Everyone more or less agrees that toxic wastes have to be handled responsibly. The generations producing the waste have to take responsibility for its safe management. The concerns of present and future generations have to be taken into consideration. The waste management strategy should not be based on the assumption that social structures will remain stable into the distant future, nor should it assume further technological advances in the field.
In 1995, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued nine safety principles for handling radioactive waste; these are all based on fundamental ethical considerations. The following two principles in particular are linked directly with the ethical problem.
Protection of future generations Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that predicted impacts on the health of future generations will not be greater than relevant levels of impact that are acceptable today.
Burdens on future generations Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that will not impose undue burdens on future generations.
Safety Principles (original English text) (1,2 MB)