Can radioactive waste be immobilized in glass for millions of years?

Can radioactive waste be immobilized in glass for millions of years?
Glass produced from a high level radioactive waste simulant. Credit: Albert Kruger/U.S. Department of Energy

How do you handle nuclear waste that will be radioactive for millions of years, keeping it from harming people and the environment?

It isn't easy, but Rutgers researcher Ashutosh Goel has discovered ways to immobilize such waste – the offshoot of decades of nuclear weapons production – in glass and ceramics.

Goel, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the primary inventor of a new method to immobilize in ceramics at room temperature. He's also the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI for six glass-related research projects totaling $6.34 million in federal and private funding, with $3.335 million going to Rutgers.

"Glass is a perfect material for immobilizing the radioactive wastes with excellent chemical durability," said Goel, who works in the School of Engineering. Developing ways to immobilize iodine-129, which is especially troublesome, is crucial for its safe storage and disposal in underground geological formations.

The half-life of iodine-129 is 15.7 million years, and it can disperse rapidly in air and water, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If it's released into the environment, iodine will linger for millions of years. Iodine targets the thyroid gland and can increase the chances of getting cancer.

Among Goel's major funders is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which oversees one of the world's largest nuclear cleanups following 45 years of producing nuclear weapons. The national weapons complex once had 16 major facilities that covered vast swaths of Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington state, according to the DOE.

The agency says the Hanford site in southeastern Washington, which manufactured more than 20 million pieces of uranium metal fuel for nine nuclear reactors near the Columbia River, is its biggest cleanup challenge.

Hanford plants processed 110,000 tons of fuel from the reactors. Some 56 million gallons of – enough to fill more than 1 million bathtubs – went to 177 large underground tanks. As many as 67 tanks – more than one third – are thought to have leaked, the DOE says. The liquids have been pumped out of the 67 tanks, leaving mostly dried solids.

The Hanford cleanup mission commenced in 1989, and construction of a for the liquid radioactive waste in tanks was launched a decade later and is more than three-fifths finished.

"What we're talking about here is highly complex, multicomponent radioactive waste which contains almost everything in the periodic table," Goel said. "What we're focusing on is underground and has to be immobilized."

Goel, a native of Punjab state in northern India, earned a doctorate in glasses and glass-ceramics from the University of Aveiro in Portugal in 2009 and was a postdoctoral researcher there. He worked as a "glass scientist" at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2011 and 2012, and then as a senior scientist at Sterlite Technologies Ltd. in India before joining the Rutgers faculty in January 2014.

The six projects he's leading or co-leading are funded by the DOE Office of River Protection, National Science Foundation and Corning Inc., with collaborators from Washington State University, University of North Texas and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

One of his inventions involves mass producing chemically durable apatite minerals, or glasses, to immobilize iodine without using high temperatures. A second innovation deploys synthesizing apatite minerals from silver iodide particles. He's also studying how to immobilize sodium and alumina in high-level radioactive waste in borosilicate glasses that resist crystallization.

At the Hanford site, creating glass with radioactive waste is expected to start in around 2022 or 2023, Goel said, and "the implications of our research will be much more visible by that time."

The research may eventually help lead to ways to safely dispose of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel that is stored now at commercial nuclear power plants.

"It depends on its composition, how complex it is and what it contains," Goel said. "If we know the chemical composition of the coming out from those plants, we can definitely work on it."


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Nov 03, 2016
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Nov 03, 2016
"Glass is a perfect material for immobilizing the radioactive wastes with excellent chemical durability," said Goel

Yes, it is! This is an excellent idea.

Nov 03, 2016
Well, it's good, but for millions of years? I have my doubts.
...not that it needs to. If it's good for 100k years then that should give us enough time to get off this rock that we continually pollute...and go and pollute somewhere else.

Humans, eh? Gotta love 'em.

There have been some claims of innovations in this area that have gone completely ignored, as well as a variety of anomalous observations related to radioactivity which suggest that we do not fully understand it yet.

Could you be any more vague, please?

Nov 03, 2016
Turn it to glass, drop into nearest subduction zone. Problem solved.

