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People get injected with specialized isotopes all the time for medical purposes. I have never heard of anyone collecting them after, and the isotopes in question get picked because the body is good at eliminating them once they have served their purpose. So they end up in the sever. That isnt that big a deal, since the decay chains are short, but the point is noone gives half a darn.

Re; depositories. I have read the design specs on the Finnish and Swedish proposals. They are overkill. They are also no going to run over, because.. well, Sweden. Rockworks is not exactly an unknown engineering discipline.
Also read the specs on yucca, which really, really fracking ought to be used. The critique points are along the lines of "If the yucca desert sees a 3 order increase in average rainfall, waste may escape in 500000 years"... at which point, it would have decayed to harmlessness. And because of that risk, currently, waste is getting left at reactors. Which is so much better. Arrgh. Harry Reid is a menace.

by Thomas on Tue Aug 6th, 2013 at 04:41:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's really not the main source of isotopes from hospitals. The by far larger source is the waste from the sources generating the medical isotopes. And those are disposed of as radioactive waste.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 02:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't be compared to corium or spent fuel rods either.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Particles moving at relativistic speeds are particles moving at relativistic speed. Doesn't matter where they come from. Subatomic particles do not come with return addresses.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Migs said, is what i commented about.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 06:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, Jake's "sources generating the medical isotopes" would be at least medium-life radioactive materials whose decay products are the short-lived medical isotopes.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 06:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, but they are not disposed of in sewers, as i posted:


Thomas, in what "civilized" lands are hospitals allowed to dispose of "high-activity isotopes" in the sewers? Even low-level waste? What are all those specialized containers (and procedures) for then?

In fact, and i don't know if it's still the case, decades ago many sensitive stands to hold stuff which couldn't move had lead-shielded U-isotopes as heavy weight in their support frames, just as fighter-bombers used to have, and may still have, as trim weight.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 10:05:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mostly because the medical isotopes have very short half-lives of the order of hours.

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:38:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
the point is noone gives half a darn

How much of a point is that anyway? What major nuclear accidents show is that the risks are very considerable, insuring against them isn't possible, and even (as may be the case with Fukushima), the costs may rise to such a level no entity, private or public, is going to face them (ie things will be left to go to hell). Whether people's fears about radioactivity are ignorant or not is a red herring.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 06:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Three hundred years into the future, the fission products have gone (reduced to 0.1% of original). The actinides decay has only just started.

This is what the world looks like when you move 300 years along the time line in the opposite direction.

I don't doubt that the geology behind these repositories (the Finnish one at least) is OK. But, humanity is a geological force already today, and a lot less predictable than the natural ones. I have no problem with nuclear technologies as such -- they are impressive engineering feats. But, before basing our planet's energy economy on them, we should perhaps get ourselves a new humanity to go with it.

by mustakissa on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 12:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It will, indeed, be trivial for our descendants to dig the stuff back up if they decide to. This is a feature, not a bug. There are disposal methods that would take the stuff permanently out of the biosphere, but that would be unjust since once it is cooled off some, this stuff has lots of potential uses. The goal of a depository is not to get permanently rid of it, but to store it for an arbitrary length of time.
by Thomas on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 01:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 03:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and i'll disagree with Jake for giving that post a four.

  1. There is nothing "trivial" about a civilization which poisons its food, air and water digging up the effluent of a process it didn't understand in the first place. (One could argue that this civilization did understand the technology of splitting the atom, or at least some of it, without actually knowing where it would lead.)

  2. There are no demonstrable, cost-effective "disposal" methods which "would take the stuff permanently out of the biosphere," certainly not proven over even a small portion of the time scale of the danger. Everything else is speculation.

  3. The level of safe, sustainable alternatives makes this discussion ridiculous, at least until war and hatred and famine and injustice are ended. But technologists never put anything into context. (I'm addressing the nuclear elite, here, not Jake. Look at the success of the oil-based Green Revolution, for example, or read about the benefits of coal from two centuries ago.)

  4. thomas has already blamed the lack of demonstrable, cost effective "storage" solutions on greens and nimbys. coming from a Native mind-set, i'll want to be a Niaby... not in anyone's backyard.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 04:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not going into wheter it would work as claimed, the Swedish nuclear fuel management company (SKB) has investigated a deep hole solution with 2000-4000 meters deep holes where encapsulated waste would be dropped and covered up without any known way of retrieving it. Which is presumably what Thomas refers to.

However, that is not the solution in the proposed end waste facility outside Forsmark, where instead the waste is to be stored in copper containers, wrapped in bensonit mud (which increases in volume when wet) and stored 500 meter down in rock. This is called the KBS-3 model, and the waste will be retrievable be design. The main point of debate in Sweden is at what speed the copper layer will corrode under the planned circumstances.

I do not know precisely why the KBS-3 was chosen over deep holes, which includes not knowing if deep holes were judged more expensive or unsafe. If guessing, I would say that an organisation running continuos improvements over the foreseeable future suits Swedish policy makers better then a final technical solution.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 05:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deep bore holes are not an option for two reasons.

One is retrievability, even if this isn't talked about much. The other is risks. What do you do if something goes wrong while you're lowering the canister into the borehole? What if it gets stuck, or the cable breaks, or something else happens? Basically, you're screwed then.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 10:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. Nuclear waste is not like chemical waste. Decay chains have predictable endpoints, and it becomes less dangerous over time. A fuel rod fresh from the reactor contains a witches brew. The same rod 400 years later contains uranium, plutonium, Technetium, stable platinum group  metals and odds and ends of other non-radioactive bits.  Odds that someone in 2503 is going to look at that composition list and have uses for 100% of it are pretty darn high.
Certainly, it is not a decision we want to take away from them, and if they do not want the stuff, they can leave it in the ground.
Where it will stay.
 As legacies of our current industrial civilizations go, this one is nearly infinitely kinder than the CO2 or dioxin, or hormone mimic chemicals, ect, ect, ect, ect.
by Thomas on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 08:44:37 AM EST
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