Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

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Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

Nuclear waste poses a serious threat to public health if it's not stored in a safe place. John Oliver explains why the United States desperately needs to build a metaphorical toilet for all that waste.

Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

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96 thoughts on “Nuclear Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)”

  1. “We all wanted to defeat the nazis, because we pretty much all agreed that they were bad at the time” Ah yes, John casually discarding fascist and antisemitic movements everywhere in America the time. The typical alt-left way of distorting history to serve their own agenda.

    PS: I’m NOT a nazi and the alt-left are leftists who want to force their beliefs onto you and shame you if you don’t agree or sometimes even use violence

  2. Nuclear energy still causes less deaths per unit of power produced than any other energy source look it up (although solar might be ahead of it now sence solar is getting more efficenct)

  3. 1. You can recycle a lot of waste to remove the heavy elements which gives off the ionic (bad) radiation and put them back in the reactors so the waste doesn’t last thousands of years. The heavier the element the longer the half-life. France 75% of energy and Japan 30% do this and they are the most reliant on nuclear energy. Still some waste but greatly reduced in quantity and half-life. The U.S. doesn’t do this because of cost (sort of) and the refined recycled material can be plutonium and would fall under nuclear proliferation (technically).
    2. Thorium reactors don’t produce power. STOP SAYING THAT! They are a breeder reactor to make Uranium or Plutonium for standard nuclear reactors. This just could be used to greatly reduce the cost (maybe) or just greatly increase the supply of fuel for reactors as Thorium is much more common.
    3. Banana’s are radioactive, light is radiation, you are radioactive. Learn that radiation is a very broad and generic term. Know the difference between ionic radiation and other types of radiation before you go on about how banana’s turn us all into Dr. Manhattan or the Hulk.

  4. Kind of deceptive. The “Volume” of general nuclear waste is not a good representation of what America has to deal with. In reality there are multiple tiers of contamination levels that range from equipment used once and disposed of, to the very dangerous plutonium produced. You cannot lump both together under one term and sell it to us as it all being highly dangerous as plutonium. While plutonium has a crazy long half life, the equipment used like tools, clothing, and other equipment might only need isolation for a decade or so.

  5. The point that we need a place to store nuclear waste is well made, but the alarmist slant here misguides. Nuclear power can be done safely, and so can waste storage.

  6. Well hey, at least if something happens, it’s gonna take out New Jersey. I’m a little surprised they didn’t go with Florida but it’s still a pretty good choice

  7. *FAKE NEWS!!*

    Radiation can’t melt wood beams!!
    Nuclear waste gives many Americans super powers and abilities!!
    Demo-cucks are destroying our radioactive heritage!

    Make America Glow Green Again!

  8. Well, i think I found what Trump could spend that $1 trillion for infrastructure on. Who else thinks he’ll completely ignore this problem and spend the money on something way dumber?

  9. Bostons march wasn’t a nazi march it was a free speech march by conservatives that was sabotaged by false reporting and actors dressed as nazis.

  10. Hey fuckpotato writers, I know you read this dogshit, so do a piece on Lead use prior to 1980, and compare Trump’s mental health to the known effects of long term Lead poisoning. You are going to be fucking blown away by the research, and how little anyone talks about what is obviously a pandemic scale of cognitive impairment. I double-dog dare you dainty little bitches.

  11. +Bookmeister I don’t care enough about this conversation to even make an attempt to discredit you at any serious level. The only argument I have (and need) is the simple observation of you trying to pass a lot of hot air by arguing semantics. That will do, really. Everything you have typed ITT is intellectually subpar, and thus require very little effort from anyone with just an average to modest level of IQ to “discredit”. I’m just pointing out the obvious.

    Well except for you maybe.

  12. Yucca Mountain is totally safe, put the waste there and problem solved. Greenpeace got it halted, not to solve the storage problem, but to hamper nuclear energy as a whole. Even though it’s by far the safest most potent form of clean energy available.

