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Development of nuclear criticality safety controls on intermediate-level waste packages

  • T. W. Hicks (a1), P. Wood (a2), D. Putley (a3) and T. D. Baldwin (a1)

Abstract

Intermediate-level wastes (ILW) include substantial quantities of fissile material and controls are required to ensure that its storage, transport and disposal does not present a nuclear criticality hazard. This paper describes the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate's research to develop package fissile material limits (in the form of screening levels) for four different categories of ILW, defined according to uranium or plutonium composition: (1) irradiated natural and slightly enriched uranium (uranium containing up to 1.9 wt.% 235U); (2) low-enriched uranium (uranium containing up to 4 wt.% 235U); (3) high-enriched uranium (uranium containing up to 100 wt.% 235U); and (4) separated plutonium (plutonium containing up to 100 wt.% 239Pu).

The derivation of package screening levels was supported by neutron transport calculations that addressed conditions during waste package transport to a geological disposal facility (GDF), during the GDF operational phase and after GDF closure. The analysis included consideration of combinations of events and processes that could result in fissile material accumulation and concentration after GDF closure, when waste packages have deteriorated sufficiently for fissile material to be mobilized. The results of the calculations have provided input to Radioactive Waste Management Directorate's decision making on setting waste package screening levels.

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Copyright

© [2012] The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

References

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Department for Environment Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Devolved Administration for Wales and Northern Ireland. (2008) Managing Radioactive Waste Safely: A Framework for Implementing Geological Disposal. DEFRA, London, 100 pp.
Environment Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (2009) Geological Disposal Facilities on Land for Solid Radioactive Wastes: Guidance on Requirements for Authorisation. Environment Agency, Bristol, UK and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Belfast, UK.
Hicks, T.W. (2007a) FEPs and Scenarios for Developing Criticality Screening Levels. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0465–2. Version 1.
Hicks, T.W. (2007b) Generic Waste Stream Definitions for Developing Criticality Screening Levels. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, Report 0465–1. Version 3.
Hicks, T.W. (2007c) Criticality Safety Assessment for Waste Packages Containing Irradiated Natural Uranium. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0560–1. Version 1.1.
Hicks, T.W. (2007d) Criticality Safety Assessment for Waste Packages Containing Low-enriched Uranium. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0465–4. Version 2.
Hicks, T.W. (2007e) Criticality Safety Assessment for Waste Packages Containing High-enriched Uranium. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0560–3. Version 1.
Hicks, T.W. (2007f) Criticality Safety Assessment for Waste Packages Containing Separated Plutonium. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0560–2. Version 1.1.
Hicks, T.W. (2009) The General Criticality Safety Assessment. Galson Sciences Limited Report to NDA RWMD, 0914–1. Version 1.1.
Hicks, T.W. Baldwin, T.D., Putley, D. and Wood, P. (2011) Development of Fissile Material Limits for ILW Disposal Packages. International Conference on Nuclear Criticality, Edinburgh, 19–22.September 2011.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (2010a) Geological Disposal, Criticality Safety Status Report. NDA Report NDA/RWMD/038.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (2010b) Geological Disposal, Near-field Evolution Status Report. NDA Report NDA/RWMD/033.

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