Vitrified nuclear waste: glass corrodes and melts long before the radioactive trash is inert

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What causes nuclear waste glass to dissolve? Phys Org. University of Houston, October 10, 2018

Immobilizing nuclear waste in glass logs—a process known as vitrification—is currently used in the United States to safeguard waste from sites associated with defense activities. Some other countries also use the process to capture waste from nuclear power plants.

Researchers know, however, that the glass can begin to dissolve after a long period of time, and the durability of these glass logs remains an active area of research.

Researchers from the University of Houston, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh are working on one of the most pressing issues—what causes the glass to begin to deteriorate relatively quickly at some point, potentially releasing radioactive waste at levels exceeding regulatory thresholds?

Over time, zeolite crystals start to form in the glass, facilitating faster dissolution, said Jeffrey Rimer, Abraham E. Dukler Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and principal investigator on an $800,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study the problem.

“We are looking more closely at the early stage of zeolite formation and thinking about ways to slow or completely impede the process,” Rimer said. That should lead to new ways of designing the glass materials to improve safety. Rimer’s collaborators include James Neeway, Jarrod Crum and Radha Motkuri of PNNL and Giannis Mpourmpakis of the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers know the type of zeolite involved—one of two polymorphs of the small-pore zeolite P. Several years ago Rimer and Motkuri collaborated on a zeolite synthesis project involving these crystals, reporting their discoveries about the polymorphs, named P1 and P2. The more thermally-stable polymorph P2 is the crystal involved in the dissolution of nuclear waste glass.

Rimer has worked with zeolites throughout his career, with applications ranging from ion exchange to petrochemical manufacturing. This DOE project involves a new twist, investigating how to prevent zeolites from forming rather than developing new ways to produce them.

The project has both experimental and computational aspects; Rimer’s lab will handle the experimental tasks involving zeolite formation, while researchers at PNNL will work on the experimental aspect of glass dissolution.

“We have long observed from laboratory studies that zeolite formation in glass corrosion tests resulted in an increase in the glass corrosion rate,” said Neeway, a researcher at PNNL. “With the expertise of Dr. Rimer, we hope to understand why zeolites lead to an increase in glass alteration rates and why only certain zeolites cause changes, with the long-term goal of preventing their formation.”

Mpourmpakis, an expert on simulations of materials growth and catalytic reactions, will conduct computational studies of zeolite nucleation at the Center for Research Computing at the University of Pittsburgh. “We are very excited to be part of this excellent team of researchers and try to find ways for safer storage of nuclear waste,” said Mpourmpakis, the Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

Zeolite P, the zeolite that forms from the glass, is affected by temperature—Rimer said researchers synthesize it in the lab at 100 °C—but they don’t yet know how crystallization proceeds at lower temperatures and they don’t have methods to deter its formation. But controlling temperatures in the geologic formations designated as nuclear waste repositories is not necessarily practical, thus researchers are looking for other factors that might affect crystal growth, including components of the glass.

https://phys.org/wire-news/300629772/what-causes-nuclear-waste-glass-to-dissolve.html

Nuclear waste briefings in coastal areas

 
In this video clip from NHK News, check out the *many* proposed permanent nuclear waste dump sites in Japan that have just been announced.
 
Looks like Kyoto and Osaka are impacted. And what is the sea level rise effect on these proposed coastal nuclear waste dumps?
August 27, 2018
Japanese energy agency officials say they will continue to hold public briefing sessions on the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.
The government last year released a map showing which parts of the country may be scientifically suited to hosting an underground disposal site.
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has so far invited residents to 55 briefing sessions. Most have taken place in prefectural capitals.
On Monday, the agency held a meeting in Tokyo to explain the sessions to regional officials.
Agency officials said participants tend to question whether highly contaminated nuclear waste can safely be stored in earthquake-prone Japan. They also express concerns over how local people’s opinions may be reflected.
The agency plans to hold further briefings, mainly in coastal areas that are considered to be relatively suitable for underground waste storage.
The districts cover about 900 municipalities.
The officials say they will decide on where to hold the briefing sessions after discussions with the municipalities.
The officials indicate they will continue approaching municipalities to investigate potential waste disposal sites. So far none have agreed to such studies.

