A feasible proposal to store all of UK’s nuclear waste safely

By: | January 20th, 2022

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The University of Sheffield in the UK has published a study where they present a new proposal on nuclear waste storage. The UK has gradually accumulated over 248,000 m3 of radioactive waste from its 25 nuclear power stations, six of which remain operational.

At least two will continue to operate until 2024, another couple will not close until 2028, and one is set to close in 2035. However, there are already plans for commissioning another seven nuclear power stations apart from the modular reactors proposed by Rolls-Royce. As such, the country will continue to produce nuclear waste, which will be added to the already existing amounts.

The current government plan is to bury that waste at a depth of a few hundred meters in a special disposal facility, but the site for something like that hasn’t been found yet. Also, that proposal would cost roughly $18 billion USD to realize and wouldn’t be able to accept high-level waste for 40 years after its completion.

Sheffield University proposes a different approach: to drill seven boreholes of an average depth of 4.85 km (3 miles) and then use blind shaft and oilfield tech to increase their diameters as required to drop the waste in the holes.

The waste will be lowered carefully in containers where it’s currently packaged and which will be stacked one by one. Each container may be sealed individually or with a single securing element at the top of the borehole. The sealing zone will be at least two kilometers (1.25 miles), which should contain any potential leakages inside the hole.

This proposal takes the cost down from the government’s plan by up to $11 billion USD, and the number of potential candidate sites suitable for this project would be far greater, so realizing it would be met with fewer obstacles.

Bill Toulas

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