Nov 03, 2016
Well, it's good, but for millions of years? I have my doubts.


The "what about millions of years" argument is a red herring, because the same materials already exists in the ground. Iodine 129 is a natural breakdown product of uranium, so it's present in the soil already wherever uranium is present, which is damn near everywhere. Why do you think people are concerned about radon buildup in their basements?

If the waste leaks out gradually over the next couple million years, it's not going to make much of a difference over what's already present due to erosion of mountains and hills which already contain the same stuff.


Nov 03, 2016
"Why do you think people are concerned about radon buildup in their basements?"

No need for concern with radon.

Radiation hormesis: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
https://www.ncbi....2477686/

Nov 04, 2016
This is in no way the solution. At all.

Building an Integral Advanced Breeder Reactor eliminates the need for the glass entirely. Why worry about the glass (although you could still employ it if you wish) if the waste drops below the radioactivity of Uranium ore in the Earth within 500 years?

Besides all the myriad other benefits of "breeders", You also have far, far, far, far, far far, less waste to deal with.

I mean countries with a "stigma" to nuclear can choose not to go this way for sure. Doesn't matter. Russia and others will do it anyways. Hmm wonder which nation will come to the forefront.

The one with energy independence or not?

Nov 04, 2016
drop into nearest subduction zone.

I hate to bring this to you, but subduction zones don't race along at big speeds.

What you'd effectively be doing is dumping stuff to the bottom of the ocean...hoping that it would,in a couple thousand years, eventually be mangled up with sopme material and pushed into the mantle. However the top layer of a subduction zone doesn't go under reliably (anything right up top mostly gets sheared off and stays up top)

So now you have this stuff sitting at the bottom of the ocean (which is - even for glass - a rather corrosive situation). Bravo.

Nov 04, 2016
Building an Integral Advanced Breeder Reactor eliminates the need for the glass entirely

I don't know where people get the idea that breeder reactors eliminate radioactive waste. Read up on what they do. The problem remains (even though in a somewhat lesser form).

Nov 04, 2016
"If it's released into the environment, iodine will linger for millions of years..."

-It's already in the environment.

"Natural production rates of the 16 million-year iodine-129 from spontaneous fission and from cosmic-ray reactions are estimated to contribute a steady-state concentration of more than 10-14 gram of I129 per gram of I129 to the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere. These concentrations are expected to be detectable by neutron-activation analysis in natural materials that concentrate iodine."

"Glass is a perfect material for immobilizing the radioactive wastes with excellent chemical durability,"

-Nature has been storing radioactive materials for millions of years all around us.
Humans, eh? Gotta love 'em
-Says the true misanthrope.

Nov 04, 2016
And I see eikka has already informed us of Iodine129 in the environment. Of course otto does this in a little more useful and informative and unpretentious manner as usual.

Many people are asking the question

"Why is radioactive waste not simply diluted until below the biologically safe limit?"

-including the NRC. This would seem the most logical if not the most economical solution. But given the cubic miles of stuff we dig up and move around each year, mixing a very small amount of waste with it would seem to make sense in a world devoid of political hysterians and people-haters.

Plus how would be able to learn as much about how to fiddle with it, as we are now?

Learning is the important thing.

Nov 04, 2016
Let's go after the goobers who imposed this Faustian Bargain on us. Make them find a way and pay for it.

BTW, we already tried glassification or vitrification, and it did not work.

Nov 04, 2016
Previous attempts of vitrification were disastrous. The enclosed radioactive materials formed points of nucleation for crystal growth. The fracturing glass, being exothermic, attracted water with its thermal plumes, which dissolved the entrained radioactive components, then taken to the surface by the plume where they were carried away by the wind.

And it did not take long.

