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Nuclear Waste Disposal

Posiva Oy Nuclear Waste Deep Storage
(IEEE Spectrum: Posiva Oy Nuclear Waste Deep Storage, Finland)

- Nuclear Waste Disposal

Nuclear waste is disposed of by isolating it from the environment. The preferred option is geological disposal, which involves placing packaged waste in an underground facility or repository. The rock structure of the repository acts as a barrier to prevent the escape of radioactivity.

Some other approaches to disposing of nuclear waste include: 

  • Incineration: A common treatment technique for solid waste
  • Evaporation: A common treatment technique for liquid waste
  • Conditioning: A step in the process that brings the waste into a safe, stable form so it can be transported, stored, and disposed of
  • Vitrification: A process that immobilizes the waste in glass and requires federal law to dispose of in a deep geologic repository

Short-term approaches to storing radioactive waste include segregation and storage on the surface or near-surface.


- Deep Geological Disposal

The safe disposal of waste is a critical issue for current generation nuclear power plants and will continue to be an issue for future designs.

Deep geological disposal is the most practical and accepted solution, but research and development is needed to increase the certainty of long-term containment and reduce costs.

Experts in engineering, geosciences and materials collaborate in this area. 


- Decommissioning A Nuclear Power Plant

Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is a complex, long-term, and expensive process that can take 15 to 30 years or more. The process involves many activities, including:

  1. Shutting down the plant
  2. Removing nuclear material
  3. Decontaminating equipment and facilities
  4. Disposing of nuclear waste
  5. Restoring the site environmentally


Nuclear waste is highly hazardous and one of the most difficult types of waste to manage. Radioactive elements, or radionuclides, cannot be destroyed by any known chemical or mechanical process. They can only be destroyed through radio-decay or nuclear transmutation.


[More to come ...]

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