Deep Borehole Disposal of Plutonium


Excess plutonium not destined for burning as MOX or in Generation IV reactors is both a long-term waste management problem and a security threat. Immobilisation in mineral and ceramic-based waste forms for interim safe storage and eventual disposal is a widely proposed first step. The safest and most secure form of geological disposal for Pu yet suggested is in very deep boreholes and we propose here that the key to successful combination of these immobilisation and disposal concepts is the encapsulation of the waste form in small cylinders of recrystallized granite. The underlying science is discussed and the results of high pressure and temperature experiments on zircon, depleted UO2 and Ce-doped cubic zirconia enclosed in granitic melts are presented. The outcomes of these experiments demonstrate the viability of the proposed solution and that Pu could be successfully isolated from its environment for many millions of years.

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Correspondence to G. F. Gibb Fergus.

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Fergus, G.F.G., Kathleen, J.T. & Boris, E.B. Deep Borehole Disposal of Plutonium. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1107, 51 (2008).

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