Behaviour of Radionuclides and Environmentally Significant Elements in Nuclear Fuel Element Debris (FED)
There is estimated to be 1055 Tonnes of Magnox fuel element debris (FED) held in wet and/or dry storage vaults across the Magnox reactor fleet. The challenge for Magnox Ltd is to dispose of this Intermediate Level Waste waste in a safe, environmentally acceptable manner by 2025. To achieve this Magnox has explored the dissolution of FED waste in nitric acid, where the radionuclide and associated heavy metal contamination is removed and concentrated by precipitation and/or adsorption on nuclide specific ion-exchange media. The effect of pH and use of flocculation agents on the efficacy of the abatement process was assessed by radiochemical and elemental analysis of the FED dissolution liquors pre and post abatement. This paper reports the result of that study, namely the Decontamination Factors (% Abatement) for key gamma, beta and alpha (actinides) emitting radionuclides, including the behaviour of several heavy metals of environmental concern (i.e., Mg, Ca, S, Sr, B, Al, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Zr, Ag, Cd, Si, and Pb).