 

Making nuclear waste has to be stopped

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Special credits to Roger Bristol, Marius Paul and Leonard J. Siebert
August 22, 2018
Roger Bristol —  “Structural materials become neutron activated resulting in radioactive iron, cobalt, and nickel. I am not sure where the chlorine comes from. Carbon is from neutron activation of air and in the stainless steel reactor vessel. Tritium is a fission product and comes from neutron activation of deuterium naturally occurring in cooling water. Thorium and protactinium are decay products of fuel. Uranium-232 comes from neutron activation of a decay product of uranium. Neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium come from successive neutron absorption of fuel. When uranium is struck with a neutron sometimes it fission and sometimes becomes a new nuclide.
The Ci is a unit of radioactivity. 1 Ci = 37,000,000,000 decays per second. Radium has a half-life of 1,602 years. The unit is based on the radioactivity of one gram of radium. To get the number of grams you would take the half-life and divide by 1,602 times the number of Ci and then multiply by the atomic weight divided by the atomic weight of radium (226).
l Graphite is used as a moderator in some reactors. To purify to graphite of neutron absorbing impurities chlorine is used leaving a residue of chlorine-35. Neutron activation creates the radioactive chlorine-36. Probably the weapons grade plutonium breeder reactors used graphite I suspect.”
 
Marius Paul — “Two other important topics about radioactivity:
(1) Half-lives can be deceptive, as some radioactive materials become more radioactive as time goes on, not less. Examples include radon gas and depleted #uranium. Even irradiated nuclear fuel, which decreases in radioactivity for the first 50,000 years, eventually increases in radiotoxicity after that period of time. Plutonium has a 24,000 year half-life, but when it disintegrates it is transformed into another radioactive element with a 700 million years half life. So half-lives can be deceptive.
(2) Some radioactive materials are very difficult to detect, even in a well-equipped nuclear plant, because they give off non-penetrating alpha or beta radiation – yet they can be extraordinarily dangerous. Examples are beta-emitting carbon-14 dust, which workers at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station tracked into their homes in the 1980s, and alpha-emitting #plutonium dust, which over 500 contract workers inhaled on a daily basis for almost three weeks at Bruce in 2009.”
 
Leonard J. Siebert — “One of the delights for me as I continue to attempt to educate people about Fukushima, is the sheer amount of both ignorance and erroneous information on the subject that plagues humanity.
One of the most laughable premises was that Plutonium, a transuranic element, exists in nature and people shouldn’t be alarmed by it.
Seriously, the article was published in a scientific periodical and while it was later retracted; the damage was done and I hear the comment repeated to this day by the Pro-nuke factions.
So in what will another subject for people to attack me about, question my expertise and accuse me of ‘fear mongering’; I will attempt to relate the facts in layman’s terms and even do so entertainingly.
In many of the reports I post about Fukushima and even in the media, the word ‘Transuranic’ or ‘transuranium’ often appears.
Now I get questioned all the time by ‘experts’ that love to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. However they usually take the tact of asking me basic physics or nuclear energy questions. It is not my goal to teach physics to anyone, plus that would take a lifetime to bring everyone up to the same understanding of the science with my statements. For me that is a waste of time and I have spent too many hours explaining processes that should be apparent to even a high school student in General Science, perhaps the ignorance in the science is a result of common core or too much Star Trek techno-babble; I cannot say. So I am only going to focus on terms, used in the media that are important for you to know. I will do my best to define them in a none bias manner but anyone with a REAL understanding of nuclear energy, knows that it is not clean, cheap, efficient, green or safe.
“Nuclear power is one HELL of a way to boil water.”- Albert Einstein. (He meant that with full irony for the fools he was addressing for even suggesting that idea, sadly the fools controlled the purse strings.)
 
