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Deep Borehole Disposal of Radioactive Waste: Next Steps and Applicability to National Programs

Deep Borehole Disposal of Radioactive Waste: Next Steps and Applicability to National Programs

Full Title: Deep Borehole Disposal of Radioactive Waste: Next Steps and Applicability to National Programs
Author(s): Peter Swift and Andrew Newman
Publisher(s): Columbia SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy
Publication Date: November 11, 2022
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Deep borehole disposal of high-level radioactive waste has been proposed repeatedly and in multiple countries over the last several decades, but the concept remains unproven in the field. A straightforward research, development, and demonstration test program could provide answers to basic questions about the viability of the concept. This program would involve the construction of two or perhaps more boreholes to test disposal concepts using surrogate, nonradioactive waste. Field tests would focus on the engineering and operational feasibility of deep borehole disposal, the availability of favorable rock types at depth, appropriate designs for waste forms and waste packaging, and the long-term performance of borehole repositories. Because of the scale of the project, it might best be undertaken as an international collaboration, perhaps led by the US Department of Energy but with participation from multiple national programs to ensure it meets a wide range of needs.

This report reviews the borehole disposal concepts proposed to date, identifies potentially suitable waste forms worldwide, and proposes a field-testing program that could resolve many remaining technical questions and inform future programmatic decisions. The report also summarizes the potential benefits of borehole disposal in terms of public acceptance, cost, and security.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of OurEnergyPolicy.org, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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