Radioactive waste can be solid, liquid, or gaseous waste that contains radionuclides. There are low and high level radioactive wastes. Nuclear waste is a byproduct of nuclear energy. Wherever nuclear power is used, there is nuclear waste. Nuclear power is cleaner than fossil fuels and is used in many places in the world. However, humans have not been disposing of nuclear waste properly and as a result some parts of the earth are highly radioactive, which affects not only the surrounding environment and animals, but also humans. .
Nuclear energy supplies over 16% of the world's electricity, more than the world used from all sources in 1960. There are a total of 440 power reactors throughout the world. Today 31 countries use nuclear energy to generate up to three quarters of their electricity, and a substantial number of these depend on it for one quarter to one half of their supply. France and Lithuania get around three quarters of their power from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Ukraine get one third or more. Nuclear power plants are found mainly on the east coast of the USA, in Europe and the Middle East and Japan. .
The first small steps toward power production were made and on December 20, 1951 an experimental reactor produced enough power to light four 150 watt light bulbs. Several larger experimental reactors were built across the US and the first commercial power plant was built in 1959 in Morris, Illinois. It cost $18 million to build and opened in 1960. Nuclear power increased in popularity during the 1960's and 70's and was at its peak in the 1980's. However, what had started off as a cheap form of electricity turned out to be ever increasing in cost. Today, there are 108 power plants in operation in the US and there are no plans to build more.
Radiation is energy that travels in waves and it can be classified into two forms: non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation.