Safe disposal of Radioactive waste investigation
Author: Peter Ledingham (Managing Director & Geothermal Engineer)
GeoScience to assist American partners determine the viability of deep borehole disposal of radioactive waste
A consortium led by RESPEC, based in South Dakota, which includes the South Dakota School of Mines, ARUP and GeoScience Limited has been awarded a contract by the US Department of Energy to investigate the technical aspects of drilling and testing deep, large diameter boreholes in crystalline rocks for the safe disposal of radioactive wastes.
In the 1990s GeoScience played a significant part in the design, drilling and testing of more than 20 deep boreholes as part of UK Nirex’s site investigations at Sellafield and Dounreay. This programme required the integration of deep drilling techniques with high precision geophysical, hydrogeological and geochemical measurements. It was because of this experience that GeoScience was invited to join the RESPEC consortium.
The first phase of the project is to obtain the necessary approvals and secure public support for the drilling of a 5,000m deep characterisation borehole in Haakon County, South Dakota. If the site is chosen to proceed to the next phase, GeoScience will provide drilling and testing advice to the consortium during design, planning and execution phases. The characterisation borehole will be used both to investigate the site and to investigate appropriate techniques that might be applied in the future completion of a full-scale test borehole.