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Let the earth suck up nuclear waste

Disposing of nuclear waste by tectonic subduction zone
 
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What to do with nuclear waste?

Presently the options for disposing of radioactive nuclear waste are:

Dump it -or- Convert it to something less harmfull, seal it up and dump it.

While every now and then we hear of some new method of disposal, the fact remains the bulk of it is still just dumped.

Much of it is dumped in boreholes and underground caverns dug into mountains, some is dumped at sea, and who can speculate where the rest of it is dumped illegally.

Radioactive waste can be sealed in canisters or turned into a kind of glass, but these have to last for hundreds and thousands of years, which could be a future enviromental hazard.

Firing it into space or putting it back in the earths mantle might be the two ideal options, but the cost is not worth it.

So here I propose my idea. Bury the waste in tough canisters in a active ocean trench, where over time subduction of a tectonic plate will carry the radioactive material back into the earths mantle. The material, no doubt being denser than the crust and mantle will sink towards the earths core, or at very least be heavily diluted. At the bottom a deep sea trench a radioactive waste package need only stay intact long enough to be buried by the progression of landslides from the continental face and carried under by the movement of the crust.

Unfortunatley the radioactive material might be resurface through volcanos, or through groundwater back into the ocean. Selecting an appropriate site would be a challenge.

Thus the idea is half baked.

venomx, Jul 11 2004

Calderal Garbage Dumps http://www.halfbake...l_20Garbage_20Dumps
Same vein (if you will). [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Highway to Hell http://www.halfbake...Highway_20to_20Hell
Same idea (if you won't). [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Lava flow nuclear waste disposal http://www.halfbake..._20waste_20disposal
And again. [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       A widely discussed idea, even outside of the confines of the Halfbakery.
DrCurry, Jul 11 2004
  

       Preheated, David Brin, "The Uplift Wars".
normzone, Jul 11 2004
  

       yep, discussed plenty of times via the postings that [phoenix] has linked. I know that the idea itself has not been the subject of an idea, but this has been raised via annotation.   

       As [DrC] points out, it has been discussed in scientific press too.
jonthegeologist, Jul 12 2004
  

       Surely subduction would take about as long as the radioactive half-life? They're both pretty slow.
wagster, Mar 02 2007
  

       Insulter! if you did this, you would not put liquid waste in champagne bottles - nay, nor stainless steel drums. You would create a solid glass block incorporating the waste.
bungston, Mar 02 2007
  

       Why not just put the stuff safely into solar orbit?
quantum_flux, Mar 02 2007
  

       Yeah, you can get around the bursting problem easily but tectonic movement takes around the time of the longest half-lives iirc. Can't be bothered to verify right now, but I might check to see if I'm right.
wagster, Mar 02 2007
  
      
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