant irradiation by neutrons which gradually destroys the metal atom by atom - inducing radioactivity and transmutation into other elements.

Another problem is that hydrogen from cooling water can migrate into reactor vessel cracks. "The phenomenon is like a road in winter where water trickles into tiny cracks, freezes, and expands, breaking up the road", says Greenpeace Belgium energy campaigner Eloi Glorieux.

"Iit appears that hydrogen from the water within the vessel that cools the reactor core is getting inside the steel, reacting, and destroying the pressure vessel from within."

He adds that the findings mean that "the safety of every nuclear reactor on the planet could be significantly compromised ... What we are seeing in Belgium is potentially devastating for nuclear reactors globally due to the increased risk of a catastrophic failure."
FNORD

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2015, 09:16:43 PM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2015, 01:16:02 PM »
Feds Approve Grand Canyon Uranium Mining!
http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/2523/

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2015, 10:14:43 AM »

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2016, 11:07:07 PM »
Too much of a bad thing? World awash with waste plutonium
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2986959/too_much_of_a_bad_thing_world_awash_with_waste_plutonium.html
Quote
As worldwide stocks of plutonium increase, lightly-armed British ships are about to carry an initial 330kg of the nuclear bomb metal for 'safekeeping' in the US, writes Paul Brown. But it's only the tip of a global 'plutonium mountain' of hundreds of tonnes nuclear power's most hazardous waste product.

Laurent

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Re: Nuclear proliferation
« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2016, 08:20:32 PM »
Radioactive waste dogs Germany despite abandoning nuclear power
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075615-radioactive-waste-dogs-germany-despite-abandoning-nuclear-power/
Quote
Major problems at a salt mine where 126,000 drums of radioactive debris are stored are fuelling public distrust of long-term waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce from Asse, Germany
Germany mine

Ronald Frommann/Clean Energy Wire

Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface.

It could take decades to resolve. In the meantime, excavations needed to extract the drums could cause new collapses and make the problem worse.

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them,” says Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), as we tour the mine.

This is just one part of Germany’s nuclear nightmare. The country is also wrestling a growing backlog of spent fuel.

And it has to worry about vast volumes of radioactive rubble that will be created as all the country’s 17 nuclear plants are decommissioned by 2022 – a decision taken five years ago, in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The final bill for decommissioning power plants and getting rid of the waste is estimated to be at least €36 billion.
Germany mine nuclear

Ronald Frommann/Clean Energy Wire

Some 300,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level waste requiring long-term shielding, including what is dug from the Asse mine, is earmarked for final burial at the Konrad iron mine in Lower Saxony.

What will happen to the high-level waste, the spent fuel and other highly radioactive waste that must be kept safe for up to a million years is still debated.

Later this year, a Final Storage Commission of politicians and scientists will advise on criteria for choosing a site where deep burial or long-term storage should be under way by 2050.

But its own chairman, veteran parliamentarian Michael Muller, says that timetable is unlikely to be met. “We all believe deep geology is the best option, but I’m not sure if there is enough [public] trust to get the job done,” he says.
Lack of trust

Many anti-nuclear groups are boycotting the commission.

Although they agree Germany must deal with its own waste, they don’t trust the process of choosing a site. They fear that the authorities are secretly fixed on reviving plans for burial at Gorleben, another Lower Saxony salt dome.

Currently, 113 flasks containing high-level waste are housed in a temporary store there.

“One flask of high-level waste contains as much radioactivity as 30 Hiroshima bombs,” says Wolfgang Ehmke, who has been a campaigner for 40 years. “We cannot bury this waste here in northern Germany [because] there could be 10 ice ages, with glaciers scraping away the rocks, before the waste is safe.”

The protesters have wide popular support. And the problems at the Asse salt mine have led to further distrust of engineers and their solutions.

The abandoned mine was bought by the German government in 1965, ostensibly to research the suitability of salt domes for disposing of radioactive waste. Yet after two years, without waiting for scientific reports, the authorities secretly turned it into a cheap and supposedly permanent nuclear dump.

By then, 90 per cent of the mine’s 5 million cubic metres of salt had been excavated, and the mine was already buckling under the weight of the rocks above, says Ingo Bautz of the BfS, who oversees activities at the site.

As the walls bent, cracks formed. And because the miners had dug to within 10 metres of the impervious rock, in 1988, underground water started to trickle in.

The true state of affairs only became public knowledge in 2008. Despite hurried backfilling of much of the mine, the degradation continues. Brine seeps in at a rate of around 12,000 litres a day, threatening to flush radioactive material to the surface. “It is a disastrous situation,” says Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Environment.
Painfully slow

In 2011, the BfS ruled that the waste had to be removed. But the task is hard and likely to take decades. Just checking the state of the 13 chambers holding the waste drums is painfully slow. Engineers drilling to reach them through 20 metres of rock don’t know whether the drums have leaked, and of course they cannot risk a release of radioactivity.

Since work started in 2012, just one borehole has been completed into one of the chambers. Engineers say they will need to sink a second shaft and open up big new galleries where the drums can be made safe before they are retrieved.

But exploratory drilling has revealed that the salt dome is not as big as thought, says Bautz.

And unless care is taken to keep clear of the geological barrier, the excavations risk allowing more water in. “We can’t rule out that the mine could flood,” he says. “If that happened, retrieval would be impossible. We would backfill it all.”

Nothing will be moved until at least 2033, says Bautz. Meanwhile the bills keep rising. It costs €140 million a year just to keep the mine safe for work to continue. The final bill will run into many billions.

Is it worth it? Many experts fear that digging up the drums, with consequent risks of radioactive leaks, could create a much greater hazard than leaving them where they are.

A former top official on the project, geochemist Michael Siemann, told the media in 2012 that safe retrieval was unrealistic. “Many people know this, but no one wants to say it.”

“There could be a conflict between protecting future generations and creating risks for today,” Bautz concedes.

Germany may ultimately perform a service to the world if it can pioneer solutions that other nuclear countries may look to in the future, including the UK, which is struggling with its own waste legacy.

But if Germans ever thought that abandoning nuclear power would end their nuclear problems, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Read more: Waste away: Nuclear power’s eternal problem

Fred Pearce’s costs during the field trip to the mine were paid for by Clean Energy Wire, an independent non-profit media service.