Nuclear waste

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Managing nuclear spent fuel: Policy lessons from a 10-country study Harold FeivesonZia MianM. V. RamanaFrank von Hippel; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 27 Jun 2011

The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) is in the process of finalizing an analysis of the policy and technical challenges faced internationally over the past five decades by efforts at long-term storage and disposal of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors. These challenges have so far prevented the licensing of a geological spent fuel repository anywhere in the world.
Here we summarize the findings of this report on the history and current status of radioactive waste management in ten countries. The case studies include four countries that reprocess nuclear spent fuel (France, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom), five countries that are planning on direct disposal of spent fuel (Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United States) and one country (South Korea) whose disposal plans are a subject of discussions with the United States as part of the renewal of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.

Geologic disposal

Deep geological repository wikipedia


Based on the position paper Geoscience Verdict on Waste Disposal, March 29 1999.
it is a widely shared view that the requirements for characterising a suitable repository site, and the engineering techniques for the packaging, storage and containment of intermediate and high level wastes, are well known, well rehearsed, and have been for about 20 years.

How a nuclear dump could save SA's environment (Tom Kenyon; In Daily : Adelaide's Daily News; 25 Feb 2016)

State Labor whip Tom Kenyon continues to advocate for a nuclear storage facility - arguing the billions generated could safeguard the state's national parks and revive its agricultural land.


Cracking the “Americium Problem”—Researchers Find a Way to Safely Store Nuclear Waste Sarah Marquart; Futurism; 17 Mar 2016

claims that "electron stripping" technique to separate Americium from spent fuel (along with U and Pu), scaled up, would solve problem of dangers of storing radioactive waste long-term, and will give "a viable solution to close the nuclear fuel cycle and contribute to solving the world’s energy needs"

Construction begins on nuclear waste storage site in Port Hope, Ont. Canadian Staff; 8 Jul 2016

Designed to house low-level radioactive material from the dawn of the nuclear age, site will encase waste in engineered above ground mound
Construction crews have broken ground on a new storage site for low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope, Ont. Part of the 10-year, $1.28 billion Port Hope Area Initiative, the storage facility will house as much as two million cubic metres of historic waste currently held at various sites in the Lake Ontario city east of Toronto. The construction project includes the building of an aboveground mound where Canadian Nuclear Laboratories—the company leading the project—says the waste will be safely contained and monitored over the long term. The engineered mound is designed to isolate the radioactive material by encasing it entirely in multiple layers of natural and specially-manufactured materials, including geosynthetic clay, sand and ordinary soil. Along with a sister site to be built in Port Granby, Ont., the nuclear waste in Port Hope originates from the dawn of the nuclear age. Now-defunct Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., a mining company turned crown corporation, produced the contaminants while refining radium and uranium during the 1940s and ’50s. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2022.


Finally! We Can Move On The Disposal Of Our Nuclear Waste James Conca; Forbes; 30 Mar 2015

Last week, President Obama authorized the Energy Department to move forward with a plan for a separate repository for high-level radioactive waste that was created from making atomic and nuclear weapons. Immediately, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz announced what we’ve been wanting for decades – a separate deep geologic nuclear waste repository for our defense-generated high-level nuclear waste (HLW), separate from one for our spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from commercial power reactors

Moving Forward to Address Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal John Kotek;; March 24, 2015

Today, President Obama authorized the Energy Department to move forward with planning for a separate repository for high-level radioactive waste resulting from atomic energy defense activities.


WIPP Is Still The Best and Only Choice For Nuclear Waste James Conca; Forbes; 5 May 2014

The only operating underground deep geologic nuclear waste repository had its first minor accident on Valentine’s Day. It was a small release of radiation that will not harm anyone or have any environmental consequence. Maybe it was the Earth’s way of saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you, but take me for granted and I’ll slap you upside the head.”


