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Radioactive Waste and

Bacteria
Courtney Short
Outline
Radioactive Waste
Define
Types of waste
Storage and disposal methods
Risks
Bacteria
Increase rate of degradation by consuming
waste
Limitations
Future Research
Radioactive Waste
Radioactive waste
contains radioactive
material that is usually a
byproduct of mining,
nuclear power generation,
and other applications of
nuclear fission or nuclear
technology.
Radioactive waste can be
in gas, liquid or solid
phase.
Its level of radioactivity http://world-nuclear.org
can vary.
Types of Radioactive Waste
Very low level waste (VLLW)
Concrete, plaster, bricks, metal, valves, and
piping
Low level waste (LLW)
Paper, rags, filters, industry, and tools
Intermediate level waste (ILW)
Resins, metal fuel cladding, contaminated
materials from reactor decommissioning
High level waste (HLW)
Burning of Uranium fuel in a nuclear reactor
Storage and
Disposal Methods
Spent fuel pool storage
A storage pool provides both
cooling and shielding
Dry cask storage
Casks are typically steel cylinders
that are welded or bolted closed
Deep final repository
Permanently isolate nuclear waste
from the human environment
Ocean floor disposal
Burial in a subduction zone that
would slowly carry the waste
downward into the earths mantle
http://www.epa.gov
Risks of Radioactive Waste
If a person were to be exposed to an acute dose
of high-levels of radiation, the result would be
radiation poisoning. Symptoms may include
skin burns, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair
loss, general weakness and possibly death.
Nuclear power plants use water from local lakes
and rivers for cooling. Local water sources are
used to dissipate this heat, and the excess
water used to cool the reactor is often released
back into the waterway at very hot
temperatures.
Possible Solutions
Reprocessing
Spent fuel can be reprocessed, using a method that
reduces 95% of its volume and radioactivity. The
problem with this approach is that it generates
plutonium, which can be used for nuclear weapons.
Bacteria
If/when groundwater reaches the waste materials
they react with the cement to become highly
alkaline, triggering chemical reactions that result in
the production of isosaccharinic acid (ISA). If it
binds to radionuclides, it becomes soluble.
Possible Solutions
Bacteria
the organisms are
adapted to living in
alkaline waste and can
use ISA as a source of
food under conditions
that would be found in
nuclear disposal sites.
Bacteria can help keep
radioactive materials
fixed underground
through their unusual
dietary habits, and their
ability to naturally
degrade ISA.
Future Research

Study the extremophile bacteria's


unusual diet to better understand how
it could aid in the safe disposal of
radioactive waste.
Bibliography
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Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering, et al.
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