NUCLEAR FUEL WASTE SOLUTION 6
TheNuclear Fuel Waste Solution
Thefirst solution is to properly store the used fuel waste to reduce itsintensity of polluting the environment. Since the nuclear fuel wasteproduces a lot of heat measure should be placed to have the wastecooled and to store it in a container that can accommodate the heat.Therefore, to save the fuel waste the nuclear fuel plant uses aventilated storage module that is made up of concrete and the steel(Klinkenberg et al, 2013). The material helps in resisting the heatof the nuclear waste material. The ventilation facilitates thecooling of the material as lack of ventilation may lead to pressurethat can destroy the container leading to the unwanted spillage ofthe waste materials.
Thepeople living near the storage places are primarily affected as thenuclear waste produces alpha, beta and gamma radiations. Theseemissions lead to cancer and genetic damage (Klinkenberg et al,2013). Therefore, the storage plants should be set up in places likethe deserts where there the region is sparsely populated or the ifpossible where the area is demarcated for storage purpose. Reducedpopulation will decrease the effects on the people as there will belesser people living near the radiations. Laws should be stipulatedto ban the setting up of the storage facilities of the nuclear wastein the public places or areas with dense population. However, it isnot the most effective solution as the waste will still remain in thestored region and in case there are some people living around thestorage area they will be affected.
Thesecond solution is proper disposal of the waste material. Thehigh-level waste and the intermediate level waste have a higherradioactivity compared to the low-level waste. Whether processed ornot, the by-product still poses a significant challenge to theenvironment. The waste should be disposed of properly. The wasteshould be immobilized in an insoluble matrix that includes aborosilicate glass or the plastic glass (Ahn & Apted 2010). Thatway, the fuel pellets are found in a stable ceramic compound alsocalled uranium oxide. The steady state of the fuel pellets is lesslikely to react therefore, there is reduced radioactivity.
Inorder for the waste to be disposed it should be carefullytransported. The convenient transportation will counter theprobability of accidents that cause the product to spill and leachhence drains to the nearest water sources(Brunnengräber et al. 2015).The trucks and the trains used for the transportation of the wastefuel should be carefully driven, and mechanical inspection should beimplemented before taking off. The drivers should be accompanied bymechanical engineers to save the situation in case the trucks or thetrains develop a mechanical problem. The containers for thetransportation should be well ventilated for aeration to preventpressure that may cause the containers to burst during thetransportation. However, good transportation will not work alonewithout proper disposal.
Thedisposal containers should be sealed properly to prevent leakage. Thematerial of the container should be preferably made of concrete andsteel that can withstand the heat produced by the radioactivematerial (Klinkenberg et al. 2013). The containers should then beplaced deep underground in a stable rock structure. The rockstructure should be adequately covered so that the ground may not beunearthed by natural climatic changes. Then the containers aresurrounded by the impermeable backfill such as Bentonite clay toprevent water leakage into the polluted water might leach and draininto the rivers. Disposing the waste well guarantees good managementof the waste from the nuclear plants.
Thethird and the best solution is to take the waste from the nuclearplants and recycle it. Processing the used nuclear fuels aims atextracting the fissile materials for recycling and reducing thevolume of the high-level waste. Recycling focuses on the conversionof fertile uranium to fissile plutonium (Ahn & Apted, 2010). Newprocessing technologies also called the electrometallurgicaltechnology are being deployed. Together with the fast neutronreactors, the technology can burn actinides, uranium, and plutoniumfrom the fuel waste. A large amount of the plutonium recovered fromthe waste is recycled into MOX fuel that can be re-used (Devgun,2013).
Recyclingreduces the amount of the toxic material released, hence reduction ofthe effect of the material on the environment. The used fuel stillcontains some elements of uranium and plutonium isotopes. Re-usingthe required isotopes, the waste has to be processed. Mixing thedepleted uranium oxide with the plutonium recovered helps in makingnew fresh fuel. The recycling process takes place in a MOX fuelfabrication plant (Devgun, 2013). The recycled materials can be usedto provide the new fuel for the future as well as other power plants.
Apartfrom recovering the uranium and the plutonium isotopes separately,advance electrometallurgical reprocessing can recover uranium,plutonium and minor actinides all together for re-use (Ahn &Apted 2010). On recycling the used material, the level of theradioactivity of the waste product falls rapidly compared to the fuelwaste that is not recycled. Recycling is also not the very best wayof managing the waste since at the end of processing there will stillbe some nuclear elements in the waste.
Whenthe nuclear waste is recycled there is little wastage. Apart fromrecovering the useful materials and preventing the pollution to theenvironment, the power plants require lesser raw materials comparedto when there is no recycling (Devgun, 2013). When there is less rawmaterials required to produce nuclear power, the effect to theenvironment is reduced. The reason being, few nuclear materials willproduce very little heat and nuclear effects to the environment (Ahn& Apted, 2010). That way, the people living near the power plantsare less affected. Therefore, the solution is the best to the powerplant and the people living near the nuclear production base.
Ahn,J., & Apted, M.J. (2010). GeologicalRepositories for Safe Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuels and RadioactiveMaterials: Advanced Technologies.New York: CRC Press LLC.
Brunnengräber,A., Nucci, M. R. D., Losada, A. M. I., Mez, L., & Schreurs, M. A.(2015). Nuclearwastegovernance: An international comparison.Berlin: SpringerFachmedien Wiesbaden
Devgun,J. (2013). Managingnuclear projects: A comprehensive management resource.SawstonCambridge: Woodhead Publishing
Klinkenberg,M., Neumeier, S., & Bosbach, D. (2013). Instituteof Energy and Climate Research IEK-6: Nuclear Waste Management Report2011/2012 Material Science for Nuclear Waste Management. Jülich:Forschungszentrum Jülich.