What the U.S. can learn from Finland on how to bury nuclear waste Henry Fountain, New York Times News Service; Las Vegas Sun; 15 Jun 2017

Beneath a forested patch of land on the Gulf of Bothnia, at the bottom of a steep tunnel that winds for 3 miles through granite bedrock, Finland is getting ready to entomb its nuclear waste.
If all goes well, sometime early in the next decade the first of what will be nearly 3,000 sealed copper canisters, each up to 17 feet long and containing about 2 tons of spent reactor fuel from Finland’s nuclear power industry, will be lowered into a vertical borehole in a side tunnel about 1,400 feet underground. As more canisters are buried, the holes and tunnels — up to 20 miles of them — will be packed with clay and eventually abandoned.
The fuel, which contains plutonium and other products of nuclear fission, will remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years — time enough for a new ice age and other epochal events. But between the 2-inch-thick copper, the clay and the surrounding ancient granite, officials say, there should be no risk of contamination to future generations.
“We are pretty confident we have done our business right,” said Timo Aikas, a former executive with Posiva, the company that runs the project. “It seems the Olkiluoto bedrock is good for safe disposal.”
The repository, called Onkalo and estimated to cost about 3.5 billion euros (currently about $3.9 billion) over the century or so that it will take to fill it, will be the world’s first permanent disposal site for commercial reactor fuel. With the support of the local municipality and the national government, the project has progressed relatively smoothly for years.


How France is disposing of its nuclear waste Rob Broomby; BBC; 4 Mar 2014


Safe repositories for radioactive waste - a study of specifically Swiss conditions The Paul Scherrer Institute; 21 Aug 2009

Swiss repository experiment enters monitoring phase World Nuclear News; 24 Mar 2015

The underground tunnel in which the Full-scale Emplacement Experiment (FE Experiment) will be carried out at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory in Switzerland has been sealed and monitoring has begun. The experiment aims to simulate the conditions within a repository containing high-level radioactive waste.


Law changed so nuclear waste dumps can be forced on local communities Juliette Jowit; The Guardian; 5 Apr 2015

Objectors worry that ministers are desperate to find a solution to the current radioactive waste problem to win public support to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. Nuclear waste dumps can be imposed on local communities without their support under a new law rushed through in the final hours of parliament. Under the latest rules, the long search for a place to store Britain’s stockpile of 50 years’ worth of the most radioactive waste from power stations, weapons and medical use can be ended by bypassing local planning. Since last week, the sites are now officially considered “nationally significant infrastructure projects” and so will be chosen by the secretary of state for energy. He or she would get advice from the planning inspectorate, but would not be bound by the recommendation. Local councils and communities can object to details of the development but cannot stop it altogether.

Deep borehole

Can't We Just Throw Our Nuclear Waste Down A Deep Hole? James Conca; Forbes; 5 Mar 2015

Um…yes, we can. It’s called Deep Borehole Disposal and is pretty easy for some nuclear waste. Especially some highly radioactive materials that have sat in some fairly small capsules for almost 40 years. This was exactly the topic of discussion in Washington this week when Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz answered questions from Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) at a House Science, Space and Technology committee hearing (Tri-City Herald). The answer from Moniz was positive. He discussed a pilot project that would demonstrate the idea of deep borehole disposal using these capsules.


Neutrons for research and nuclear waste disposal The Paul Scherrer Institute; 31 Jan 2007

Megapie is an international pioneering experiment at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, the goal of which is to produce neutrons from a liquid metal target when hit from a proton beam. In a world first, a high power neutron source was produced from about one megawatt of proton input. Neutrons of high initial energy are used in many research fields and could also be used to incinerate nuclear waste.
Neutrons with high energy can also be used for feeding a subcritical reactor system in which highly radioactive substances such as neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium, found in long lived waste from nuclear power plants can, in principle, be transmuted into short lived or even stable elements. Megapie has provided valuable information for developing this technique, even if according to experts, there is still a long way to go on this road.

UK Plutonium stockpile

UK plutonium stockpile is 'energy in the bank' Victoria Gill, Science reporter; BBC News; 4 Nov 2015

The UK is sitting on a plutonium stockpile that represents "thousands of years" of energy in the bank, according to a leading nuclear scientist. Tim Abram, professor of nuclear fuel technology at the University of Manchester, made the comments at a briefing to discuss the fate of the UK's plutonium. The Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria has around 140 tonnes of the material. It is now the largest stockpile of civil plutonium in the world.