Hazards Associated with Waste Disposal

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Hazards Associated with Waste Disposal prevent infiltration and the site is domes upon During the initial phase of high radioactivity the waste
completion to ensure that water runs off the surface was stored above ground in sealed containers
Landfill: and is capped with an impermeable layer. resistant to corrosion.
Over 50% of the waste materials produced in the UK Long-term storage requires a geological setting from
are disposed of as landfill in abandoned quarries and Radon: which any fluids that did become contaminated in the
other low lying areas. Impermeable sites must be Radon is a radioactive gas that has no smell, taste or event of leakage could only fin their way up to the
chosen, or permeable sites must ne lined with an colour. It comes from the natural decay of uranium surface very slowly and in a diluted form.
impermeable clay liner or sheets of plastic called that is found in nearly all rock and soil.
membranes. Both techniques can be used. Nuclear Waste:
Leachate is still produced and must be collected and Outdoor radon is not a hazard because the air Radioactive pollutants with half-lives of many millions
removed for treatment. movement scatters the radon into the atmosphere and of lives will remain dangerous to living things long into
so prevents it from building up into dangerous the future. Disposal regulations for this type of waste
The decay of any organic material within the landfill concentrations. are much more stringent, so much so that a safe place
generates methane and this percolates sideways and for the disposal of this waste has yet to be found in
upwards. Methane is highly explosive if it collects near For high radon concentration in a building, four factors Britain.
buildings, and houses have been blown apart by are involved;-
methane gas from waste tips. Most of today's domestic 1. Built on ground that contains sufficient Disposal of Radioactive Waste:
waste deposal sites collect the methane and pipe it to a uranium. The radioactive fuel is removed from the reactor and at
place where it can be burned safely. Alternatively, the most sites this is `spent' fuel being stored temporarily in
gas can be used for fuel such as heating purposes or 2. Underlying soil that allows the easy water-filled cooling pools. As the cooling pools of
to produce electricity of a small scale. movement of radon gas. many reactors are rapidly being filled, many reactors
3. Porous building materials, cracks or other may soon have to close down due to lack of storage
Abandoned brick pits are widely used for waste openings below the ground surface allow space for the deadly waste.
disposal because of the natural low permeability of the radon in from the soil.
clay and wastes are often transported many miles to be 4. Lower air pressure inside than the soil around Most of the current proposed solutions involve burying
deposited in them. the foundations. it underground in a special store with strong enough
protection to stop its radioactivity escaping.
Waste disposal in the UK has recently been affected by Radon from building materials rarely causes any radon
landfill tax which had the effect of doubling the costs problems. Radon is easily dissolved in water, but water As part of the routine operation of every nuclear power
of hiring a skip for waste disposal but it is releasing rarely contributes to the high indoor radon levels. station some waste material is released into the
funds for projects to improve the environment . environment. Liquid waste is discharged with turbine
Radon decays into radioactive particles, which can be cooling water into the sea or a near-by river and
Landfill sites are obvious sites for groundwater trapped in the lungs and can cause lung cancer by gaseous waste is released into the atmosphere.
pollution. Domestic and industrial waste will releasing small bursts of energy.
decompose and release organic and inorganic High Level Waste consists mainly of irradiated fuel
pollutants into any percolating water. This chemical There are two ways to test for radon. from the cores of reactor and the high level liquid waste
cocktail is referred to as Leachate. is produced during reprocessing.
1. Short-term testing which takes 2-90 days Some of this deadly waste, stored in tanks, is mixed
In the past, landfill sites operated a dilute and depending on the device. with a hot glass material and solidified, with the
disperse approach were the passage of Leachate 2. Long-term testing which take more than 90 resulting glass logs also being classified as HLW.
through the bedrock led to progressive reduction in days. Intermediate Level Waste consists of metal fuel cans
Leachate concentration and natural purification. which contained the uranium fuel. It has to be shielded
This was dangerous because it contaminated rivers It is recommended that people have the short-term to protect workers and the public from exposure during
and water resources because the water-bearing strata testing first, and of they discover high levels to have a transport and disposal.
could allow rapid transfer of pollution plumes through long-term testing conducted. Low Level Waste can be defined as waste that does
the groundwater system. not require shielding during normal handling and
Radioactive Waste: transportation. Consists of items such as protective
Regulations now state that landfill sites need to be Radioactive waste produced from the fission clothing and laboratory equipment which may have
lined with an impermeable artificial liner or clay layer. reaction in nuclear power stations pose special come into contact with radioactive material.
These sites are contained and treat strategies. problems because it contains radioactive isotopes
The waste is deposited within cells, to ensure that the that are not usually present in our environment.
surface area exposed to rainfall is kept as low as
possible they are lined with impermeable clay to


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