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View Diary: Hanford's Radwaste Tanks Leaking & Explosive, Waste Treament Plant Unsafe: Whistleblowers Vindicated (159 comments)

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  •  I do recognize the difference. (6+ / 0-)

    Which is why I described what's in those leaking, soon to be explosive tanks at Hanford as...

    the Mother Of All Dirty Bombs itching to go off, producing hydrogen gas in flimsy, leaking underground tanks holding the chemically dissociated high-enriched ultra-nasty sludge left over from H-bomb production
    This "burn it" garbage is about panning the sludge for leftover U235 and P239 (and a couple other fissile unnaturals), to be mixed with the usual heavy metal filler (U238) and turned into fuel pellets and loaded into rods braced together into assemblies for use in commercial reactors. Fuel. It may be more or less enriched (percentage of fissile material), but the reaction and the waste products are the same either way, and the higher enriched assemblies will be hotter for their entire use-waste cycle.

    They will not be salvaging the non-fissile elements or the daughters, or the granddaughters, etc. They just want the intact fissile ones. That process will do absolutely nothing to 'burn', bury, stabilize, hide, tuck into bed, or in any other way render ANY daughter or decay chain fragment more stable, less radioactive, or shorten its half-life by a single nanosecond. It all still remains, every bit as deadly as it ever was. They can render it into a solid form (vitrification) so it can be more safely stored - if it doesn't flash the workers to death on the spot or blow up the building - while the salvaged fuel goes right on producing more high level spent fuel waste that will have to be safely stored and managed just like all high level spent fuel waste from our nuclear adventures. The same old few hundred tons' worth that every reactor produces every year it's in operation.

    The ONLY thing this accomplishes is to diminish the mining and enrichment end by the amount of fissile material they can salvage from the dangerous Hanford slurry. The cost of the salvaging doesn't look to be any cheaper than mining.

    •  I am curious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino

      What the hell can we do with this crap.  Vitrification seems a best option, no?

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:10:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've some hope for vitrification, (4+ / 0-)

        not at all confident it's a timely - or workable - solution to the issues at Hanford. They thought they'd "done something with it" when they pumped mixed the accumulated sludge into underground tanks. Now the tanks are leaking badly and in danger of explosion. Something definitely has to be done right away, and this project doesn't look very promising in that department.

        That's why Bechtel is getting such flak - the DoE scientists themselves don't know that much about what's in those tanks or how to safely handle it, Bechtel keeps wasting time and money building junk those same scientists say won't even work. A barrel of slurry can go critical, they've been known to do so on occasion for no apparent reason, killing everybody within range quite quickly and painfully. Very nasty, very dangerous stuff. There's lots and lots and lots of barrels of slurry in those tanks that have been churning unholy mixtures for decades.

        Seems to me the first thing they need to do is suspend Bechtel's contract for the duration until the Big Brains have come up with something actually workable and receive the power to call the construction shots, throw everything they've got right now into constructing and installing new tanks with proper ventilation and filtration (and reliable off-grid backup power), and get the crap transferred into them. Go ahead and sample while they're at it, learn more about what the mixtures are.

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