Om Chemical Pretreatment of Nuclear Waste f
Chemical pretreatment of nuclear wastes refers to the sequence of separations processes used to partition such wastes into a small volume of high-level waste for deep geologic disposal and a larger volume of low-level waste for disposal in a near-surface facility. Pretreatment of nuclear wastes now stored at several U. S. Department of Energy sites ranges from simple solid-liquid separations to more complex chemical steps, such as dissolution of sludges and removal of selected radionuclides, e. g. , 90Sr, 99Tc, 137CS, and TRU (transuranium) elements. The driving force for development of chemical pretreatment processes for nuclear wastes is the economic advantage of waste minimization as reflected in lower costs for near-surface disposal compared to the high cost of disposing of wastes in a deep geologic repository. This latter theme is expertly and authoritatively discussed in the introductory paper by J. and L. Bell. Seven papers in this volume describe several separations processes developed or being developed to pretreat the large volume of nuclear wastes stored at the US DOE Hanford and Savannah River sites. These papers include descriptions of the type and amount of important nuclear wastes stored at the Hanford and Savannah River sites as well as presently envisioned strategies for their treatment and final disposal. A paper by Strachan et al. discusses chemical and radiolytic mechanisms for the formation and release of potentially explosive hydrogen gas in Tank 241-SY-101 at the Hanford site.