So what is Transuranium?
I have to assume that chemistry managed to seep into your education and that you at least have heard of the Periodic Table of elements. (Please tell me you know the difference between an element and a compound, if you don’t; you need to look up element. This is one of the difficult things about writing anything about science, I have no clue how much you grasp.) On the Periodic Table elements are arranged from lightest (Hydrogen {H} atomic number 1) to the ‘current’ heaviest (Ununoctium {Uuo} atomic number 118). It is the ‘atomic number’ that defines what is Transuranium, anything with an atomic number below 93 is a natural element; anything with an atomic number above 92 (Uranium’s atomic number hence ‘Transuranium’) is an ‘artificially’ made element. So even though people love to affix the prefix ‘trans’ to many different aspects such a gender or race; it actually is a concrete term from Latin, meaning: Beyond, across or over.
 
All Transuranium elements are radioactive, unstable and decay into other elements, usually just as unstable and equally radioactive as the decay process can last eons. While I use the term ‘artificially’, I have qualify that with ‘on earth’. All of the elements with higher atomic numbers, however, have been first discovered in the laboratory, with neptunium, plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium and californium later also discovered in nature. They are all radioactive, with a half-life much shorter than the age of the Earth, so any atoms of these elements, if they ever were present at the Earth’s formation, have long since decayed. What the reader should take from this is the plan truth; the earth was becoming less radioactive, before we started splitting atoms.
 
Enrico Fermi discovered that the nucleus of most atoms could absorb a neutron or neutrons thus changing the element into a new atom in 1933. It wasn’t until 1940 that Edwin McMillan successfully produced Neptunium ({Np} atomic number 93) and 1941 that Glen Seaborg produced Plutonium ({Pu} atomic number 94) that things really started to stink. (See what I did there ‘Pu’; come-on this is really dry material, I have to make it fun to read.)
 
Now don’t start thinking that only transuranium elements are the only radioactive ones out there, because that would be dead wrong. Uranium is of course radioactive as is Radium ({Ra} atomic number 88), Polonium ({Po} atomic number 84), and Tritium ({H3} one of the Hydrogen isotopes). There are of course more many being isotopes like Carbon 14, the one we use for ‘carbon dating’ but it needs to be understood that all these elements and isotopes were in a constant state of decay here on earth. While nature does produce some of them in limited or small amounts, it was not until we began monkeying with fission, that they are now being created all too commonly.
 
My thesis here is part of a broader picture that I refer to as ‘Baseline Background’. What it states is that any increase in acceptable ionizing radiation; must be compared to the ‘pre-artificial fission’ of the Chicago Pile because every background measurement after that up until today, is artificially fortified by the folly of nuclear energy in use today.
 
Plain truth be known, the world is becoming increasingly radioactive and its exponential and showing no signs of letting up. You cannot adapt to it, you will not become a mutant nor can or will any other life on this blue marble. On the microbiological scale, you have already passed the point of no return, on the bio-magnification scale you have sealed the fates of yourselves and your children and Fukushima was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
 
For those who laugh and say; ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ and continue on nuclear energy’s present course; dying of cancer is not a condemnation I would wish on my worst enemy. Yet, you are worthy of your reward for you lack of foresight.”

Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste?

march 16 2018
16 Mar 2018
Despite promises of revitalisation from Japan’s government, seven years on from the nuclear disaster the area is still struggling
 
This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.
 
No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.
 
Japanese officialdom relentlessly emphasises positive messages regarding Fukushima’s short- and medium-term future, prioritising economic development and the gradual return of sceptical evacuees to their newly “remediated” communities. Yet the return rate for the least hard-hit communities is only about 15%. Government proclamations regarding revitalisation of the area in and around the exclusion zone intone about jobs but seem geared ominously toward a future with relatively few humans.
 
