3 ̶ Bury It

This is a cartoon.  In reality you'll need more than one drill. -Google image

This is a cartoon. In reality you’ll need more than one drill. -Google image

Cart all the stuff to one place and bury it. Deep.

That will fulfill the first two of the aforementioned criteria.

Will the Nuclear Waste Management Organization consider any other alternative? Mike said nope.

NWMO and our federal government have decided that this stuff must be buried deep, deep, deep. So deep that far, far into the future, no one will ever know it is there.

This is what nuclear waste managers and their scientists and engineers call “deep geological disposal”. We folks who will be living next to the deep geological repository, we call it dumping radioactive waste into a mine shaft and sealing it up.

All 96,000,000+ kilograms. 96,000+ tonnes.

That’s about twice the weight of the Titanic. Which is also down deep. Never to be retrieved.

The way NWMO describes the quantity is, imagine 12 hockey rinks, chock-full of used fuel bundles, from ice level to the top of the boards. Try playing hockey then, eh? Impossible. You’d be flailing away in a pool of hot water.

Remember, this stuff gives off heat. For hundreds of thousands of years. So that cavern at the bottom of the mine shaft will have to be ventilated. For hundreds of thousands of years. But. That’s not part of the plan.

The plan calls for locating a geological formation 500 metres beneath the surface. The rock must be solid ̶ no fractures ̶ and it must be dry ̶ no moisture. Then three shafts will be sunk: the service shaft will convey people, equipment, and materials; the main shaft will convey the used fuel containers; the ventilation shaft will, at first, provide fresh air to the miners et al, and later, exhaust the repository’s heat to the atmosphere.

The plan calls for an elaborate network of tunnels and caverns (called “placement rooms”), and the 4+ million bundles, pre-sealed in leak-proof containers, will be squirreled away, and then every cubic centimetre of open space will be packed with custom-mixed clay or concrete. Allow a few years to retrieve those bundles if that should be your desire. But. That’s not part of the plan.

-NWMO image

-NWMO image

Then there are the surface facilities. The bundles will be arriving by truck or train and will be repackaged before they are transferred to the underground repository. The facilities will include such things as an aggregate plant and a concrete batching plant and a sealing materials compaction plant as well as lifestyle elements such as a cafeteria and a first aid station and bus shelters. I guess even buses need shelters.

NWMO estimates that the deep geological repository will be constructed over 10 years by employing from 400 to 1,200 workers per year.

It will take about 40 years to fill the repository. If you include the transport workers, the operation will employ from 700 to 800 persons annually.

For the next 70 years, between 100 and 150 personnel will “monitor” the repository. I say “monitor” because I’m not sure what they will be measuring, and even if they know what they will be measuring and they don’t like it, what are they going to do about it? Retrieve the bundles? But. That’s not part of the plan.

Then the repository will be decommissioned and closed. The process will take 30 years and employ 200 to 300 workers. That means that the shafts will be backfilled and sealed off. The surface facilities will be razed and the area landscaped. And here’s a quote from the literature: “It is anticipated that permanent markers would be installed to inform future generations of the presence of the sealed repository.”

The markers would have to withstand the advance of a continental glacier. But. More on that later.

Now, I ask you  ̶  what could possibly go wrong?

Mining and moisture go together. -Google image

Mining and moisture go together. -Google image


About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website
This entry was posted in BURNING ISSUES, GREENSTONE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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