  13. Michael Farník I grew up in Pa and moved to south jersey closer to Philadelphia towards end of high school . I judged it before I got there and was surprised. I recently moved to the northern part closer to NYC and was stunned at how different it was (in a good way) It’s a state of diverse landscapes and things to do. Mountains, beaches, cities, cute small towns, lakes, pine barrens, tons of activities, good authentic food, etc. Depends entirely on where you are whether the vibe is rural, suburban or urban. Something for everyone. Only shitty thing is housing costs and taxes. South jersey is a bit cheaper though.

  14. Love how 9 people upvoted some dunce who thinks there’s such a thing as electricity as an energy source.

  15. Thing is though, it’s an ever increasing problem. By the time that death count starts rivaling that of the other energy sources we’ll be waist deep in nuclear waste and it’s gonna be there for thousands of years. So essentially, yeah, if we wait until the actual effects are as bad or worse than other energies it’ll already be too late.

  16. 2:06
    What is he talking about? It depends on the amount of radioactive plutonium and the duration of exposure. If you wait 10 half-lives, the amount of isotopes (and thus radiation levels) will drop by a factor of 1000. If the initial amount was 10,000 times the harmful amount, you need to wait 13.3 half-life periodes before it’s safe. If it’s 1.5 times the harmful dose, you (only) have to wait (only) 0.3 half-life times. And chronic exposure and acute exposure have different safety thresholds. If he’d specify the initial amount of radioactive isotopes, which isotope exactly and the duration of exposure, then he could have said something about this, but the 10 half lives rules doesn’t..

    I liked the content, but please don’t needlessly scaremonger, nuclear power is scary enough on its own.

    This would have been the perfect opportunity to educate people on what radiation actually is and what it does (and what it isn’t and what it doesn’t). Yes it’s dangerous and scary, but lots of people are scared without knowing what they are scared of.

    Not all radiation is the same, “alpha” particles can’t even travel through a thin piece of paper but are very damaging to skin and are super dangerous when ingested, “beta” particles can’t travel through something like plexiglas and are less destructive then alpha particles, and for “gamma” radiation, you need thick walls of concrete, water or lead to protect yourself, but is much less energetic, causing less tissue damage, but your DNA gets bombarded, resulting in dead, damaged or out-of-control cells.

    Not radioactive materials are the same. Some emit only alpha’s, beta’s, gamma’s or a combination. Some are very unstable, which means they decay fast. A small amount will emit all its radiation in a short periode of time, with risk of acute radiation sickness, skin burns, internal damage,… But after a relatively short periode, the risk is gone and everything is safe again. Others are much more stable, resulting in a very long half life, but emitting less radiation in a small periode. Danger here is having an area that is contaminated for centuries, if not millennia, where people can’t life long term due to chronic radiation syndrome. It’s also possible that you ingest these isotopes, and if you have bad luck with the chemistry of these elements, they can stick to you in your body a long time, making it even more dangerous.

    These radioactive isotopes are not just harmful though. Medicine is using the knowledge of radiation to treat people or use it with the diagnosis. There are certainly risks involved in nuclear fusion, but also rewards. It’s up to us as a society how we balance these risks up to the rewards.

  17. Yes, because the effects of the waste aren’t being taken into account by wannabe stupid shits like you. If we pretend there is no waste, you are correct, however.

  18. Steve okay I no longer need to troll the comment section…well said sir…at least someone knows something

  19. Edgar R.R. Wilde+   I know, but it makes no sense. I agree with Rozanna Barqawi’s post. I’m from New Jersey, and it’s really irritating to see so many people who know nothing about the state make these inane jokes about it. Yes, there are parts of New Jersey that are not so great–but you can probably say that about most states. New Jersey is very expensive to live in, but it’s quite a lovely little state, with a rich history, more than 100 miles of beaches, beautiful country roads that wind through picturesque little towns. It’s not “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives.”

  20. Sam Seder of The Majority Report often mentions the subject you are commenting about.

    Look it up – I double-dog dare you dainty little bitches.

