Category Archives: Nuclear Power and the Environment

Highly Enriched Uranium

Specialised reactors, primarily used for research or marine propulsion, use highly enriched uranium (HEU), which contains >20% 235U, as fuel. This presents particular proliferation risks since the fuel contains weapons-usable uranium and, over the last 20 years, considerable efforts have been made to remove HEU from research reactors and to reconfigure them to use lower enriched fuel. HEU fuels typically […]

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Depleted Uranium

Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) is an issue covering several sites worldwide. The properties of DU, such as its high density (19.05 gcm~3) and penetrating strength, have led to its use in a number of civil and military applications including munitions. Such munitions have been used in a number of conflicts over the past few decades with a summary provided […]

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Pathways of Radioactive Substances in the Environment

JOANNA C. RENSHAW,* STEPHANIE HANDLEY-SIDHU AND DIANA R. BROOKSHAW ABSTRACT The release and transport of radionuclides in the environment is a subject of great public concern. The primary sources of radionuclides in the environment are nuclear weapons testing and production, and the pro­cesses associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. Whilst nuclear weapons tests have been the main source of atmospheric […]

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The Scientific Framework for the Protection of Humans

The scientific framework that has evolved for the protection of humans from ionizing radiation is based on a number of related features, including the use of reference anatomical and physiological models for the assessment of radiation doses from external and internal sources; studies of radiation effects at the molecular and cellular level; a large range of experimental animal studies; plus […]

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Nuclear Power and the Environment

RSC Publishing It is often forgotten that the human species has evolved in an environment surrounded by natural sources of radioactivity. These sources are as diverse as cosmic ray particles from space, potassium-40 in igneous rocks and the radioactive decay products of radon, a gas emanating from the land beneath our feet. Indeed, for many people, the so-called ‘‘radon daughters’’ […]

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Colloidal Transport

Colloids are particles that are < 1 pm in at least one dimension, and with a high surface area, that remain suspended in the water column.135,136 Colloids con­taining radionuclides can form either through condensation of particular radionuclide species by a hydrolytic or precipitation process, degradation of nuclear waste (intrinsic colloids), or through sorption of radionuclides onto colloids of other (inorganic […]

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Nuclear Waste Disposal and Decommissioning Nuclear Plants

Radioactive waste is created at all points in the nuclear fuel cycle: from ura­nium mining, fuel enrichment and discharges from plants, to the highly radioactive waste resulting from reprocessing spent fuel and decommissioning contaminated sites.130 The disposal of radioactive waste is one of the most difficult problems currently facing the nuclear power industry. High level waste and spent fuel disposal […]

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Conclusions

Insofar as the four accidents can be categorised, there is a clear dividing line between the circumstances leading to the early accidents at military facilities (Kyshtym and Windscale) and the later civilian nuclear power plant accidents (TMI and Chernobyl). In his review of Windscale and Kyshtym, Jones2 iden­tified the common factors in these accidents:

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