Nov 04, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Previous attempts of vitrification were disastrous
i see... do you ever research before you start your scaremongering fear-based arguments?
i am jsut wondering - typed in "glassifiation nuclear" and this was the first link
Studies of archeological glasses have agreed with models showing the immobilization of the important mobile nuclides during the critical time period where they are highly radioactive, encouraging the continued study and use of this methodology. [10] This process is used to prepare waste for storage at a number of nuclear power plants in Europe. [11]
http://large.stan...ompson2/

http://www.nrc.go...055.html

if you are going to make a claim, why not use references to show you know WTF you're talking about...

oops, forgot who i was talking to
never mind

Nov 04, 2016
For vitrification, I suggest you look at the real trials not some supposition based on calculations or simulations. What I described occurred years ago.

And please stop the abusive charges of "stolen valor". I proved who I am.


Nov 04, 2016
And please stop the abusive charges of "stolen valor". I proved who I am.


It is not the who that is the cause of your miseres Cher, it is the what.

Nov 04, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
For vitrification, I suggest you look at the real trials
since when have "Studies of archeological glasses" been a calculation or simulation?

that is what you call corroborating evidence (or validation) of a model

or didn't you get past high school physical science?
What I described occurred years ago
then provide links and references that can be checked and validated
otherwise you're lying, especially considering your history of making stuff up already
And please stop the abusive charges of "stolen valor"
and i demonstrated that, per *the Law*, you are not only wrong, but intentionally making a false claim that can be considered a felony
see: http://phys.org/n...ity.html

Title 10 U.S.C., Chapter 45...1334.1, Wearing of the Uniform, and Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 36-29, Military Standards
AFI 36-2903. AFI 36-28

repeating your lie doesn't make it more true

Nov 04, 2016
i see... do you ever research before you start your scaremongering fear-based arguments?
George kamburoff has admitted that since he posts under his real name he can lie as much as he pleases and expect people to believe him regardless.

But since he has proven himself to be a lying cheating psychopath, people wont believe him no matter what he says.

For instance
For vitrification, I suggest you look at the real trials not some supposition based on calculations or simulations. What I described occurred years ago
-this is a lie. We dont even have to waste time checking it because george kamburoff said it and george routinely lies.

Done.

Nov 06, 2016
Building an Integral Advanced Breeder Reactor eliminates the need for the glass entirely

I don't know where people get the idea that breeder reactors eliminate radioactive waste. Read up on what they do. The problem remains (even though in a somewhat lesser form).

Simple, look at the studies. There's plenty of literature on it.

Hmm, use less than 1% of the nuclear material or >99%.

Have the waste need to be controlled for 500 years or tens of thousands.

Sorry like I said, Russia and China are going to do this as is France now.

Nov 06, 2016
Nobody has succeeded yet have they? This is just another bright shiny object to distract us from the problems and costs of this dangerous technology, driven now only by the builders and owners.

We do not need these costly monsters. Look at the ones we have now, paid-off, yet still unable to compete with wind and solar carrying the costs of their construction.

Want one? I'll bet you can get one for free, if you assume the liabilities. Ask Excelon.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Nobody has succeeded yet have they? blah blah fear loathing self-delusional blah dangerous technology, driven now only by the builders and owners
where is the evidence supporting your claim?

and not the opinion articles, but actual valid evidence?

people like you said the same thing about airplanes, AC, cars & submarines
I'll bet you can get one for free, if you assume the liabilities. Ask Excelon
i'll take that bet!

how much are you willing to risk on this?

.

you are the one who's been arguing in various threads all over PO to keep it science or keep it on topic... so what does your *opinion* have to do with the science?

where is your evidence supporting your *opinion*?

why do you think your *opinion* is more important than anyone else?

and don't say "MS degree" b/c you've already proven that it was paid for and you don't have a baccalaureate, which is required for a "real" MS in STEM

per your request and conditions...

Nov 06, 2016
We do not need these costly monsters
This is what I say about lying cheating psychopaths like George kamburoff.

Nov 06, 2016
The facts are this "remedy" has already been tried and seen to fail, catastrophically. It not only returned the radioactive components into the environment, it put them into the air for all of us to breathe.

Look up the studies if you do not believe me. But your opposition is from adolescent emotion, isn't it? I made you angry, and now, you have to get "even". You can't separate your hate for those who bested you from the topics.