  21. I like most of of John Oliver’s segments, but this one really rubbed me the wrong way and it makes him look like a biased fear monger, the exact kind of people we’ve been trying to get rid of with this show. He selected segments without context and blew the negative consequences way out of proportion. Many of the problems with nuclear waste he brings up are from long ago and were illegal, others are mistakes we will learn from. But there is no catastrophe in store for us if some nuclear waste is displaced or misplaced. It is called waste for a reason, and as far as waste goes- is relatively low in volume and inert.

    Bottom line- Dont make jokes to perpetuate that nuclear power/waste is extremely deadly. It just isn’t. Nuclear power, especially modern, is the safest power source we have available besides non-combustion renewables, and the environmental effects per watt are less than solar. I cant believe that the same person who has torn through the coal and oil industry many times blindsides logic and goes for cheap shots and lies.

  22. We don’t need a lesson in nuclear physics, there is enough of the highly toxic radiation to last centuries. It is extremely toxic, poisonous to the soil if it leaks and hangs around for a long time. This stuff isn’t a nuclear bomb that emits lots of short lived but deadly gamma particles, it hangs around forever essentially and we don’t have a good way to keep it stored for long periods of time.

    Other problem is NIMYBO syndrome, which is why there isn’t a coherent strategy, no one wants it. Even salt reactors are ungodly expensive and fusion power still has huge technical and engineering hurdles.

  23. Well now we know that instead of investing money to ban transgender individuals from the military, we could put those dollars into managing our nuclear waste so it doesn’t contaminate our planet.

  24. I thought the same! I love Troma flicks and Uncle Lloyd Kaufman. Toxie forever! Also, Class of Nuke Em High, another Troma waste classic.

  25. not only this but people dont seem to understand a low half life means that it gives off radiation slowly in a small amount.
    look at isotopes with a half life of a week. they are way more dangerous. plutonium does next to nothing.

  26. Steve Thorium itself does not produce energy. What it does do is give us U-233. Breeder reactors can give standard reactors that uranium, but the reason why thorium reactors are feasible is because we only get U-233 instead of the natural clump of mostly U-238 and far fewer U-235 (U-235 is what provides the energy in the reactor). The viability of thorium reactors are that it provides us with a more refined source of uranium to undergo fission, which ultimately results in less nuclear waste. There are thorium reactors that integrate this process of thorium to uranium in quick succession, and that is most likely what people are referring to. Thorium reactors are breeders, some specifically only to send uranium which makes the reactor unnecessarily ship it, but there are many thorium reactors that do create energy because it condenses this process effectively.

  27. Tristan Cole: It’s just a traditional bit of prescriptivist peeving: “less” is for mass nouns, “fewer” for countable ones. “Less death”, but “fewer deaths”.

  28. Why are so many people asking why the audience is laughing so hard at everything?!! Because it’s a comedy show, John Oliver is a comedian, and the show is funny!!

  29. +alexander reusens best comment on the thread!

    +Ken Havens I think most people could use a lesson in nuclear physics. Where do you think the NIMBY complex comes from?

  30. This seems like some weapons-grade conspiracy. Look, I don’t like Trump, sure, but I think his behavior could more easily be associated with growing up rich and not having anyone tell him no, not long term lead poisoning??

  31. I’m not a radiology scientist. never said I was. But try to refute one thing I said. Should be easy if I am a house with no toilet?

  32. +Ben H

    I’m sorry my dear sir but science, here Chernobyl, proves you wrong. You know, that plant that went a-wall in the 80’s.

