DISCLAIMER – First day of Northern Hemisphere SPRING, 2015
- Tuesday morning, March 17, I visited the HADES tunnels of EURIDICE at the SCK-CEN Belgian Nuclear Research Centre. (See Previous blog post)
- There’s many more articles, of course. I’m not going to keep translating. You get the idea. But this one article, local news from Mol, is worth mentioning. I find the photo choices and overal article among the better ones (in Dutch): http://www.hln.be/regio/nieuws-uit-mol/nucleair-afval-kan-ondergronds-a2260041/
Hope passing this along is somehow helpful.
Interesting timely development
Does it now mean Belgium knows where they’ll put the waste for the next million years? Well, “in clay somewhere” it what it sounds like. But, otherwise, No, the issue of WHERE will be many more years before that key issue will be tackled, the way they’re going about it. The news is really only this: The researchers are confident that still-soft clay is a suitable medium for relatively safe véry long-term disposal of high-level nuclear waste. And the government needs to make the next decision now.
Given the geological time involved, it’s only to be expected that some experiments need to take place over the course of years or decades. Why they would move along their schedule in such a snail pace sequence for everything else as well, however, is not clear to me. I see no reasons why a search can not already begin to tackle site selection challenges.
Many Unknowns Left To Be Researched…
Just off the bat, I can imagine that studies that would help identify the best suitable locations would benefit from more detailed mapping of various geological features. That could begin right away (perhaps by the National Geological Institute), such as seeking more insight in long-term hydrological and seismic trends and possibilities. There is always more to learn. Kicking the can to the next government or even generations is not a responsible choice to move this extremely important project along.
And why are they not talking about expanding so many possible areas of research? There are so many fields that, at least as far as I know, that are barely looked into deeply.
I think of those white string-like bacteria “of unknown DNA sequence” that showed up mysteriously inside old nuclear fuel assemblies in the US, or the Peak District microorganisms that could “eat” radioactive waste discovered in the UK, for instance. Could they show up deep down at some point as well? Could that be helpful? Or be made helpful? More research will lead to more discoveries.
Or, just to brainstorm a bit more… How do electric currents run through various ground layers? Like low-frequency complex Telluric currents, or those associated with thunderstorms. How are they affected by what would be akin to “underground radioactive clouds”? As we know, radioactive clouds in air (such as after Chernobyl and Fukushima) significantly affect the electric conductivity of air… (See Page 24 @ ‘radiation and air electricity’, mentioned in my Jan 15, 2015 blog post, “Gaging Recent Radiation Spikes: How do the Recent Gamma Upticks Compare to those Observed after Chernobyl?“) How does the clay’s conductivity change when radioisotopes move by diffusion through the clay? Are there subtle effects of such waste disposal that could eventually even affect the weather somehow? Or bird migration? There are so many things we know almost nothing about.
Could changes deep underground affect sensitive animals above-ground? Could indigenous people (like the Kogi in Colombia, to just mention just one tribe I saw a documentary about the other day), or “urban shamans” be consulted to help with site location, or could they/we play a role in aspects of the long-term stewarding?
If the public is going to be involved in the decision process, -to make a convincing case for a specific long-term management plan- a bit more knowledge than data on heating clay and how fast waste spreads in clay is called for, in my view. For now, that’s my input as “a member of the public”…
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Other sites (in Dutch) I looked at with some additional perspectives were:
- Good background news on the clay waste disposal (Canvas, 2012): http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws/videozone/archief/programmas/koppen/2.20210/2.20211/1.1240998
- Concerns about the proposed across the border in The Netherlands: http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/6756/Kernenergie/article/detail/1384394/2012/01/24/Nederland-ongerust-over-diepe-berging-Belgisch-kernafval.dhtml
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[Last edited: March 26, 2015.]