Outgrow it.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
The facts are this "remedy" has already been tried and seen to fail, catastrophically
1- prove it

2- the article above says otherwise, as well as my links and references
just because you believe something doesn't mean it's true
Look up the studies if you do not believe me
you made the claim, you present the studies that support your position
that is how real science works... they don't take people's "word" simply because they claim to be an authority, they expect evidence for the claim

your opposition is from adolescent emotion, and that is demonstrated by your refusal to link evidence or references
and your refusal to actually use evidence to refute my links/etc

this is why you post things like
I'll bet you can get one for free, if you assume the liabilities
You can't separate your hate for those who bested you from the topics, with evidence

so you lash out with emo slogan-fearmongering

so per your request
reported

Nov 06, 2016
"your opposition is from adolescent emotion, and that is demonstrated by your refusal to link evidence or references"
-------------------------------

I'll tell that to the victims of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

And your entire need is to punish me for outing you as a phony veteran. I proved my service. Prove your alleged service.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
I'll tell that to the victims of Chernobyl and Fukushima
so what you're saying is: you can't actually present a scientific argument that gives evidence to support your claims

but you don't see this as being off topic or emotional fearmongering?
really?
punish me for outing you as a phony veteran
really?
you have copies of my DD-214
More to the point, should you ever actually make good on your attempted bullying threat to litigate, you will see that i can prove everything i've said/posted/e-mailed

feel free to sue... i wholeheartedly support your decision to do it
Prove your alleged service
OK
http://s1027.phot...p;page=1

google my DD-214 pic
it proves you are a liar

.

now, per your own request to clean up the site, and because you can't actually provide science or a scientific argument for your emo BS claims or refute me evidence/links...
reported

Nov 06, 2016
Your site does not work. I told you that days ago, but you still promote it, hoping nobody will notice it is phony.

You never served, I can tell by your ignorance of the real world of service. You read up on the boilerplate, but live only in your dreams.

Why not just get over your hatred of those who got the better of you?

Nov 06, 2016
Your site does not work. I told you that days ago, but you still promote it, hoping nobody will notice it is phony.
Works fine for me. Maybe you don't have the high enough secret classification. Or maybe you are just not very good at the interweb.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Your site does not work
1- yes, it does

2- "The website interruptions were due to technical issues encountered during an upgrade"
you can read that on the site you refuse to check (still)

3- your refusal to actually address the science content is stunning
you are the one wanting to "clean up PO" and get rid of the off topic stupidity, so, per your own request...

more to the point:
everything i have posted is substantiated by evidence

it aint a claim, or argument from self-percieved authority, or your emotional outbursts... and it aint about claims of experience that are directly refuted by the evidence, like your charging your e-car with solar panels at night

evidence linked above - not claims

where is your evidenciary refute of the science argument i made above?
why are you still attempting to distract from the science?
why can't you actually prove anything with evidence?

i'll be back L8er to ask where the evidence is again

Nov 06, 2016
Stop dodging the question: Did you serve? Prove it, as I did.

And your site does not work, just like you. Send me the papers. You have mine, much to your dismay. I am real and was celebrated. You failed.

Nov 06, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 06, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Stop dodging
i'm not
you are
Did you serve?
why is that relevant to the science i posted above?
Prove it
& again: http://s1027.phot...&o=3

your site does not work
not my site, moron... it's photobucket
and it does work, you're just an idiot
Send me the papers
ok. send me the summons
... celebrated
leave your delusions out of this
You failed
you still can't prove this
but i can prove you're a liar & claim a medal you can't prove you earned, which is STOLEN VALOR

so, now that i've answered your post with evidence:

when are you going to provide evidence for your claims about vitrification?

when are you going to refute the links and references that i've posted with equivalent evidence?

you have yet to provide equivalent evidence
i've given plenty, but you only make claims

so, per your request
reported

Nov 06, 2016
Oh,my. I give up. There is nothing readable in that new post.

Why are you so scared? You saw my information, but cannot show yours. It is because you are like otto - not real, just another anonymous sniper attacking the Decent Folk on the internet.

