Australian news, and some related international items

The planned repositary for Lucas Heights returning nuclear waste

text-wise-owlRadioactive waste in Australia, Medical Association Lucas-09for the Prevention of War (MAPW) 18 Jan 16  What will the repository look like? “……The low level waste will be permanently disposed of in a shallow trench covered by 5 metres of soil with plastic and clay lining to prevent water and other materials entering. The nuclear fuel waste, which is intermediate level waste, is too hazardous to be managed in this manner, so will be placed above ground in a temporary purpose-built store3 . Is the repository a permanent management solution? No. This is merely an interim repository for the intermediate level waste. There is no timeline set for a permanent solution. Permanent disposal of intermediate level waste requires deep geological burial. So the Commonwealth repository follows IAEA recommendations only for the low level waste (see below). It does not meet the permanent disposal needs of the intermediate level waste, and defers accountability indefinitely
Does the repository meet world’s best practice? The IAEA stipulates that reprocessed spent fuel comprising long-lived intermediate level waste (e.g. the waste return ing from Scotland and France) “contains long lived radionuclides in quantities that require a high degree of isolation 3 from the biosphere”. This is typically provided by disposal in geologic formations at a depth of several hundred meters4 . Interim storage is permitted above ground until the deep geological repository is prepared. Best practice must dictate a plan and timeline to enable this. Currently we don’t have such a plan. Interim in this case really means indefinite. Australia’s “interim storage” designation is a stealth method of avoiding an appropriate permanent solution.
Will the repository be suitable for storing spent nuclear fuel, say from nuclear power stations? No. It is not even suitable for permanently disposing of the reprocessed nuclear reactor fuel we will be receiving. Just one (average) nuclear power reactor produces 3000 cubic metres of low and intermediate level waste per year plus some 30 tonnes of high level solid packed waste per year.
We are currently struggling to deal with 4000 m3 of low and intermediate level waste accumulated over 50 or 60 years. High level waste requires permanent storage in deep geological formations for several hundred thousand years. Every year around the world 12,000 tonnes of high level waste and 130,000 m3 of low and intermediate level waste are produced from the generation of electricity from nuclear power by 438 nuclear reactors. There is no permanent repository for high level waste anywhere in the world.

January 17, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes

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