Robert Jacobs (Professor)
To research the current state of proposed and in-construction deep underground long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel from reactors in Spent Fuel Repositories (SFRs). Among the more serious dilemmas posed to the long-term health of human communities and the ecosystem from nuclear technologies is the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants used either for electricity or for plutonium production for nuclear weapons. Currently millions of tons of spent nuclear fuel rods are awaiting long-term storage around the world. These spent fuel rods will remain toxic for periods ranging from 100,000 years to 1,000,000 years.
This project consisted of onsite visits to the SFR research center at Forsmark, Sweden and the Onkalo site in Finland (located in the Olkiluoto Nuclear Plant site) that is near completion of construction of the first fully functioning SFR, and which will be operational in 2020. The time at the Swedish facility included visits to the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory where research is conducted on future construction of SFRs, and the Canister Laboratory where canisters for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel rods are developed.
2. Paper Title
The visible and the invisible when considering Northern European permanent spent nuclear fuel storage
3. Project Details and Research Outcome
I carried out this research in October of 2017 for one week each in Sweden and Finland. At each site, I took guided tours that included descent into the half kilometer deep SFRs with extensive examination of the methods and theory of spent fuel deposit. Additionally, I engaged detailed conversations with scientists, engineers and planners around the concept of nuclear markers, or, how the presence and nature of the buried waste, as well as the proper behavior of future humans, could successfully be communicated to generations that would live thousands of years in the future. During the visit in Finland I also took an extensive tour of the third Olkiluoto nuclear power plant that is currently under construction.
Following additional research an article was written that was accepted for publication in the Hiroshima Peace Research Journal in the next upcoming issue to be published in 2018. Additionally, the article is being expanded into a book chapter for the monograph, Nuclear bodies: The radioactive decay of self, community and planet, currently under preparation.