The nuclear waste problem elsewhere – Hanford, USA

USA Energy secretary: Some Hanford waste might go down deep boreholes!

Cesium and strontium capsules are stored underwater in central Hanford. US Dept of Energy

Cesium and strontium capsules are stored underwater in central Hanford. US Dept of Energy

The cesium and strontium capsules stored at Hanford might be disposed of sooner if a demonstration project proposed for deep borehole disposal of radioactive waste is successful.

Hanford has 1,936 capsules filled with strontium and cesium removed from the high-level waste tanks at Hanford in 1972 to reduce the temperature of the waste inside those tanks.

The capsules, which contain about a third of the total radioactivity at Hanford, are stored in an underwater pool in central part of the reservation. They had been planned to be sent to a proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., before the Obama administration stopped work on that facility.

Now a permanent federal repository for high-level waste is not expected to be available before 2048, but some DOE officials have proposed options that could dispose of some waste sooner. […]

The report considered a borehole 3.1 miles deep, with the lowest portion in crystalline rock. It would need a diameter of at least 17 inches at the bottom for placing containers with a maximum diameter of 12 inches. The design was chosen because it could be reliably achieved with available commercial drilling technology.

The borehole, lined with steel casing, would hold waste in its lower 1.2 miles, with the crystalline rocks helping isolate it from the environment, according to the report. […]

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