# Would this be a viable waste storage method?

1. Jan 29, 2006

### Azael

Would this be a viable waste "storage" method?

It sounds to good to be true so I guess it is just that.

2. Jan 29, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

Dropping encapsulated nuclear waste into a trench/subduction zone has been one of the options. One problem is the predictability and control of a natural process, i.e. being sure the waste goes where one wants it to go.

The DOE program for the disposition of spent nuclear fuel is a spectacular disaster. :grumpy:

3. Jan 30, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

Could you elaborate...?

4. Jan 30, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

I am thinking in terms of the $billions spent and very little to show for it. At the moment the future use of Yucca mountain is questionable. It is a political/policy matter. Utilities are using their limited wet storage and having to buy additional dry storage capacity, which was not in the original plan (and capital outlay) of the plants. Reprocessing is back on the table, again, but the cost has not been determined, and we have to relearn the technology, and redevelop the infrastructure if we are to do it 'safely' - and 'safely' is the key. Technically, we have solutions. It's just that we have a huge bureaucracy wasting$billions. :grumpy:

My company is involved in various aspects of nuclear fuel, it's performance and final disposition, as well as the infrastructure (systems and structures) involved in the use of nuclear energy.

5. Feb 1, 2006

### Azael

Is any research on this going on or is it a pretty much dead topic? I have never heard it mentioned before I saw that webpage

btw does anyone know a good book that covers most aspects of storing nuclear waste. I wouldnt mind at all if its very technical.

6. Feb 1, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

At the moment, no country is seriously considering dropping encapsulated nuclear waste or spent nuclear fuel into an ocean trench (or subduction zone). Waste and spent nuclear fuel is buried on land or retained in storage (dry and wet) at the moment. In France and UK, there are reprocessing programs in which Pu and unused U are recovered and recycled. That is an option now being reconsidered in the US.

I'll see if any of my texts cover waste and spent fuel. I believe I have one text on the 'Evironmental Aspects of Nuclear Energy'.

7. Feb 1, 2006

### Morbius

Azael,

Under numerous laws passed by Congress, including the Nuclear Waste Policy Acts of 1982 and 1987,
the nuclear industry is taxed a fee per reactor to go into paying for a waste disposal site.

9. Feb 1, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

The \$17 billion is about what's left. They've spend probably 2 or 3 times that amount.

If reprocessing becomes part of the fuel cycle, the by-products, e.g. Cs, Sr, and all the other other fission products will still need to be stored somewhere. But recycling the U and Pu will significantly reduce the waste volume. On the other hand, the cost of manufacturing fuel using recycled U and Pu is higher because all the manufacturing and inspection is done remotely because of the radiation.

Also, remember, the pressure vessels are being irradiated by neutrons, and ultimately, the PV will need to be buried somewhere.

10. Feb 2, 2006

### WarrenPlatts

Well, Astronuc, you're the expert, so we have to take your word for it. So what disposal method do you endorse? If not the subductive waste disposal method, then what else? Yucca mountain doesn't seem a promising long term solution.

11. Feb 2, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

I am an expert in my area, primarily nuclear fuel and materials, and a few others.

I'd have to do more homework to make a definitive statement. I have studied nuclear waste, and I would probably go with reprocessing and vitrification (Synroc process), with final disposition in a geologically stable formation - basalt or granite.

However, that's what I would do. Being one person, I can't control the process. For the system to work, as it should, it requires the dedication and integrity of a lot of people. There can be no short cuts. The safe and long-term disposition of radioactive material is very serious business! I can't overstate that. That's one of the reasons I tend to be very serious in my nature - I take my work very seriously!

12. Feb 2, 2006

### WarrenPlatts

So you're leaning away from subductive disposal since subduction zones are geologically active. But it seems to me that digging into hard rock formations (granite or basalt) would be expensive and impermanent if Yucca Mountain is to be the model--even if Yucca Mountain itself is not chosen. Stuff buried at the bottom of a 7-mile deep trench would be a lot harder to recover than stuff inside of a granite tunnel.

13. Feb 2, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

Not necessarily. I'd have to do the research (homework). On the other hand, I wouldn't particularly like to dump containers in some open trench, even if it is 7 miles deep.

I suppose one could bore into a subduction zone, insert container of vitrified waste material, and let the geophysical processes entomb it. On the other hand, do we know with certainty to where the waste will eventually travel?

14. Feb 3, 2006

### Azael

Thanks for the links Morbius and astro if you find that text I would love to read it :)

15. Feb 3, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

I went looking for my text, but didn't find it (but IIRC, it's G. G. Eichholz, Environmental Aspects of Nuclear Power, Ann Arbor Sci. Publ., 1976. ).

Meanwhile, here are some interesting sites:

Nuclear Waste Management Organization (Canada) - http://www.nwmo.ca/default.aspx?DN=283,282,199,20,1,Documents

Course outline - http://www.engr.wisc.edu/ep/neep/courses/neep571.html

Environmental aspects based on operational performance of nuclear fuel fabrication facilities - http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/te_1306_web.pdf

http://www.iaea.org/Publications/index.html

16. Feb 3, 2006

### WarrenPlatts

The Current Science paper I cited argued that even if a container were breached, the stuff would be subducted faster than it could diffuse upwards. Also, since the radioactive elements in nuclear waste tend to be relatively heavy elements, they will tend to sink anyway. As for drilling through a water column 7 miles deep, it's doable, but expensive. Just dumping the stuff in the mud would be a lot easier and cheaper. We have got to find a permanent solution--but this solution has to be cost-effective. Otherwise, what is the point of nuclear power?

In any case, the Japanese deep-sea drilling project should shed some light on the feasability of the subductive waste disposal method.

Speaking of subductive waste disposal, I once attended a lecture by an ecologist who proposed that we could cure the greenhouse effect by dumping massive amounts of biomass into subduction zone trenches. So, instead of dumping nuclear waste down there, we could eliminate nuclear, and just dump organic biomass instead, and still not increase atmospheric CO2.

Last edited: Feb 3, 2006