How long is nuclear waste still radioactive? Is it still harmful afterward?



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    Uranium-235 is the isotope of uranium that is used for fuel in nuclear power plants. A specimen of U-235 will remain radioactive until it has decayed into a stable nuclear form. The half-life of U-235 is 700 million years, which means that in any given mass of U-235, it will take 700 million years for half of the sample to become stable.

    Nuclear fuel will still be radioactive for millions of years after it has been spent, which is why it must be stored safely. The mass of fuel that a reactor uses is high enough that the waste is dangerous if not handled properly.

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