Nuclear Waste Bunker to Last 100,000 Years in Finland

The waste that comes into existence due to our energy consumption has always been an issue.  This does not even include the other types of waste that we create in our day to day lives. An example may be all those leftovers in the fridge that keep piling up until no more can possibly be crammed in. Where does it finally end up? Why the trash of course!  There are different ways that trash is disposed of.  There are compost piles, recycling, as well as trash being simply disposed of in a landfill.  Unfortunately, many landfills are not built securely enough to keep wastes from leeching into the ground.  Sometimes there are not even any barriers that are put in place to prevent hazardous wastes from going into the ground.  This means that they are getting into water supplies and food grown which directly effects not only our health but the ecosystems around us.

This leads into an article I read recently about Finland building a nuclear waste bunker.  Nuclear waste disposal is a big problem in today’s society but is slowly trying to be solved. The creation of this bunker began in the 1970’s and is expected to be decommissioned by the 2100s.  The site is located in Olkiluoto, about 185 miles from Helsinki, Finland.  The construction of the site is further ahead of its time then anywhere else. What is fascinating about the site is the construction itself.  The bunker is supposed to be 3 miles long in a spiraling fashion and reach a depth of at least 5oo meters. The waste will be stored behind multiple layers including the Finnish bedrock and the rest behind steel and concrete.  Also, the waste will be placed in corrosion-resistant copper containers that have 5 centimeter thick walls.  Finally, the canisters will be placed in bentonite clay.  We actually briefly discussed this type of clay in class.  When the clay interacts with water it expands. The idea behind its use in the bunker is that it will prevent liquid pooling as well as create a buffer against any geologic movement for the canisters.  The final cost will be around $4.1 billion dollars.  One issue for the developers is how to stop people from entering the bunker when all knowledge has been lost of it thousands of years from now.  One idea is to create something like hieroglyphics that could act as a warning.  It is a real issue that we have never really experienced before because it is on a timescale we have never used.  How do we stop future generations from digging is a serious question that needs to be confronted.

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