The protection against corrosion offered by copper canisters encasing nuclear waste has been called into question.
Dr Peter Szakalos of the KTH Royal Institute, a Swedish chemical science and engineering school, said: “There are problems. The knowledge scientists have now show that what was put in to practice 30 years ago is void.”
Speaking at a nuclear waste conference in London this week, Dr Szakalos stated that copper corrosion was a “well known industrial problem” and that independent research was needed to prevent future problems.
His research on the effects of increased temperature (due to the radiation) and the chemical environment has established that the 5cm casing of canisters will corrode much quicker than originally expected.
Dr Szakalos’ research includes finding alternative solutions to dealing with nuclear waste, such as deep borehole disposal. The UK does not have any high-level, deep geological facilities and the Swedish model is being used for research currently taking place.