The Fukushima prefecture government is currently promoting a plan, dubbed The Innovation Coast, that would transform the unwelcoming region into a thriving sweep of high-tech innovation. Much of the development would be directed towards a “robot-related industrial cluster” and experimental zones like a robot test field.
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Aerial view of a nuclear waste storage area in Futaba, with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background.
The test field would develop robots tailored for disaster response and for other purposes on a course simulating a wide range of hurdles and challenges already well represented in Fukushima itself. Large water tanks would contain an array of underwater hazards to navigate, mirroring the wreckage-strewn waters beneath the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where a number of meltdown-remediating underwater robots have met a premature demise in recent years.
 
Elsewhere on the robot test field, dilapidated buildings and other ruins would serve as a proving ground for land-based disaster-response robots, which must navigate twisted steel rods, broken concrete and other rubble. Engineered runways and surrounding radiation-hit areas would serve as prime territory for testing parlous aerial drones for a range of purposes in various weather conditions – which would be difficult or impossible to achieve elsewhere in relatively densely populated Japan.
 
The planned site for the test field would link with a secluded test area about 13km south along the coast to coordinate test flights over the exclusion zone’s more or less posthuman terrain.
 
Naturally, unlike Fukushima’s human residents, robots would be oblivious to the elevated radiation levels found outside the Fukushima Daiichi facility. In addition, prefectural officials have suggested that the exclusion zone environs could play host to a range of other services that don’t require much human intervention, such as long-term archive facilities.
 
Proud long-time residents of Fukushima, for their part, see all this development as a continued “colonisation” of the home prefecture by Tokyo – a well-worn pattern of outsiders using the zone for their own purposes, as were the utility representatives and officials who built the ill-fated plant in the first place.
march 16 2018 check post exit from the exclusion zone of Futaba town
A guard gesturing at a check post exit from the exclusion zone of Futaba town, Fukushima prefecture.
Years of colossal decontamination measures have scraped irradiated material from seemingly every forest, park, farm, roadside, and school ground. This 16 million cubic metres of radioactive soil is now stored in provisional sites in and around the exclusion zone, waiting to be moved to an interim storage facility that has hardly been started and for which nearly half of the land has not yet even been leased.
 
The state has promised to remove all the contaminated soil from Fukushima after 30 years, and government officials have been scrupulous in insisting that this will be the case – for soil. Yet in a nation with about 17,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel rods and no willing candidates for secure repositories, it is only a matter of time before it becomes possible for politicians to publicly back the idea of transforming the area around Fukushima Daiichi into a secure repository.
 
Government officials, including those tasked with nuclear waste storage, describe the quintessentially Japanese strategy of saki-okuri, or calculated postponement, in the context of nuclear waste storage. Such perception management is a subtle business, but by quietly and unrelentingly pushing back the day of reckoning – slowly changing the terms of debate – the broadly distasteful prospect of storing Japan’s most dangerous material in its most tragically maltreated region would become gradually less intolerable to Japanese sensibilities.
 
The expanse of Fukushima in and around the exclusion zone represents an already contaminated area with, since 2011, far fewer residents to protest against such plans. Such a rare opportunity for relatively unopposed intervention in a struggling area will surely prove irresistible to the nuclear lobby.
 
Fukushima has been marginalised, disenfranchised, and outmanoeuvred for decades. After all, the electricity from Fukushima Daiichi went straight to the capital, not to Fukushima itself, which bore the risks. Since 2011, Fukushima has been saddled with the staggering burden of the meltdown’s aftermath that, despite government PR, will encumber and stigmatise its citizens for at least several decades.
 
• Peter Wynn Kirby is a nuclear and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford
 

Nuclear Waste Crisis in Fukushima is a Human Rights Issue

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Nuclear waste storage area in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
Traditional early morning Japanese breakfast, briefing on objectives, equipment check and drive into the beautiful mountainous forests of this region: this is the daily routine that will allow us to complete our latest investigation into the radiological status in some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.
But there is nothing normal about the routine in Fukushima.
Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdown, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway. Of the many complex issues resulting from the disaster, one in particular may have become routine but is anything but normal: the vast amounts of nuclear waste, stored and being transported across Fukushima prefecture.
 
