Back Then And In To The Future.
Some problems take a long time to solve,
while others get worse over the years.
This is certainly the case when it comes to just how we will have to deal with the long term problem of nukiller waste.
Back In The 1970s
Here is what the UK nukiller authorities had to say about this problem way back in the late 1970s:-
– – –
If nuclear power is to go ahead to its full potential acceptable ways must be found of dealing with radioactive wastes, especially the long-lived fission products. At present high level radioactive wastes are stored in liquid form mainly at Windscale in Cumbria; but to reduce the need for surveillance it is planned to convert them to glass blocks. After a period of supervised storage these will be disposed of either deep underground or on or under the ocean bed. Britain is working in association with other countries to assess the suitability of a number of geological formations for the disposal of radioactive waste. Granite and other hard rocks, clays, shales and salt are being looked at to study porosity, heat resistance and other relevant properties, both in the laboratory and in the ground at the proposed burial depth of about 300 metres. The rocks that are of interest are widely distributed: much of Britain’s granite is found in Scotland, while other rock types are found predominantly in England and Wales. Research and testing will need to go on for several years before a demonstration disposal site for high level radioactive waste can be identified.
Scotland and Nuclear Power.
UK Atomic Energy Authority.
– – –
All handling processes involving radioactive materials are carried out remotely until the fission products are removed. The concentrated fission product waste extracted during reprocessing is at present stored in stainless steel tanks. The tanks are double-walled and are located in concrete vaults which are themselves lined with stainless steel. The fission product waste that has accumulated in this country over the last 25 years is stored in some 14 stainless steel tanks at Windscale. The total volume is about 750 cubic metres, the size of a four-bedroom, family, detached house. The storage of liquid fission product waste is well established and safe, but there are advantages in making it solid for more effective disposal. A process to convert this waste to a solid, glass-like form for long term storage is being developed and will be installed at Windscale in due course. The process comprises mixing the liquid waste with silica and borax and heating the slurry in a furnace to form glass. The glass is cast into cylindrical, stainless-steel sealed containers which can be stored under water in ponds. The glass is chemically inert and practically insoluble and thus the radioactive waste is permanently “locked-in”.
Energy from the atom.
2 – nuclear fuel.
British Nuclear Fuels Limited.
– – –
Right Now and In to the Future.
The amount of this radioactive waste has really grown since these words were published.
There is a lot more such waste which is currently being produced,
and a lot more will be produced in the decades to come. *
While we have learnt just how silly it is to ever contemplate the storage of this waste in shale or salt.
– There is still the question of just how you might make such places safe by keeping out ground water ?
– Just how to prevent any major earthquake damage to these depositaries?
I was not reassured about the long term safety of these nukiller waste dumps when I read these pamphlets some 35 years ago, and I still believe that this is a problem which can never be solved by those who run the nukiller power industry.
* Unless we manage to close down all of the nukiller power stations.