Nuclear Waste Management

A unique feature of nuclear power plants is the generation of extremely low quantity of radioactive waste. The spent fuel containing most of the high level radioactivity is not considered waste as it produces valuable fuel for future reactors. Spent fuel is sent for reprocessing for the extraction of plutonium, uranium and other useful isotopes. High-level waste is immobilised by verifications in glass matrix, encapsulated in stainless steel double – walled canisters and kept for interim storage for about 30 years under surveillance in concrete vault lined with stainless steel for decay of radioactivity. Ultimately waste is disposed off in deep underground geological repository with protective barriers.

During the process of electricity, smack quantity of low-and intermediate-level solid wastes are produced in nuclear power stations. After treatment, these wastes are disposed off within the plant premises in earthen trenches, reinforced cement concrete trenches or tile-holes, depending upon the radiation levels. Boreholes are made around the disposal site for sample collection and analysis to ensure no leakage of radioactivity to the outside.

Small quantities of very low levels of gaseous and liquid radioactive wastes are also produced in nuclear power stations. Gaseous wastes are filtered, monitored and disposed off through a 100 –m tall stack. Liquid wastes disposed off, are very low compared to regulatory stipulations. The impact of these wastes on the environment is estimated to be less than 1% of the stipulated does limit for the general public. 

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