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A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima Prefecture (March 2011).
As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, gases and particulates which vented into the atmosphere, led to radioactive fallout greater than 10,000 becquerels per square meter contaminating an estimated 8 percent, or 24,000 square kilometers, of the landmass of Japan. The highest concentrations (greater than 1 million becquerels per meter square) centered in an area more than than 400 square kilometers within Fukushima prefecture.
In the period 2013-14, the Japanese government set about a decontamination program with the objective of being able to lift evacuation orders in the Special Decontaminated Area (SDA) of Fukushima prefecture. Other areas of Fukushima and other prefectures where contamination was lower but significant were also subject to decontamination efforts in the so called Intensive Contamination Survey Area (ICSA).
Two areas of the SDA in particular were subject to concentrated efforts between 2014-2016, namely Iitate and Namie. A total of 24-28,000 people formally lived in these areas, with all evacuated in the days and months following the March 2011 disaster.
The decontamination program consisted of scraping, reverse tillage and removal of top soil from farmland, stripping and removal of soil from school yards, parks and gardens, trimming and cutting of contaminated trees and plants in a 20 meter area around peoples homes, and the same along a 10-15 meter strip either side of the roads, including into the nearby forests.
 
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Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
This program involved millions of work hours and tens of thousands workers (often Fukushima citizens displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdown), and often homeless and recruited off the streets of cities, and exploited for a wage of 70 dollars a day to work long hours in a radioactive environment. All this for a man-made nuclear disaster officially estimated at costing 21 trillion yen but with other estimates as high as 70 trillion yen.
As of March 2017, the decontamination program was officially declared complete and evacuation orders were lifted for the less contaminated areas of Namie and Iitate, so called area 2. The even higher radiation areas of Iitate and Namie, Area 3, and where no decontamination program has been applied, remain closed to habitation.
In terms of effectiveness, radiation levels in these decontaminated zones have been reduced in many areas but there are also multiple examples where levels remain significantly above the governments long range target levels. In addition to where decontamination has been only partially effective, the principle problem for Iitate and Namie is that the decontamination has created islands where levels have been reduced, but which are surrounded by land, and in particular, forested mountains, for which there is no possible decontamination. Forests make up more than 70% of these areas.
As a consequence, areas decontaminated are subject to recontamination through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers. Given the half life of the principle radionuclide of concern – cesium-137 at 30 years – this will be an on-going source of significant recontamination for perhaps ten half lives – or 300 years.
 
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Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant (July 2015).
So apart from the decontamination not covering the largest areas of significant contamination in the forested mountains of Fukushima, and in reality only a small fraction of the total landmass of contaminated areas, the program has generated almost unimaginable volumes of nuclear waste. According to the Japanese Government Ministry of Environment in its September 2017 report, a total of 7.5 million nuclear waste bags (equal to 8.4 million m³) from within the SDA was in storage across Fukushima.
A further 6 million m³ of waste is generated in the ICSA within Fukushima prefecture (but not including waste produced from the wider ICSA which stretches from Iwati prefecture in the north to Chiba in the south on the outskirts of Tokyo). In total nuclear waste generated from decontamination is stored at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites (TSS) and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima.
The Government projects a total of 30 million m³ of waste will be generated, of which 10 million is to be incinerated, generating 1 million cubic meters of highly contaminated ash waste. Options to use some of the less contaminated waste in construction of walls and roads is actively under consideration.
Government policy is for all of this waste to be deposited at two sites north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at Okuma and Futaba – both of which remain closed to habitation at present but which are targeted for limited resettlement as early as 2021. Although the facilities are not completed yet, they are supposed to be in operation only for 30 years – after which the waste is to be deposited in a permanent site. The reality is there is no prospects of this waste being moved to another permanent site anywhere else in Japan.
As we conducted our radiation survey work across Fukushima in September and October 2017, it was impossible not to witness the vast scale of both the waste storage areas and the volume of nuclear transports that are now underway. Again the numbers are numbing.
 
