According to Chemical and Engineering News, “More than a quarter million metric tons of highly radioactive waste sits in storage near nuclear power plants and weapons production facilities worldwide, with over 90,000 metric tons in the US alone.
Emitting radiation that can pose serious risks to human health and the environment, the waste, much of it decades old, awaits permanent disposal in geological repositories, but none are operational.”
Anywhere electricity is generated, it naturally produces waste. Today, radioactive materials are used extensively in medicine, agriculture, research, manufacturing, non-destructive testing, and minerals exploration.
Irrespective of what fuel is used, the waste produced while electricity is generated needs to be managed carefully. It must safeguard human health and also reduce the environmental impact. When it comes to radioactive waste, it involves isolating or diluting it so that the concentration of radionuclides re-entering the biosphere does not do any harm.
This is the reason, almost all of radioactive waste is contained and managed carefully. This includes permanent and deep burial. Experts agree, not only should the waste be regulated but it does not cause any pollution. The good news is that compared to other toxic industrial nuclear waste is not hazardous or hard to manage.
There are a number of opinions and different perspectives regarding radioactive waste. Over the years, many views and concerns have been expressed about the nuclear industry and in particular, radioactive waste. And questions are still raised about managing waste optimally.
THREE FORMS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE
It is important to know that radioactive waste includes material that is:
- intrinsically radioactive
- has been contaminated by radioactivity
- is considered to have no further use
This is where government policy dictates which materials are categorized as waste and which are not. Please note that radioactive waste is not unique to the nuclear fuel cycle. Compared to other hazardous waste, radioactive waste, and in particular its radioactivity depletes over time.
There are two forms of highly radioactive waste. The first one includes leftover fuels that are used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity. The second one pertains to the waste created by facilities that are involved in nuclear weapons production. It could also include facilities that recycle used power plant fuel.
If not managed, all the radioactive waste can remain dangerously for thousands of years. This is why experts agree that radioactive waste must be disposed of effectively and permanently. One way that experts propose to store liquid nuclear waste more permanently is to vitrify it.
Once this system is employed, the hazardous material is converted to glass which is more easily managed. What tilts the scale in its favour is that glass prevent toxic elements from leaking into the environment. Secondly it also shields against radioactivity leakage.
The World Nuclear Organization quotes on its website: “Nuclear power is the only large-scale energy-producing technology that takes full responsibility for all its waste and fully costs this into the product. Though the amount of waste generated by nuclear power is very small relative to other thermal electricity generation technologies.
WAYS TO TREAT NUCLEAR WASTE
As a large-scale energy-producing technology, nuclear power takes full responsibility for all its waste. Though the amount of waste generated by nuclear power is minimal compared to other thermal electricity generation technologies. This is because, nuclear waste is neither hazardous nor hard to manage.
As it is common in all industries, electricity generation naturally produces waste. Once the fuel is used and the electricity generated, the waste produced must next be managed in a way that doesn’t adversely affect human health and also reduces the impact on the environment.
To manage radioactive waste, isolation or dilution is done in such a way that the rate or concentration of any radionuclides returned to the biosphere is harmless. This is why, the radioactive waste that is generated is contained and managed and sometimes permanently buried.
TRUST SCIWISE FOR ITS RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE
When it comes to managing and disposing off radioactive waste, SciWise are acclaimed for our experience and expertise in dealing with it safely and securely. Ideally a nuclear power site that is decommissioning would need waste scanning systems that meet the norms for release by CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission).
At SciWise, we offer customizable waste characterization solutions for free release and waste monitoring in general for nuclear power plants. We are partnered with ELSE Nuclear and offer waste scanning systems and solutions.
As our Technology Partner, ELSE Nuclear designs and manufactures a comprehensive portfolio of systems for radiation detection. These are deployed in a wide range of applications like environmental monitoring, radiation protection, security, radioactive waste management, decommissioning of nuclear power plants, nuclear medicine, industry, and physics research.
In today’s competitive market, ELSE Nuclear does its best to offer not only reliable instrumentation, but also tailor-made devices built according to the customer needs and capable of fulfilling their expectations, providing solutions otherwise unattainable.
Thanks to its long and successful history, ELSE Nuclear is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of radiation detectors and environmental monitoring systems. The company’s major goal is to support and advice customers in the definition of the best solution for their requirements, starting from the design phase, down to the manufacturing and installation process.
ELSE Nuclear also provides post sales support specialized training, service and maintenance.
Its products are installed and currently operational in more than 20 countries worldwide. ELSE’s clients include research centres, particle accelerator facilities, universities, environmental agencies, nuclear power plants, industries and hospitals.
SCIWISE-TRUSTED ACROSS CANADA
Across Canada, SciWise Solutions is a trusted solutions provider for managing radioactive waste. We serve clients in a variety of core nuclear industry sectors including Nuclear Power Plants, Military and Defence, Federal Government Labs, Utilities & Research and more.
SciWise is renowned for its innovative measuring and custom solutions that meet client objectives. Plus, our quality management system is certified to: ISO 9001:2015 and CSA N299 4-16. At SciWise, we put your needs first. Check Out our full range of services at SciWise.ca/services.
At SciWise, our professional team of industry experts is ready to assist you in answering all your waste monitoring queries and developing and deploying the products you seek.
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