The Radioactive Waste Incineration Process

The appropriate handling and disposal of radioactive waste are essential to preserving the safety of our environment and our people. Various ways of disposal of radioactive waste include near-surface waste, deep geological disposal, recycling and mining. 

We concentrate on incineration in this blog. Radioactive waste burning was one of this decade’s big news stories. 

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co) has built a three-story incineration facility following the permanent damage caused by the Earthquake In Japan and the tsunami of March 2011 to reduce the massive volume of waste generated by the 7,000-person staff of the plant’s radiation suits, gloves and boots. 

A long-term problem has followed how and where to store more than 170,000 tons of ash produced from burned radioactive residues at Fukushima Daiichi, eased by the building in 2017 of a centralized disposal site.

How Does Incineration Work?

Incineration may be an efficient technique for the disposal of radioactive waste, although it does have certain inconveniences in managing and storing the generated ash. Incineration burns or oxidizes high-temperature wastes, producing ash, exhaust gases and heat. Waste is burned following the separation of non-combustible components in a specially designed kiln. 

High incinerator temperatures of up to 1,100 ° C and 2000 ° F reduce radioactive waste in heavier materials such as contaminated fabrics, wood, paper or plastic, sewage and animal waste. Controlled air, excessive air, rotary ovens, fluidized bed, vertical shaft and multiple hearts are common incinerators. The most popular incinerator design is Molten Glass, Microwave, Plasma Cyclonic, Molten Salt, or Electric Infrared.

Before release into the environment, gases and fumes produced by incineration should be treated and filtered. Federal laws establish limitations on the discharge of radioactive incinerators that burn radioactive waste.

The hazardous by-products and their overall toxicity remain unknown. But dioxin, which may build up in fatty tissues and make its way into the food chain, is one of the best-understood poisons. 

Special filters can reduce incineration toxins effectively, although some may still stay in the ash. The concentrated radionuclides in the ash may lead to “class B” wastes even if the wastes put into the incinerator were a “class A.” To reduce the danger of groundwater pollution, rigorous ash monitoring, processing, and nuclear waste storage are necessary.

Where and When Incineration Is Being Used

While incinerators and “autoclaves” are widely used worldwide, they are far less so in the United States owing to worries about their harmful emissions. 

According to the Health Ministry, ‘incineration equipment should be used to balance public health advantages of removing pathogens with the necessary technical criteria to ensure that the health effects of air or groundwater contamination from by-products are avoided.’

Low-level waste is usually compacted and burned before disposal in hospitals and other health care businesses, particularly in developing countries.