Around the world, nuclear energy and defense programs have generated thousands of tons of spent fuel and other radioactive wastes. As a result, many national and state governments have initiated large-scale programs to develop ways of safely isolating these wastes for the many thousands of years that they will remain hazardous. For most spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes (HLW), the international consensus is that deep geologic disposal using multiple engineered and natural barriers represents the safest solution. For intermediate- and low-level radioactive wastes (ILW and LLW), including “legacy wastes” from former defense programs, disposal in near-surface engineered systems has proven to be a viable disposal method. INTERA’s quantitative geoscience and engineering expertise is well-suited to helping ensure the safe disposal of radioactive and hazardous wastes. In the mid-1970s, we developed the first groundwater code to couple flow, energy, and contaminant transport in three dimensions. For Sandia National Laboratories, INTERA subsequently modified this code to simulate radionuclide transport, and we used it to evaluate conceptual radioactive waste repositories in a variety of rock types. This project marked INTERA’s entry into the field of geologic disposal of radioactive wastes.
Since this first project, INTERA’s radioactive waste isolation services have expanded to encompass geological, hydrogeological and geochemical site characterization, including comprehensive hydraulic and tracer testing programs, modeling and quantification of the near- and far-field processes that affect repository performance, and total system (waste package, engineered barriers, geosphere, and biosphere) performance and safety assessments for proposed or existing storage/disposal facilities. Working with national agencies responsible for radioactive waste disposal programs, federal and state regulatory agencies, and the commercial nuclear power and waste management industries, INTERA has supported near-surface and deep geological disposal projects to address all types of radioactive wastes (i.e., LLW, ILW, and HLW). We have been a key contributor to radioactive waste disposal projects around the world, and have provided long-term support for radioactive waste disposal programs in the United States and Canada, many of the programs in Europe (Belgium, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom), and several in Asia (China, Japan, Korea). We also apply our radioactive waste isolation expertise in support of environmental restoration activities at former nuclear production and testing facilities and the closure of uranium mine sites.
To learn more about INTERA’s radioactive waste services, click on any of the links below.