FAQ

How is spent fuel managed?

Answer

Spent reactor fuel lead to vitrified high-level waste (HLW) - Long-lived intermediate level waste (LILW-LL), reactor operational wastes, reprocessing wastes (fuel assembly parts), decommissioning wastes (reactor internals), depleted U from fuel manufacture, fissile materials from weapons dismantling & surplus from fuel reprocessing, plutonium: glass or ceramic (or MOX) and enriched uranium (HEU). They will be stored in deep geological repositories.

Background

Spent reactor fuel lead to vitrified high-level waste (HLW) - Long-lived intermediate level waste (LILW-LL), reactor operational wastes, reprocessing wastes (fuel assembly parts), decommissioning wastes (reactor internals), depleted U from fuel manufacture, fissile materials from weapons dismantling & surplus from fuel reprocessing, plutonium: glass or ceramic (or MOX) and enriched uranium (HEU). They will be stored in deep geological repositories.
Geologic repositories –properly sited and built –will be safe. There is today NO feasible alternative to deep geological disposal. Implementing a geological disposal is a challenging and interdisciplinary task–technically and socially. The major challenges today are the social ones, the famous Not in My Back-Yard (NIMBY).
Deep Disposal are made to isolate the waste from people and the environment until natural processes of decay & dilution prevent any radionuclide from returning in concentrations that pose a hazard. Hard, crystalline rocks, granite, gneiss, tuffs, metamorphic basement, sediments, clays, marls, volcanic sediments, shale, salt domes, bedded salts, anhydrite can be adequate for the siting of deep geological repositories. The groundwater flow environment is more important than the rock type!
The safety analysis uses the same approach as the reactors, multiple barriers: waste form, container, buffer, backfill, geology: 
  * the barriers or combinations of them provide safety functions e.g. containment, chemical conditioning, retardation,
    dilution.
 * human intrusions are also considered.
Small countries having nuclear programs also need a solution for their wastes, why not a multinational repository? Such solutions are being considered for the future.
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