    Treatment with radiation is being applied using a focused beam of high energy radiation but, while doing so, focusing only on the correct spot (where the MRI showed the tumor, see Cyberknife) but does still irradiate the surrounding tissue, which can lead to complications as well as death. This has been taken from the Cyberknifes homepage (the currently state of the art robotic radiosurgery system used by most oncologists):

    “..Side effects of CyberKnife treatment are usually mild and temporary, and may include nausea and fatigue. As with any radiation treatment, the side effects also can be severe in some patients and lead to permanent injury or even death. Talk to your doctor to determine if treatment with the CyberKnife System is right for you. …” – source:

    And you don’t deposit a radioactive particle into someone, a x-ray beam is an high energy electro magnetic wave, not an (alpha/gamma ray) particle, which shoots right through the body, energizing the tissue and killing cells in the process. Particles wouldn’t even penetrate the skin, depending on the particle and energy we’re talking about. If we’re talking about radioactive particles we’re talking about Alpha and Beta rays, which are Helium atoms respective electrons/protons (depending on Beta- or Beta+ rays). As these particles seem at first to be harmless, they aren’t when ingested. Strontium 90 or Caesium 137 you should be afraid of as they tend to end up somewhere in the body, like for example radioactive Iodine 131, which ends up giving you thyroid cancer if not pretreated with Iodine first so the Isotope has no chance to accumulate in your thyroid. I could go on and on rambling about this topic but I guess you get the point.

    All radiation is bad and not bad at the same time, the dosage makes the toxin, same here. But make no mistake to think one moment that only PU or U are the big baddies. That stuff kills you faster as the amount of gamma radiation is much higher which leaves you with less time till you’ve been exposed a lethal dosage. But the heavy hitters are rather rare compared to all the other decay products that end up somewhere, which are of cause less radiating, often only Beta or only Alpha ray emitter, which are easily shielded, but if this stuff somehow enters your system you’re in a lot of trouble. And there we’re again, if this stuff gets somehow into the soil, groundwater, air, you name it, then it will somehow find its way back to us. And that usually what kills you due to cancer of all sorts.

    But we can debate about this topic if you choose to.

  33. I agree with you, but at the risk of sounding snooty, most people won’t read what you just wrote. Most people will never learn about radioactive materials to that depth, and to be honest, I don’t think episode is meant for people like you who obviously know what’s going on in depth. However, if this show reaches people who learn about the problem and elect representatives who are invested in fixing the problem, then something good has happened.

  34. zachandbro You should be a politician. I mean it’s common knowledge (nothing wrong with saying it again) I just like the way you said it.

  35. Ken Havens Nuclear physics?
    You are a moron, knowledge must be always accepted
    He take his time to explain you how nuclear waste is not so dangerous
    (I dont know how he has the patience to explain things to people)

  36. Your “THERMAL” comment is a little deceptive. Granted, nuclear power is a type of thermal power plant, you still have a nuclear power plant in your country (Angra Nuclear Power Plant)

  37. Scott Ostr its nuclear WASTE… WASTE FROM ENERGY compounds. That’s equivalent to eating food and shitting it out and saving it cause you can just eat it again for more energy

  38. +l555444333222 L5K

    That’s half true, the type of radiation is also important. Alpha rays are shielded by some as thin as paper, so you Kamehameha would not even penetrate the clothing, Beta takes a bit more action to handle and Gamma, well gamma needs the good ol’ lead shielding which needs to be thick enough. An actually its also the amount of energy emitted which kills you. So in your example a Tritium Kamehameha would be one which is focused on a point with the radius being lim (n->inf) 1/n and hitting the spot target would even result in a deflection of said “blast”. The emitted energy per decay process is important, not (only) the amount of atoms decaying. This is why high energy radiation emitters are so much worse compared to Tritium, which only becomes a big baddie if ingested.

