I believe that over time, through both trial, and unfortunately, error, the issue surrounding the disposal of nuclear waste will be solved. Politicians will only find the will to solve this issue when there is money to be made in this area or if public outcry jeopardizes their positions of being reelected. The scientific aspects regarding the disposal of nuclear waste is still up for debate considering the risks of transportation, the danger of the waste itself, and many other factors including cost and the possibility that terrorists could collect large amounts of this waste for their own agendas.
As of now, scientists believe that nuclear waste should either be sent into space for disposal or the waste should be turned into materials that are harmless to the environment and humans alike.
Reprocessing is the procedure that separates plutonium and uranium out of used nuclear fuel. This process creates nuclear materials that can be reused and small amounts of waste. Reprocessing extends the life of uranium, ultimately making it a more efficient use of the element.
This drastically reduces the amount of waste that needs to be taken care of. Reprocessing also creates plutonium as a byproduct of the process. Plutonium is used in nuclear weapons and increases the possibility of terrorism. Additionally, Uranium can be mined for a cheaper cost than reprocessing in some countries, making reprocessing a poor economic decision. The issues with reprocessing seem to be almost entirely political in reasoning.
Currently, JET in Oxfordshire, England is the most energy-efficient fusion reactor.
In 1997, JET produced 16 megawatts of fusion power from an input of 24 megawatts. This resulted in a fusion energy gain factor of 0.7. It is very difficult for JET to reach the break-even point because in order for fusion to occur, a large amount of plasma heat is required. The problem with this is that the heat escapes through the walls of the reactor and thus creates an inefficient energy source. Waste is not a problem with JET because only small amounts of fuel are used because it is a precursor to a larger fusion reactor.
Low temperature or cold fusion is a type of nuclear reactor that would operate at near room temperature. There are many issues with cold fusion, the first being the temperature itself considering physics states that fusion cannot happen without temperatures exceeding a few million degrees Fahrenheit. The second issue is that the most widely accepted instrument that produces cold fusion today has no shielding around it. Without shielding, if any fusion were happening then radiation sickness would be abundant with anyone who supervised the reactor. As it stands right now, the scientific community is a long ways off from a consensus on how cold fusion could work, if it could work in any form at all.