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Decontamination of Undeground Nuclear Cavity Solutes


Developing the Methods of Radioactive Decontamination of Underground Nuclear Cavity Aqueous Solutes in Salt Rock

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Conversion Enterprise "KK Interconnect", Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • Kazakh National Technical University, Kazakstan, Almaty\nNational Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakstan / Institute of Atomic Energy (1), Kazakstan, Almaty


  • Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) / West, USA, ID, Idaho Falls\nLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore

Project summary

Goal of the Project - developing the methods of radioactive decontamination of aqueous solutes in underground nuclear cavities laid in salt rock massifs with the help of natural sorbents and the techniques of radionuclide freezing-out.

Project background and its influence on progress in the sphere of investigation.

Emergency water-filled cavities laid in salt rock massifs in the Kazakhstan's territory are the source of radioactive and toxic contaminants. Due to the natural fluid regime of the Earth's bowl they are penetrating upper aquifers and ground surface that is inadmissible from the standpoint of ecology. Good many of methods to eliminate and neutralize negative consequences of underground cavities being resulted in the process of mining production are elaborated at present. But they are not applicable to solve the task to eliminate radioactive hazard of the above-mentioned nuclear cavities, for the method deal mainly with the processes to fill the cavities with hard matter and to pump out surplus water being a radioactive solute in that case. Its escape to day surface is undesirable. That is why, development of new methods to neutralize and eliminate underground cavities, relating the problems of intra-cavity fluid radioactive decontamination, seems to be reasonable now. They are, for example, the usage of cheap enough, mined on industrial scale natural sorbents or the cryogenic technique to convert radionuclide compounds to a non-migrating phase. This will enable to elaborate reasonable from the standpoint of economy, and practicable techniques to eliminate consequences of underground nuclear explosions and, in the long run, to recover the territories above the cavities estranged from economical activity.

Expected results:

– The most effective, radiative-resistant, mined on industrial scale types of natural sorbents to extract radionuclides from aqueous solutes in underground nuclear cavities will be selected according to the results of previous work, experimental investigations and literature sources. Besides, one will pay his attention to sorbing component of natural soils, amphibolic and chrysotile asbestos, their non-conditional sorts, tailings containing micro asbestos, bentonites and glauconites, micro muscovites, vermiculites, zeolites, shungites of Kazakhstan's deposit fields, spoil heaps.

– The scientifically well-founded technique of out- and intra-cavity extraction of radionuclides by natural sorbents with their subsequent burial in these cavities itself will be elaborated.

– The cryogenic technique to convert intra-cavity solute radionuclide compounds to a non-migrating solid phase by partial freezing of the solute and the technology of this state maintenance will be developed.

– Technical economical criteria of developed disactivation technique applicability will be worked out and the recommendations on practical application of the developed techniques will be issued, the list of unique equipment for instrumental provision of disactivation work will be composed.

Scientific and commercial significance of the Project.

Effective natural sorbing materials for radioactive decontamination of concentrated intra-cavity salt solutes will be found. In the case of the Project being put into practice, the corresponding development engineering having been done, the opportunity to recover the territories occupied by underground nuclear cavities and estranged at present from economical activity will arise.

Role of the Project in ISTC goal realization.

Enabling Kazakhstan's "gunsmith" scientists to reorient their abilities to peaceful activity; encouragement of NIS scientists integration into international scientific community; support of applied investigations and technology development with peaceful purpose, defence of the environments especially; assistance to solve some national technical problems in the sphere of nuclear security; supporting transition to market economy meeting the civil needs.

Scope of activity.

The work will start from reviewing patent, scientific and technical literature on the subject of investigations. This work will result in determining natural mineral sorbents being appreciated as the candidates to develop the technology of radioactive decontamination of aqueous solutes in underground nuclear cavities. The most worth-while sorbents will be experimentally studied to reveal their functional suitability to extract radionuclides from cavity solutes. The next stage of investigation will deal with development of radioactive decontamination methods by utilizing previously revealed worth-while sorbents and the processes of radionuclide compound cryogenic freezing-out.

The theoretical investigations on abstract simulating migration processes, chemical kinetics of binding, thermodynamics and other processes of radiocontaminant evolution in a nuclear cavity with the containing formation will precede the stage. Investigations on the Project will result in posing the main engineering problems to realise the proposed methods for intra-cavity solute radioactive decontamination, compiling the report on research work, publication oh the subject of investigation, applying for invention rights.

Role of foreign collaborators.

Consulting on scientific and technical problems. Random inspection of analytical investigations is possible.