I sent you to three military websites with my name and/or picture on them. Where are your websites? I sent you my performance reports to your dismay. Where are yours?

You saw my award from the Air Force Flight Test Center. Where is yours? You saw that I helped put together, test, deploy and operate the Electronic Battlefield. What did you do?

Trash others, that's what. If you have or are nothing yourself, you can always tear the Decent Folk down to your level.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Oh,my. I give up
so does that mean you will finally actually answer the post?
discuss the science?
you know, support your claims about "vitrification"?
but cannot show yours
so, you can't provide the science or references to support your claim, therefore you are intentionally dodging the question and making it all about you?

I aint letting that go - you wanted to talk science... well, talk science
but show your references and quit lying
with my name and/or
when discussing GR, Einstein didn't say "because i said so, and i have a degree"

there were ways to validate the theory (like the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, deflection of light by the Sun, etc)

so why should we believe you?

especially when you have proven to be a chronic liar?

and to have violated the law?

you are the one wanting to clean up PO, so why not start by discussing the science and validating your claim

like i said: i posted evidence

your turn

Nov 06, 2016
No, Trumpy, you accused me of stolen valor, even though I proved my service. You cannot prove you served, as you have continually lied.

Ever since I proved I was at Edwards AFB working on rocket planes, and was involved in the Electronic Battlefield, and the other stuff, you went crazy. You assumed I was like you and otto and Ira, a liar using a phony name to play what you call your "games".

Well I am real, and apparently more accomplished than the three sniping vandals who haunt this site.

Now, show us your proof. You continue to say you have done so, but it is just another Trumpism.

Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
show us your proof
i just did

so what you're saying is: you have absolutely no evidence at all whatsoever (still) and in order to distract from that point you will instead redirect with another proven lie?

ok
you accused me of stolen valor, even though I proved my service
1- i didn't accuse you, i proved it

2- i never said you didn't serve, i said you couldn't prove you had the Combat V, which is called stolen valor
Well I am real, and apparently more accomplished
if this were true, you would have linked either your:
Certificate of aware for the Combat V
201 file
DD-214 with annotation in section 24 (on yours) "decorations, medals, badges, citations and campaign ribbons awarded or authorized (all periods of service)"

all this is also explained in the UCMJ, AFI's and regulations referenced above

so, per the law, your claim of combat V without evidence or citation award is called STOLEN VALOR and can also be fraud


Nov 06, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
here is where you and i differ
Now, show us your proof. You continue to say you have done so
ok, yet again, because you can't read

the science proof, in my first post, sans the quote
http://large.stan...ompson2/

http://www.nrc.go...055.html

proof that you're a liar claiming stolen valor per the law, UCMJ and AFI's
Title 10 U.S.C., Chapter 45...1334.1, Wearing of the Uniform, and Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 36-29, Military Standards, AFI 36-2903. AFI 36-28
so *again*, i just gave you the proof, in writing, more than once, in one thread

now you will distract with your typical cry-baby rant and absolutely no evidence whatsoever that contradicts, refutes or in any way challenges my evidence above

all while complaining about snipers & Acronyms
then you will lie about me being anonymous and also about more "you proved" irrelevant OT content

FOAD

Nov 07, 2016
It already costs $2200/kg to store nuclear waste. Adopt some more regulations, it'll cost more. They've been talking about glass storage for 30 YEARS, nothing has come of it. Just dump the stuff into geologically inert salt mines, it's cheap and it's been a viable solution for 40 years.

Nov 07, 2016
. Just dump the stuff into geologically inert salt mines

Unfortunately it turns out that salt mines aren't as inert as previously thought.

We currently have that issue in germany
https://en.wikipe..._II_mine
Where stuff was dumped into a salt mine - and the cannisters are already corroding a decade lader. The trouble is: No one knows how to go about getting this stuff back out.

Lesson to learn: Never bet on a 'solution' that you cannot undo.

They've been talking about glass storage for 30 YEARS, nothing has come of it.

