The author deconstructs an announcement to find the real reasons behind the shipment of a large quantity of nuclear waste (it appears that most of it is from Britain's nuclear power plants) to the US allegedly because of terrorist considerations.
The announcement draws new attention to an old issue: how to find a long-term solution to nuclear waste. Countries with atomic weapons or civilian nuclear power have been wrestling with this for several decades. This is partly because the problem was neglected for years, but more fundamentally because governments have failed to develop a strategy acceptable to the communities affected.
This reflects the uniqueness of the problem, of course - we are talking about substances which could harm human health for tens of thousands of years into the future. It raises profound ethical issues of equity between generations.
The scientific community does in fact agree on how to dispose of these materials safely: deep underground in appropriate geology such as clay or granite, with well engineered radiation barriers as an extra defence. Yet only Sweden and Finland, with political systems built on more trust and consensus than most countries, have a clear repository plan - and it will be several years before they become operational.