Acton Institute Powerblog

Why Not Just Dispose of Nuclear Waste in the Sun?

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

PopSci follows up with the question I asked awhile back, “Why Not Just Dispose of Nuclear Waste in the Sun?”

The piece raises doubts about launch reliability: “It’s a bummer when a satellite ends up underwater, but it’s an entirely different story if that rocket is packing a few hundred pounds of uranium. And if the uranium caught fire, it could stay airborne and circulate for months, dusting the globe with radioactive ash. Still seem like a good idea?”

This is precisely why I raise the possibility of a modified space cannon to shoot the material that cannot be recycled into the sun.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Bill Dillon, Shalimar, FL

    Why not do as the late Dr. Dixie Lee Ray proposed? Inject the nuclear waste in the subduction zone of the earth ever-regenerating crust?

  • Better to have a rocket manned by socialists who will ensure it gets to its destination.

  • John Zink, Ph.D.

    The first need is to recycle what can be recycled. That will reduce the volume of the waste by 90%. The rest is actual waste, and its radioactivity will die out more quickly than people usually realize because the really long-lasting elements are those that would be recycled: U and Pu. At that point the waste problem becomes quite manageable, both in terms of volume and longevity. We have been unable to yet overcome one of the bigger blunders of the Carter Administration, which thought we could set an example for the world by not reprocessing. Sound familiar? (By the way, I am a retired nuclear engineer.)

  • Randy L Benson

    I have problems with merely shooting the material into the sun.

    We might need it later. What for, God only knows. I do know that, in the past, uses were eventually found for so-called ‘useless’ things.

    I agree with Dr Zink in that anything that can be recycled should be recycled, at our present state of technology.

    Even at that, there is a probability (albeit small at this point) that some use may be found in the future for what we cannot recycle or use at this time.

    If present launch vehicles are considered unreliable, then a ‘space cannon’ may be aa worthy alternnative.

    However, I’d support shooting the matter into a LaGrange point near the moon, via a consortium of the nuclear and spacegoing powers.

    In that way, the material would be accessible to possible future moon colonies.

    It’d surely be rather difficult to bring it back immediately, which would lessen the likelihood of iillegal acquisition.

    Guardian satellites could accompany the material to watch over it and prevvent its theft by manned or unmanned craft.

  • Patrick Powers

    Does the US government see this as problem? No. The White House wants to land a man on an asteroid.

  • Or we could simply replace nuclear energy with solar, wind, hydro and other renewable energy sources – and use less energy.