Preface

This book examines the extensive international experience of the manage­ment of radioactive wastes. Part I introduces in nine chapters the back­ground to, and principles of, radioactive waste (RAW) management and contaminated site clean-up including waste types and sources of contamina­tion, along with processes and technologies for decommissioning, decon­tamination and immobilisation as well as consideration of international safety standards. Part II, the bulk of the book, contains 15 chapters sum­marising the current status of management and clean-up in countries from across the world including a separate chapter covering the Fukushima inci­dent of March 2011. While we endeavoured to cover the whole planet, we were unable to find authors from all countries who were available in the timescale required and so, for example, India is a regrettable omission. Nonetheless, the book presents a thorough and clear view of the interna­tional state of play in this area, which is so crucial for the environment and the future of civil nuclear power which it seems can never be separated from politics and the always appropriate but sometimes ill-informed con­cerns of the public over safety. Thus, for example, England and Wales are covered in a separate chapter from Scotland, whose government has chosen a different path for the management of its wastes. Part III, comprising just three chapters, covers clean-up of sites contaminated by weapons pro­grammes in the USA and the former USSR. Undoubtedly there are others but either we are unaware of them or no-one was willing to provide infor­mation about them. While the nuclear community recognises the need for openness and transparency, particularly in the civil nuclear sector, this does not yet, understandably, always fully extend to the military.

Editing a book of this size is an enormous undertaking but it does give the editors an excellent overview and the opportunity to detect key themes in the field. Those which have emerged for us include the importance of developing new waste forms for some of the difficult wastes which to date have been left in the ‘too difficult for now, leave until later’ category. Plutonium (Pu), iodine (I) and technecium (Tc) are radionuclides which are difficult to incorporate into stable solids and some wastes are ill-defined

so that creativity as well as scientific soundness and engineering pragmatism are needed when developing waste forms to immobilise them. Chapter 6 highlights key new waste form developments using room temperature (non­thermal) and thermal techniques, in particular for production of glass com­posite materials (GCMs).

Safety is obviously the most important concern when dealing with radio­activity and the need for international agreements and collaborations is crucial, as described in Chapter 3. Underpinning safety, and our understand­ing of the future behaviour and stability of waste forms, temporary stores and permanent geological disposal facilities, and the transportation mecha­nisms of radionuclides in the biosphere, is a swathe of computer modelling and performance assessment codes. Developments in theory and simulation and modelling are having significant impact in all areas of technology, and RAW management, with its enormous scales of size, time and complexity, will undoubtedly benefit from these developments.

The book is intended as an introductory overview for post-graduate students and researchers in this field but will also be useful for undergradu­ates studying physics, chemistry, materials, geography, geology, and environ­mental or other engineering disciplines with an interest in the welfare of the planet. It will also be a valuable resource for training programmes in new nuclear countries. Inevitable in an edited book with many interna­tional authors there are differences of style and approach. There is some repetition between chapters but we believe this is tolerable in order for each to remain as a stand alone resource. We asked each author to include a map of their region to give a better understanding of the geography and to indicate further sources of information for the interested reader. We acknowledge the enormous efforts made by the authors of each chapter and also the team at Woodhead Publishing for their help and support over the three years it has taken to put this book together.

Professor William (Bill) Lee Professor Michael Ojovan Dr Carol M. Jantzen

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