Abstract

A case is presented for reconsidering deep borehole disposal for high‐level radioactive waste (HLW) in the light of recent discoveries about the hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry of the continental crust. A new multi‐barrier concept is proposed for very deep, elevated‐temperature disposal of vitrified HLW, spent fuel and ex‐military and other fissile materials which involves melting and recrystallization of a granitic host rock utilizing the heat from the waste. This scheme is fundamentally different from previously proposed borehole disposal scenarios in its key aspects, particularly in utilizing only partial melting and a surviving container. The perceived advantages of the scheme are discussed, in general and in relation to previous deep disposal ideas, particularly from the standpoint of safety. It is concluded that the scheme offers a potentially safer and environmentally more acceptable option for the permanent disposal of high‐level waste.

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