    “Strontium-90 is a radioactive by-product of fission reactions within nuclear reactors that generate electricity. About 3% of the mass of spent nuclear fuel consists of fission products including strontium-90.1 Because of its high decay energy and its long half-life of 30 years—it takes hundreds of years to decay naturally to harmless levels—strontium-90 is classified a high-level waste. Strontium-90 deposits in bone and bone marrow, and exposure from contaminated food and water is linked to bone cancer and leukemia.” – source:

    More about this topic:

  39. RealityIsTheNow The threat to their freedom of speech is people PUSHING for it to be taken away from them.

  40. Ethernet “Thank god here in Brazil we only use Hydro”
    *Banqiao dam failure in 1976 which killed about 171,000 people. 11 million people lost their homes.*
    *US Hydro caused mortality per PWh 5*
    *US Nuclear caused mortality per per PWh 0.1*
    *Thank god you choose a source of energy with 500 times higher mortality of nuclear?*

  41. J.J. Shank “Thorium reactors don’t solve everything.”
    *True, a down side of Gen IV reactors is they aren’t production factories for nuclear bombs. Most governments won’t allow this nuclear power plants that don’t make bombs materials. The US government rejected the idea of non-bomb making factories back in the 1960’s cold war with USSR.*

  42. Poultrygeist was my first taste of Troma (hangs head in shame). But it was effing hilarious! It’s the only ultra gory film I’ve ever laughed at.

  43. iwishiweregay How deluded can you be? National Socialism is literally all about the *german* people being the superior race. That’s the point I’m trying to make, fascism can be applied anywhere but true National Socialism can only be applied to Germans. And I’m sorry, but Mein Mampf does matter because it is National Socialism itself. National Socialism is something almost entirely orchestrated and made up by Hitler and that was later influenced the likes of Göring and Himmler. Sure, Hitler took inspiration from Nietzsche and wide-spread anti-Semitism but he invented National Socialism, only its name was not influenced by him but by the political party. And I’m sorry, but there is never a good reason to insult one unless maybe they insulted you first. That’s just having manners

  44. Why not start with fossil fuels so they don’t keep polluting our planet. Nuclear produces nearly zero CO2 and less radioactive waste than coal power.

  45. UltraMato Again boasting with intellectual superiority and not making any actual argument, except for this “hot air by arguing semantics” nonsense, which is only really going on in your head. My main point is that the misrepresentation of history *even if only to make a joke* is, in my opinion, dangerous and unacceptable. But you just stay in your little fantasy world where you are the smartest and everyone who says something that you don’t like is just ignorant and has subpar IQ. Wonder what it’s like there. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be there because I want to listen to what people have to say and to understand their way of thinking.


    *I don’t care enough about this conversation to even make an attempt to discredit you at any serious level.*

    You left not one but two replies, and you definitely did make an attempt at discrediting what I said, honestly misrepresenting what you, yourself said and changing it around so that you are in the right again is truly pathetic.

  46. Steve I thought I was going to just drop a comment. Oh well ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    Thank you for numbering your points, I’ll appropriately respond to them using the given numbers.
    1. I never said you just “hammer it out”, or “shake it through a filter”.
    2. I understand U-233 is different from U-235. I don’t recall using “refined” in a way to make it seem unique.
    3. “Less nuclear waste” as in, since U-233 is not brought in with U-238, it would produce the byproducts of U-233 only, and would create less nuclear waste because there would be no U-238 to be the waste. So, more energy for less waste. Also, I never said “because of refinement”.
    4. Thorium is not fissile, never said it was. That is what I meant with my first sentence.
    5. I like the term “Thorium based reactor” or as you said it, “Th based”. Seems we should use this instead of “Thorium reactor” to avoid confusing people. Thorium based reactors have not made just as much waste.
    6. What a misunderstanding for you to be able to make that sentence.
    What is it that you think is wrong with my original statement?

  47. Your lucky…well at least where I live i wouldnt get hit with radiation but it is close to the ocran and what is the stupid is that there is a earth quake scheduled someday and people refuse to reinforce the radioactive material along the coast

  48. They burned the containers in jet fuel? Why would they even bother? Jet fuel can’t even melt steel beams.

  49. Fandom “well at least where I live i wouldnt get hit with radiation”
    *What’s the mortality rate per PWh for your cities source of energy? If it’s higher than nuclear, why aren’t you mentioning the higher danger of the energy you use?*

  50. @GodSlayer With that logic, giant ships that sink would still be fully intact, many years later. But they don’t. They start to corrode and leave huge holes that sea life starts to grow in and around. Salt water is highly corrosive. Those barrels have long since rusted and parts of the concrete have started to chip away.

