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  • Both Congress JOINT COMMITTEE PRINT lot session I

    INDUSTRIAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL

    SUMMARY-ANALYSIS OF HEARINGS JANUARY 28, 29, 80, FEBRUARY 2, 8, AND

    JULY 29, 1959

    JOINT COMMITTEE ON ATOMIC ENERGY CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

    AUGUST 1959

    Printed for the use of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy

    UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFICO

    0WASHINGTON : 1959

    ý016

  • . JOINT COMMITTEE ON ATOMIC ENERGY OLINTON P. ANDIR8ON, New [email protected], C~dm

    CARL T. DURUAM, North Qaoitbn, Via Cleko RICHARD B. RUBULL. OeoriA ( OUST HOLIFIRLD, OHlfobra *OHN 0. PASTORS* Rhode Wand & MILVIN PRIOR, minlen ALBIRT GORE, Tummoee ' W&YNE N. ASPINALIA Colorado XIUNRY IM, AO[80IN, Washinton I 'III ALBERT ThOMAS, Tea ROURK2 9. HIOKRNLOOP2Rs Ioan " •TAMRS 3. VAN ZANDT, P-uAaIvaula RUNRY 0. DWOROIIAZ, Idaho CRAIO IOSMlR, Californla GEORGE D., AIKEN, Vrmoat WILLIAM A. DATEl, Maua&hUwltt WALLAOC P. BENNITT, Utah 1ACK WSSTLAND, Washintoa

    :ANNa, it•oUN oWNWN Rkfth o

    SPECIAL SUBCOMFlDN ON RADIATION COUST HOLIFIZ1,D, Ca~lfrnia, Cktraw

    USELVIN PRICE, Minob, AMM IS R. VAN SAND,? PmeylWmla

    CRAIG0 HOSMERP, Oalifrni,

    JOHN 0. PASTOR, Rhode hdem HXNRY M. $AOKSON, Washinton BOURKRC B. HIOKEBNLOOPBR, lows ,OORGE D. AIKIN, Vermont

    CLINTON P. ANDERSON, New Mido0o (a aofid) CARL T. DURHAM, North Caolina (for*e)

    Dr. WA"No RopoImn TWbeAakl4lr II

    '4.

    I .4

    'I-.W I.

    - '~ -~ 'I

    1; V

    'IV I"-,11-111 .",

  • CONTENTS

    pan. u ary and conclions . .......... I

    Nature of wsates --------- 1 ---------- 6 Miniig ........... n-.................... ...... ..g... 9M1ll111 ..1 .. . .......... ....... f.- ft .. . . . . ... ; .. ;.. 1- 9 Feed m aterials a0rt ios ........... (. ;.-•R., 1...... •.. 0 Diffusion l~n operations-• ' 10

    Fu,... ...ent nan......... .e 0 Reactor o ation ----- -...-- ..... .... 10 Chemical Mes•lug. "Z . ..... ...... . .... .• . 1 Research peratione. ( -.--- , . . . 13 Isotope tribution - .. ..... 13

    W waste ana me t ......... . .... .- - -- - - Reacto ................... ........ . .... .......... 14

    Ha ford production reat .- ..... . ....... .-......... 14 Shi pin -r- ... .... . . .. .. . ........ 14

    Na al rotors ....... ) 18 Fuel rep esing.. ........ - .............

    Han ord ....... ........ .. ...... 1l Saval nah River ...... . ...... 22 Jdah Chemical ar.ssing. ....... 23

    Research atlvltiooq.... •. .... ........ .,•,. ..... ,. ...... . ....... 2 4 Reweareh and elopment program .* .... ...... ... go .. . 24

    Low-level wates ......... ..-...... ..... ............. . 28 Diecharg*i surfa.. watpywa... 25D h i i----------ays-... ......- -- --........... . 26Ground dis I ......... Z'•- .. .I,. ................. 2z .. 6 Ocean and •tarial disposal ........................ ...... 28 Meteorological'Kudies ........................... -- 29 Air cleaning. --- ------------...........- ----------- 0

    lih-hvel waste--..... ................. .---- -------- 0 Converalon to solids .... . -,,- - --. .........-....... 80 Direct dpoal ........................................... 31 Separation of speciflo fission products for Industrial utilization... 33

    Etntinm.•o of the future problem .............-....................... - 34 Industrial point of view ............................................ 38 Activities of Federal, State, and international agencies ................. 38

    U.8. Publie Health Service ..................................... 38 U.S. Atomic Energy Commission . ...----------------- 39 State health departmeut...-........ ................... . 39 International actlvltle ...................... - ....-...-........... 40

    TABLES Nature of wastes:

