HOT NUCLEAR WASTES WILL INCREASE GROUNDWATER FLOW

Radioactive Water

Important New Scientific Publication

Modelling groundwater flow changes due to thermal effects of radioactive waste disposal at a hypothetical repository site near Sellafield, UK

A. P. Fraser Harris, C. I. McDermott, O. Kolditz, R. S. Haszeldine
Environ Earth Sci
DOI 10.1007/s12665-015-4156-6

“Substantial heating reduces fluid density and dynamic viscosity. Groundwater flows upwards through permeable damage zones of high-angle faults and increases natural velocity by 1.5×.  Elevated groundwater temperatures are predicted at the surface in just hundreds of years. Travel times for conservative chemical species from the hypothetical repository to the St. Bees Sandstone aquifer are reduced by over one-third if engineered barriers fail at the point of containment, and remain reduced by hundreds of years for particles released thousands of years after containment. ……It is necessary to model heat advection and faults at fractured sites”.

This paper suggests that the UK Government modelling of deep groundwater flow  appears to have ignored the heat effects. These would be especially important in a repository where co-disposal of high-level waste and spent fuel is envisaged with intermediate level waste.  Remember the Nirex Inquiry turned down the 1997 push for a dump for intermediate level wastes because Cumbria’s geology is too complex,  now the plan is for heat generating wastes to be included.

The very clear conclusion from this new independent scientific paper from highly respected Professors is that heat is an extremely important factor to simulate.

It is remarkable that none of the official modelling of radwaste disposal in the UK seems to have included the effect of heat influencing groundwater flow.  Extra heat from waste warms the water, and reduces viscosity as well as reducing density.

Consequently, the travel time of groundwater from close to the repository to
reach the overlying aquifers, is reduced from tens of thousands of years to hundreds of years (or less!!!)

Modelling groundwater flow changes due to thermal effects of radioactive waste
disposal at a hypothetical repository site near Sellafield, UK
A. P. Fraser Harris, C. I. McDermott, O. Kolditz, R. S. Haszeldine
Environ Earth Sci
DOI 10.1007/s12665-015-4156-6

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