Storing radioactive waste safely underground

Dutch radioactive waste can be safely stored deep in layers of clay and rock salt. This will not result in long-term radiation hazards for humans. This was the main conclusion of the Opera research programme, which came to an end last year and in which TU Delft participated. The seven-year research project was coordinated by radioactive waste organisation Covra.

Assistant professor Phil Vardon and Dr Patrick Arnold (both CEG) used computer simulations to see how layers of clay would behave if the ground was warmed up by the radioactive material. Only in 2130 will the radioactive waste stored at Covra (in Borssele) be definitively disposed of deep in the earth. This final disposal is designed to last for at least one hundred thousand years. By 2130 the Netherlands is expected to have over 170,000 barrels of nuclear waste, 1,200 barrels of which are highly radioactive.  

Photo © Sam Rentmeester