Karlsruhe did it for their nuclear research facility
https://de.wikipe...arlsruhe
60 cubic meters of nuclear waste (containing, amongst other stuff, 405kg uranium and 16.5kg). Cost for the facility, process and - temporary - storage is projected to be about 2.6bn Euro (of which 2.1bn are additional taxes).


Nov 07, 2016
"Why is radioactive waste not simply diluted until below the biologically safe limit?"


Because it would still build up in levels over the years. Dilution is a one-time solution if you expect there to be no more waste to deal with. If you keep digging up more uranium, and burning it into high level waste, and sprinkling the waste around, it will start to bioaccumulate in animals and plants and becomes a problem.

No need for concern with radon.


It's the single largest contributor to lung cancer after smoking cigarettes. It has a short half-life of a few days, where it breaks down to radioactive lead-210 which is deposited on surfaces and in people. The 210-Pb then slowly decays into Polonium-214 which is extremely toxic and also more radioactive, which makes it the main contributor to lung cancer.

The Polonium ultimately breaks down to plain lead. The whole half-life chain from radon to stable lead takes about 25 years.

Nov 07, 2016
storage is projected to be about 2.6bn Euro (of which 2.1bn are additional taxes).


What does that mean?

Seems to me that they built a vitrification plant for the single use of disposing the 60 cubic meters of liquid nuclear waste from the research facility.

wikipedia:
The costs for the glazing facility and later temporary storage of the glass molds are estimated at around € 350 million. The total cost of dismantling plants, glazing and storage was estimated to be € 2.6 billion in 2009.


Nov 07, 2016
Because it would still build up in levels over the years
-You mean the same way that naturally-occurring radioactive materials 'build up' over the years?

I think you need to source that or admit you made it up.

Nov 07, 2016
You mean the same way that naturally-occurring radioactive materials 'build up' over the years?


Not quite.

Naturally occurring radioactive materials consist of uranium and thorium and their breakdown products. The other elements have very short half-lives compared to uranium and thorium, so their proportion in the mix is naturally small - they break down so much faster than they are generated that the levels can't really build up, so the elements such as potassium 40 or iodine 129 in the rocks and soil exist in trace amounts only. They're few parts per billon.

Whereas, if you put uranium and thorium into reactors and burn it up, and then sprinkle the high level waste around, you're accelerating the breakdown of the uranium/thorium to be faster than the daughter isotopes, so the proportion of the more harmful isotopes to the relatively harmless uranium and thorium in the environment begins to change for the worse.


Nov 07, 2016
I don't know where people get the idea that breeder reactors eliminate radioactive waste. Read up on what they do. The problem remains (even though in a somewhat lesser form).


For the IFR:
https://en.wikipe...reactors

The primary argument for pursuing IFR-style technology today is that it provides the best solution to the existing nuclear waste problem because fast reactors can be fueled from the waste products of existing reactors as well as from the plutonium used in weapons
...
total volume of true waste/fission products is 1/20th the volume of spent fuel produced by a light water plant of the same power output
...
Technetium-99 and iodine-129, which constitute 6% of fission products, have very long half lives but can be transmuted to isotopes with very short half lives (15.46 seconds and 12.36 hours) by neutron absorption within a reactor, effectively destroying them

Nov 07, 2016
No such problem with wind and solar.

Why do we let them get us into such disasters? And they do it for money.

Disgusting. Deep down, do they know they are pushing us toward extinction with their dangerous technologies?

Nov 07, 2016
and 16.5kg

Just noticed: That should read 16.5kg Plutonium.

Nov 08, 2016

Whereas, if you put uranium and thorium into reactors and burn it up, and then sprinkle the high level waste around, you're accelerating the breakdown of the uranium/thorium to be faster than the daughter isotopes, so the proportion of the more harmful isotopes to the relatively harmless uranium and thorium in the environment begins to change for the worse
?? So youre suggesting that waste be combined with uranium and thorium ore? How far do you think radiation travels in the ground? And how does 'sprinkle around' relate to mixing waste with bulk materials and returning it to the ground?

You're still ad libbing probably because you can't justify your original ad lib with a ref. I'm just guessing mind you.

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