Effect of organic carbon on the mobility of radioactive wastes in a geological disposal facility
What is it about?
It is likely that radioactive wastes will be placed in an underground geological disposal facility. Such a facility will be dry during its operational phase but will likely become saturated with groundwater after closure. Extensive use of concrete will form part of the engineering of the facility. Once re-saturated with groundwater this will create a highly alkali (high pH) environment. Dissolved organic carbon is the brown discolouration you see in streams draining peat moorland and is the product of the decay of once living plants and organisms (the tannic acid that makes your black tea is another example). This organic carbon is present in all groundwaters and is an important chemical in the mobility of dissolved metals - including radioactive elements. This study reviews the currently available science relating to interactions between dissolved radioactive metals and organic carbon in high pH environments.
Why is it important?
Once closed a geological disposal facility will be saturated with groundwater and the interaction with concrete will create a high pH environment. In order to robustly predict radioactive element behaviour under different safety scenarios we need experimental data on the interactions with organic carbon.
The following have contributed to this page: Anthony Stockdale