    Table 1. Naturally occurring radionuclides ....... .... 6 Table 2. Principal fission products of interest in waste-disposal

    aovRtIons .......................................... 7 Table.& Coolant and impurity activation products ................ 9

    Waste manaement: Table 4. Measured activities of coolant from U.S. naval nuclear-

    powered ips ....................................... 18 Table I. General Information on w te-storage tanks at Hanford .... 21 Table 6. Concentration of significant radioisotopes in the liquid waste T, - I. .,rom Irradiated uranium-----------------------22 , Table 7., gh~level-waste4torage tanks at Savannah River plant... 23

  • CONTENTS

    TABLES-Continued

    Research and development program: Pan Table 8. Isotopes concentrated significantly by Columbia River fish.. 26 Table 9. Hydrological and geological factors of ground disposal at

    various AEC sites ........................ 27 Table 10. Comparative amount of fission products In waste from the

    reprocessing of Irradiated fuels -------------------- 4

    FIGURES Nature of wastes:

    Figure 1. Schematic flowsheet for origin of wastes-nuclear fuel cycle. 8 Waste management:

    Figure 2. Water flow through a typical reactor area --------------- 15 Figure 3. Isotopic composition of reactor effluent 4 hours and 24 hours

    after irradiation ------------------------------------ 16 Figure 4. Radioactive waste-disposal facilities, Shippingport Atomic

    Power Station -------------------------------- 17 Figure 5. Typical high-level-%aste-storage tank ------------------- 20

    Research and development program: Figure 6. Location of salt deposits in the United States ------------ 32

    Estimates of the future program: Figure 7. Predicted power growth and fuel reprocessing capacity .... 35 Figure 8. Accumulated volume of high and intermediate level waste

    stored -------------------------------------------- 36 Figure 9. Allowable waste-disposal cost as a function of burnup and

    process waste volume --------------------------- 37

    IV

  • INTRODUCTION

    During late January and early February 1959 the Special Sub- committee on Radiation of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy held 5 days of public hearings on "Industrial Radio- active Waste-Disposal." These hearings were designed as a followup to the hearings on "The Nature of Radioactive Fallout and Its Effects on Man," held 2 years ago by the same subcommittee. It was the intent of the hearing to emphasize the technical aspects of the waste- disposal problems and to determine whether the present scale of re- search and development is adequate to meet the coming needs.

    The hearings covered in detail the nature of wastes, waste-manage- ment operations, the various research and development programs, esti- mates of the future magnitude and economics of waste disposal and concluded with a discussion of the activities of various Federal, State, and international agencies in the regulation of disposal of wastes. Thirty-three scientists and engineers covering the entire spectrum of scientific disciplines interested in the problem presented oral testi- mony and approximately 50 papers were received for the record. Selected papers from the Second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva, 1958, are also included in the record. All sessions were open to the public.

    On July 29, 1959, the special subcommittee held an additional hearing on the specific subject of disposal of low-level radioactive wastes into the ocean.

    The written record of the hearings represents the most comprehen- sive collection of technical information on the subject that has been compiled. The nature of the problem was characterized and the data submitted on the operation of the various systems in use were exten- sive. The research and development program was thoroughly re- viewed as were the economic aspects and theprobable growth of the problem. Each of these subjects is summarized briefly in this report.

    V

  • I

  • SUMMARY-ANALYSIS OF HEARINGS

    INDUSTRIAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL

    OUMMARY AND CONCLUsIoNs

    1. The management or disposal of radioactive wastes from the nuclear ener, industry is not a single problem with a single solution. It vanes wdely, depending on the specific nature, concentration, and quantity of radioactive materials involved, and on the specific environ- ment in which it must be considered. In the nuclear fuel cycle, wastes are produced at each step: from the mining of ore, the produc- tion of fuel elements, the operation of reactors, the chemical-reprocess- ing of fuels, and from the research activities associated with each of these steps. The wide variety of wastes encountered can be cate- gorized into two classes which, if not sharply delineated, at least do have major differences in their nature in their volume in their hazard, and in their control: "low levef" and "high levei" wastes.

    "Low-level wastes" were defined during the hearings as those having a radioactivity concentration in the rang of one microcurie per gallon.' Byway of contrast, some "high-level wastes" have con- centrations of hundreds or thousands of curios per gallon-and thus can be more than a million times more concentrated than "low-level wastes." In terms of volumes of wastes generated billions of gallons of low-level wastes are produced each year (which are treated and dispersed as described below), whereas the volume of high-level wastes produced is much more limited. Since the beginning of the atomic program, 65 million gallons of high-level wastes have ac- cumulated, all contained in underground tank storage as described in rragraph 4 below.

    •.Acording to the best judgment of the scientific experts who testified during the hearings, radioactive waste management and dis-