"Your fear of "long lived" radioactive waste is overblown. Radioactive decay is like oxidation. Really fast oxidation is called an explosion. Fast oxidation is called fire. Really slow oxidation is called rust. It all has to do with the RATE of oxidation.
Half life defines the RATE of radioactive decay. Really short half lifes (< a month) is akin to an explosion. Really long half lifes (> 1000 years) is akin to rust. Sure, actinides, transuranics, etc. with very long half lives are measurably radioactive for a long time, but the amount of energy emitted by that radiation is neglegible. Their chemical toxcicity is more of a problem than their radiotoxcicity and we have many, many years of experience dealing with chemical toxins with infinite half lives (ie, non-radioactive). "
"Similarly, radioactive decay is like beginning with 100 zillion pennies in a radioactive sample (radioactive isotope atoms) and continuously doing this experiment such that once a half-life, all "pennies" had a chance to flip "
See the link for a comparison of pennies in a cup and decaying atoms.
Slow popping popcorn that is. Popping popcorn that may take thousands of years for all the kernels to transform into popped corn.
"In essence, the process of radioactive decay is like the ticking of a clock. The greater the age of a substance containing radioactive isotopes, the greater the number of ticks that have occurred."
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