Nuclear Waste Blog – Deep geological repository
Today, let’s review how high activity waste are managed. Remember the classification of nuclear waste we discussed earlier? For intermediate-level and high-level waste, we currently lack a definitive recycling solution. These types of waste include nuclear fuel byproducts after recycling (for countries that choose to do so) or directly from the reactor, as well as fuel sheaths. While there are multiple options such as transmutation and temporary storage in case future generations discover better solutions, today we will focus on the most widely explored solution —the geological repository. Different projects have made varying levels of progress, with some advanced ones located in Finland, France and Sweden.
A deep geological repository involves placing the waste in a geological disposal site to prevent the release of radioactive elements. To ensure effectiveness, the repository must be located at a significant depth between 400 and 1000 m deep, providing protection against erosion, earthquakes, and long-term human intervention. This approach requires geologically stable areas that will remain undisturbed for centuries.
When it comes to recommended rock formations, scientists have identified several options. Clay and granite rocks have become favourites within the scientific community due to their impermeability and compatibility with radioactive elements. The chemical interactions involved in this process are fascinating, and we can explore them in more detail another time.
These projects are extensive and require long-term planning. For instance, the Onkalo site in Finland, which uses granite rock, began construction in 2004, and the first tests are expected next year. If you are interested, I would be delighted to provide more information about the history of this project. In our next discussion, we will delve into CIGEO, the French deep geological repository project.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to our next encounter.
See you soon,