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Aerial view of a nuclear waste incinerator in Namie, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Sept 2017).
In the space of one hour standing in a main street of Iitate village, six nuclear waste trucks passed us by. Not really surprising since in the year to October over 34,000 trucks moved nuclear waste across Fukushima to Okuma and Futaba. The target volume of waste to be moved to these sites in 2017 is 500,000 m³. And this is only the beginning. By 2020, the Government is planning for as much as 6.5 million m³ of nuclear waste to be transported to the Futaba and Okuma sites – a rough estimate would mean over one million nuclear transports in 2020.
On any measure this is insanity – and yet the thousands of citizens who formally lived in Namie and Iitate are expected and pressurized by the Japanese government to return to live amidst this nuclear disaster zone.
 
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A contaminated house being demolished in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture (Sept 2017).
Perhaps one of the most shocking experience in our visit to Fukushima was to witness a vast incineration complex hidden deep in the woods of southern Iitate and a nearby vast storage area with tens of thousands of waste bags surrounded on all sides by thick forests. The tragic irony of a multi-billion dollar and ultimately failed policy of decontamination that has unnecessarily exposed thousands of poorly protected and desperate workers to radiation – but which leads to a vast nuclear dump surrounded by a radioactive forest which that can never be decontaminated.
There is no logic to this, unless you are a trucking and incineration business and of course the Japanese government, desperate to create the myth of recovery after Fukushima. On this evidence there is no ‘after’, only ‘forever’.
This new abnormal in Fukushima is a direct result of the triple reactor meltdown and a cynical government policy that prioritizes the unattainable fantasy of effective radioactive decontamination, while de-prioritising the safety, health and well being of the people of Fukushima.
The nuclear waste crisis underway in Fukushima is only one of the many reasons why the Japanese government was under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month. Recommendations were submitted to the United Nations by the governments of Austria, Mexico, Portugal and Germany at the calling on the Japanese government to take further measures to support the evacuees of Fukushima, in particular women and children.
The Government in Tokyo is to announce its decision on whether it accepts or rejects these recommendations at the United Nations in March 2018. Greenpeace, together with other human rights groups and civil society in Japan are calling on the government to accept that it has failed to defend the rights of its citizens and to agree to implement corrective measures immediately.
Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany

Gov’t says 70% of land suitable for nuclear waste disposal

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The Japanese government unveiled Friday a map indicating potential deep-underground disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, identifying some 70% of the country’s land as suitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask multiple municipalities to accept researchers looking into whether those areas can host sites to dispose of waste left by nuclear power generation. But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated amid public concerns over nuclear safety following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The nationwide map showed that up to 900 municipalities, or half of the country total, encompass coastal areas deemed “favorable.” Areas near active faults, volcanoes and potential drilling sites such as around oil fields are considered unsuitable.

For permanent disposal, high-level radioactive waste, produced as a result of the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, must be stored more than 300 meters underground so that it cannot impact human lives or the environment.

The government will store the waste in vitrified canisters for up to some 100,000 years until the waste’s radioactivity decreases.

As of March, some 18,000 tons of spent fuel existed in Japan with the figure set to increase as more nuclear plants resume operation. When spent fuel that has already been reprocessed is included, Japan will have to deal with about 25,000 such canisters.

The map, illustrated in four different colors based on levels of the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday that the unveiling of the colored map is an “extremely important step toward the realization of the final disposal but also the first step of a long road.”

Taking the map as an opportunity, “we hope to have communications (with municipalities) nationwide and earn the understanding of the public,” he said.

