As the U.S. continues to fight over hurdles for its Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository, Finland is on track to become the first country with a permanent storage facility for spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Their Onkalo tunnel, on the western coast of Finland will eventually stretch for 5-km (2-miles) and reach a depth of 500-m (1,600-ft) in solid granite bedrock. Once at depth a grid of horizontal tunnels will be constructed. Vertical storage holes will be excavated in these horizontal shafts, and the spent rods, encased in steel cannisters with copper corrosion protection, will be placed on layers of bentonite clay. The clay will cushion the cannisters and protect them against long term geologic movement. The clay also serves as a barrier to water, swelling in its presence to seal off any cracks or conduits for water that could potentially transport nuclear contamination in the distant future if the primary measures of protection are compromised. The tunnels will eventually be backfilled with bentonite and rock. The facility is projected to open in approximately 15 years at a cost of about 3 billion euros. The projected life of the facility is through 2100. Links after the break. (Illustration by BBC)
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission – No. 08-106 – June 3, 2008
NRC RECEIVES DOEâ€™S LICENSE APPLICATION TO CONSTRUCT HIGH-LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORY AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission received an application today from the U.S. Department of Energy for a license to construct the nationâ€™s first geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
â€œWe are ready to get to work on this challenging review,â€ said NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein. â€œCongress has given the NRC a strict timetable for reviewing this application, and I want to assure the American people that we will perform an independent, rigorous and thorough examination to determine whether the repository can safely house the nationâ€™s high-level waste. The NRCâ€™s licensing decision will be based entirely on the technical merits.â€ [Editor] Read on for the rest of the press release [/Editor]
Since the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository has gotten the axe from President Obama, nuclear power plants around the country are faced with the prospect of virtually indefinite "temporary" storage of their nuclear waste in the form of spent fuel rods. The US Department of Energy has a legal obligation to find a permanent disposal facility for the spent fuel, and the agreements currently in place presumed that Yucca Mountain would be accepting nuclear waste by 2025 which clearly won’t happen. (Photo of dry cask temporary storage method for spent nuclear fuel from Connecticut Yankee). More after the break. […]