New form of uranium found that could affect nuclear waste disposal plans

New form of uranium found that could affect nuclear waste disposal plans

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: December 20, 2019 SNIP: A new form of uranium has been discovered which is likely to have implications for current nuclear waste disposal plans, say scientists. Many governments are planning to dispose of radioactive waste by burying it deep underground. However, new research has found that in such storage conditions a new chemical form of uranium can temporarily occur, while small amounts of uranium are released into solution. If uranium is in solution, it could make its way into groundwater. The nuclear industry currently provides 20% of the UK’s power, and radioactive waste in the UK is estimated to amount to 750,000 cubic metres – enough to fill about 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is currently stored in surface sites, but it could be hundreds of thousands of years before this waste ceases to be hazardous. Governments are searching for a way to safely dispose of the waste, and an international consensus is moving towards geological nuclear waste disposal – burying it several hundred metres underground. Many countries are already building such disposal units. “You can’t sterilise the Earth,” says Prof Samuel Shaw, a mineralogist at the University of Manchester and one of the authors of the study, led by University of Manchester’s Prof Katherine Morris and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Shaw explains that wherever you bury these disposal units, there will be a wide variety of microbes living under the ground as well. Since no man-made barrier can be expected to withstand degradation for hundreds of thousands of years, radioactive waste will be in contact with groundwater containing these microbes...
Climate Change Is Breaking Open America’s Nuclear Tomb

Climate Change Is Breaking Open America’s Nuclear Tomb

SOURCE: LA Times DATE: November 10, 2019 SNIP: Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes. U.S. authorities later cleaned up contaminated soil on Enewetak Atoll, where the United States not only detonated the bulk of its weapons tests but, as The Times has learned, also conducted a dozen biological weapons tests and dumped 130 tons of soil from an irradiated Nevada testing site. It then deposited the atoll’s most lethal debris and soil into the dome. Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change. Tides are creeping up its sides, advancing higher every year as distant glaciers melt and ocean waters rise. The so-called Tomb now bobs with the tide, sucking in and flushing out radioactive water into nearby coral reefs, contaminating marine life. Officials in the Marshall Islands have lobbied the U.S. government for help, but American officials have declined, saying the dome is on Marshallese land and therefore the responsibility of the Marshallese government. “I’m like, how can it [the dome] be ours?” Hilda Heine, the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said in an interview in her presidential office in September. “We don’t want it. We didn’t build it. The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.” To many in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome is the most visible manifestation of the United States’ nuclear legacy, a...