“It scientifically and objectively shows nationwide conditions, but it is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields which are potential drilling sites are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics” and colored in orange and silver.

Areas other than those are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones within 20 kilometers of a coastline, around 30 percent of total land, are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green.

The map has also colored as suitable a part of Fukushima Prefecture, where reconstruction efforts are underway from the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to burden the prefecture additionally with the issue of disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

The minister also indicated that Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan, home to a facility to reprocess nuclear fuel, is exempt as the prefectural government and state have agreed not to construct a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological disposal repository, while Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have decided on final disposal sites.

A process to find local governments willing to host a final repository site started in 2002 in Japan, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In 2015, the government decided to choose candidate sites suitable on scientific grounds for building a permanent storage facility, rather than waiting for municipalities to offer to host such a site.

The government aims to construct a site that can house more than 40,000 canisters, with estimated costs amounting to 3.7 trillion yen ($33 billion).

https://japantoday.com/category/national/update1-gov%27t-says-70-of-land-suitable-for-nuclear-waste-disposal#.WXxbhcFJL1A.twitter

METI Releases Map of Suitable Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites

To be clear ! No place is ‘suitable’ for storing nuke waste, never was, never will be…

Even more in Japan where you can hardly find land without an active fault beneath it, 2000 plus earthquakes per year. Not counting the volcanoes.

 

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Japan Releases Map of Areas Suitable for Nuclear Waste Disposal

Japan released a map identifying areas of the country suitable for nuclear waste disposal as part of a broader plan to figure out what to do with roughly 18,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

The map highlights areas that aren’t near fault lines, volcanoes or ground where temperatures are high — thus making them highly likely to be adequate for storing the so-called high-level radioactive waste consisting primarily of used fuel from nuclear facilities.

The map will be used to begin determining the ideal location to store the waste 300 meters (984 feet) underground, according to Hirokazu Kobayashi, director of radioactive waste management at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. More than 1,500 of Japan’s 1,800 municipalities have areas suitable for storing nuclear waste, he added.

The map’s release “is the first step on the long road toward disposing of the nation’s highly radioactive nuclear waste,” METI minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

Before storage, the fuel would be reprocessed at facilities designed to separate usable uranium from high-level waste. Construction of the nation’s first large-scale reprocessing plant at the Rokkasho complex in northern Japan is expected to finish in the first half of the next fiscal year.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-28/japan-releases-map-of-areas-suitable-for-nuclear-waste-disposal

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METI maps out suitable nuclear waste disposal sites

The government on Friday unveiled a nationwide map of potential disposal sites for high-level nuclear waste that identifies coastal areas as “favorable” and those near active faults as unsuitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask the municipalities involved to let researchers study whether sites on their land can host atomic waste disposal sites.

But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated as public concern lingers over the safety of nuclear power since the triple core meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.

The map, illustrated in four colors indicating the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said earlier Friday that the unveiling of the map is an “important step toward bringing about final disposal sites, but also the first step on a long road.”

We hope to communicate (with municipalities) nationwide and win over the public,” he said.

The map is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

To permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste, it must be stored at a repository more than 300 meters underground so it cannot harm human life or the environment.

The map identifies about 70 percent of Japan as suitable for hosting nuclear dumps. Up to 900 municipalities, or half of the nation’s total, encompass coastal areas deemed favorable for permanent waste storage.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields, which are potential drilling sites, are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics,” and hence colored in orange and silver on the map.

The other areas are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones that are within 20 km (12 miles) of the coastline are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green. The ministry formulated the classification standards in April.

Parts of giant Fukushima Prefecture, where decontamination and recovery efforts remain underway from the mega-quake, tsunami and triple core meltdown of March 2011, are also suitable, according to the map. But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to impose an additional burden on the prefecture.

Seko also signaled that Aomori Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, is exempt from the hunt because the prefectural government and the state have agreed not to build a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear power plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological site suitable for hosting a disposal repository. Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have picked final disposal sites.

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