Instrumenting for Eternity (Almost)

by John T. Prendergast, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 6, Pg. 52-55

Document Type: Feature article


Prendergast describes the safety features and instrumentation for a low level radioactive waste disposal facility planned for Illinois. Federal law requires that each state or group of states establish a site for disposal of low level radioactive wastes-generally defined as anything that isn't high level, such as spent fuel rods-produced within their borders by 1996. The Illinois facility has a design life totaling 560 years. The facility will be built above grade and features a series of engineered safety barriers combining reinforced concrete, reinforcing steel, high-density polyethylene liners and natural materials to prevent water infiltration. The waste will be stored in concrete containers called overpacks, then placed in a concrete storage vault. An earthen cap up to 10 ft thick will be placed over the vaults and an underdrain system installed below the vaults. Instrumentation includes a test cell to monitor concrete performance, water and moisture detection, electronic tracking of waste stored at the site, and environmental monitoring.

Subject Headings: Reinforced concrete | Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Safety | Instrumentation | Fuels | Reinforcing steel | Waste storage | Illinois | United States

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