    Dumping radioactive waste into the ocean is no more a long-term solution than dumping it in a lake.

  51. Jusbert Meza That’s not the equivalent at all. It’s more like worms and maggots and bacteria using OUR waste as THEIR food. There is more to use there. The reactors that can use current nuclear waste as their fuel are in the works. I don’t know if any have been built, but I am pretty sure that (at least) a few lab versions have been.

  52. awe1507 Well, it is a comedy show first, not a news program. You could always go watch CNN or something.

  53. And I’m sure we will have viable molten salt reactors, and it will solve a lot of our energy problems, but the timetables for building them in the U.S. are on the order of decades. Hey, maybe some sites are secure enough and far enough from population centers that we can wait 20-30 more years, but obviously some of these sites are huge risks right now.

  54. One of the best things I read on nuclear waste was this paper:

    There are safer ways to deal with nuclear waste but they are super expensive and I don’t think the public cares about it yet. The storage pools and water is the bigger issue though. Molten salt, Ducrete, Transmutation and glass seems to be where funding is going for right now for waste. We do need a longer term solution especially as nuclear energy seems to be emerging as a popular form of energy in some parts of the world.

  55. Nuclear waste is not safe to ship across the nation. Build repositories where they manufacture it.

  56. Spent nuclear waste IS something to fear. Pay attention to the times of Half-Life it will be around for thousands of years. A serious concern for all nations,especially America.

  57. Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. There’s a reason why leaded gas was banned. There was plenty of research done on it. Scifinder is your friend.

  58. Bonnie Robinson seeing as I sell nuclear waste dry storage systems for a living, I think it’s definitely possible to keep nuclear waste safe and secure through transport, it’s just super expensive to build a consolidated waste site. Yucca mountain is so many billions of dollars, and it was halted by Jimmy Carter and never restarted. There are two giant barriers at the moment: funding a giant storage site and getting the public to understand that it is incredibly smart to recycle fuel like the UK and France does

  59. + No Dogma Mama The problem with what you just said is that the country that I presume you are living in, the United States, was built from, and still works off of, freedom of speech. I understand that you and many others do not agree with the message they either tried to or tried not to spread. However, they did ask for permission to use the area for the protest and were granted rights to. Disagreeing and dismissing is different from disagreeing and influencing riots. Freedom of speech is something that should be held sacred for everyone and anyone in this world.

  60. Carl, look up the effects of Lead poisoning, and just compare for yourself. Paranoid delusions, vulnerable narcissism, cognitive impairment, lack of impulse control… I could go on. But you should check it out yourself. He is Lead poisoned, or pretending to be lead poisoned very convincingly. We all know someone like him.

  61. As far as alarmists go, pay careful attention and you’ll notice John Oliver didn’t go into Any detail about the current storage systems in place at all of those nuclear plants he showed on the map. I suspect it’s because it doesn’t feed into the “nuclear is scary” narrative

  62. Most of you here will probably forget about this by next week, and you’ll go on to live your lives normally without ever being affected by nuclear waste. So yes, +Kelan Barr is right, this is fear-mongering. I appreciate when people use some critical thinking every now and then, especially when those people don’t just jump on the fucking bandwagon like most liberals.

  63. +RealityIsTheNow You’re correct, freedom of speech does not prevent you from speaking your mind about opposing thoughts or opinions on certain subjects. However, you need to understand that speaking your mind and finishing the thought is different than attempting to do so and be rudely interrupted. You can disagree all you want but infringing upon allowing others to speak should not be tolerated in a country that was a firm foundation in such a concept.

  64. He will. Infrastructure projects will create more jobs than any other industry in U.S. history.

  65. You do realize the infrastructure of the united states is literally falling apart right? You anti-trumpers aren’t very smart sometimes.

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