1. Cool it
At the San Onofre nuclear power plant, staff switch 2,668 gasoline assemblies—keeping 1,109 metric lots of radioactive uranium-235—to 17-foot-tall stainless-metallic bins. These take a seat within a deep, steel-lined cooling pool for a number of years, chilling at temperatures round 68 levels Fahrenheit, till staff can transfer them to garage.
2. Entomb it
After the gasoline cools, staff have compatibility the canisters into 20-foot-deep concrete casks embedded in the floor. The concrete is helping lure the gasoline’s radiation within, whilst vents flow into air to stay it cool. These casks, which might be monitored and protected round the clock, are robust sufficient to resist earthquakes, tsunamis, even the have an effect on of a jet crash.
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three. Rip it
Remotely managed gear reduce up the extremely infected apparatus (lower than .04 p.c of the particles). Other robot machines will take away the maximum tainted waste. Then staff—the use of hydraulic hammers, saws, and bulldozers—rip aside the constructions. Mundane administrative center fabrics like shelving, furnishings, and insulation fill out the junk pile.
four. Ship it
Demolition produces greater than 25 million cubic ft of particles—rebar, concrete, and piping—sufficient to fill a decent-size college-soccer stadium. The San Onofre web site hosts as much as 60 rail automobiles at a time, ready to cart off the low-level radiation particles. Trucks haul the nontainted stuff—75 p.c of the general—to landfills in Texas and Arizona.
five. Bury it
Freight automobiles elevate the low-level radioactive particles—now packed in drums, baggage, and massive bins—to a nuclear-waste landfill in the Utah barren region. Workers there test and file radiation ranges, then bury the stuff in “embankments,” from eight ft beneath grade to 38 ft above grade, in sedimentary rock and coated in clay and rock.
This article used to be initially revealed in the January/February 2018 Power factor of Popular Science.