Page: 2/4146037005.doc11 August 2006
QUARANTIN ING NUCLEAR WASTE:
It is frequently asserted, in some circles, that: “…
there are no adequate technologies in place to safely quarantineradioactive waste
...” This claim is provably uninformed, and inaccurate. Safe quarantine technology IS well known andavailable to us. Alas, this erroneous assertion is even published, unquestioned, in a draft paper by Engineers Australia (akaThe Institution of Engineers Australia).
One should consult better information at:
These above links report on Australian SYNROC technology, invented 25 years ago by
Prof. Ted RINGWOOD
, atANU. This process can store nuclear waste in a relatively small mass, buried deep in geologically stable rocks, for eons.This technology has already been used by the US & Russia in de-weaponising Plutonium warheads, and recently a largecontract has been sold for binding nuclear waste at Sellafield (UK).The best implementation of this idea would be to locate a small SYNROC plant set beside every reactor, which wouldstabilise waste into a solid & unleachable
chemically bound ceramic matrix
(not a mixture), whose
lifetime is longerthan any known radionuclide
.A naïve objection to SYNROC has been: “
How could anyone be sure of this estimated lifetime?
” Answer: Engineersregularly test laboratory samples for a statistically short duration, and then extrapolate to longer durations. That’s why bridges rarely fall down.Another objection is: “
But SYNROC still emits radiation – therefore it’s still dangerous
”. Answer: The ‘half-thickness’shielding for
rays (the most penetrating) is 50mm for concrete, and 83mm for earth, a very easy construction goal. See:
So, a 10metre thick earth shield will reduce
rays by afactor of
, but if buried under a desert cap of 100metres, any radiation from these buried blocks is reduced to a levelalmost infinitely below background cosmic radiation. Australia’s deserts fortunately offer geological structures that aresuperbly stable for this purpose. To aim for a zero radiation target (as touted by Friends of the Earth) is impossible, givenexisting background cosmic radiation. Even sawn & milled wood has a measurable radiation rate – yet no one demands thatall wood products be banned.Yet another concern is: “
How can one safely transport
from a reactor over roads/sea to a SYNROC plant?
” Answer: Don’t. Maintain an adequately sized SYNROC plant intimately proximate to every reactor, andthen nuclear waste will never have to be transported anywhere through an open environment.Another question met is: “
How can one safely transport refined
to a reactor?
” Answer: Don’t. Placethe reactor(s) close to Uranium mine(s) to minimise transport of Uranium. Reactor(s) established near to Uraniumdeposits, and far from urban centres, will also lower NIMBY fears in the populace. Reticulation of reactor energy toregional steaming electricity generators would use the below discussed mechanism of “Aluminium as energy.” Inaddition, there already exists a fairly substantial High Voltage electricity power network around Australia.Underground tunnels through stable geological strata would also minimize risk of Uranium contamination in theopen environment. Though most Australian Uranium Mines are open-cut, it would require little cost to convert themto fully sealed mines, which could perhaps use automatic, robotic, or telematic mining machinery.
ALUMINIUM AS ENERGY:
There is proper concern about exported Uranium ‘proliferating’ into a weapons program. Solution? Don’t ship anyUranium at all, instead ship the energy it represents.The idea is to use reactor generated electricity to smelt Aluminium ingots as floating barges, then one tugboat cantow vast amounts of Aluminium fuel to anywhere in the world. Aluminium is then burnt as Thermite
which createsheat for steaming electricity generators, with no CO
generation whatsoever.Australia then keeps the used Uranium fuel, and safely processes this via the excellent SYNROC process. Instead of exporting Uranium metal, one now exports Aluminium metal. Australia has a substantial world percentage of both ores.