RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL OPERATION INTO THE ATLANTIC 1967

The development and increasing use of nuclear energy for the generation of electric power, as well as the expanding applications of radioisotopes in research, industry and medicine, are unavoidably associated with the production of growing amounts of radioactive wastes. The handling, treatment and ultimate disposal of these wastes present special problems, particularly difficult in the case of the large quantities of relatively low activity solid wastes which result from nuclear research and development programmes and from the processing of nuclear fuel. A suitable solution for some types of solid waste is by disposal, under carefully controlled conditions, into selected areas of the deep oceans. However, such operations raise international administrative and political, as well as scientific, technological and economic questions. To deal with these an experimental international operation was carried out in the summer of 1967 under the aegis of the European Nuclear Energy Agency (ENEA). Five member countries of ENEA took part in the operation, and some 11,000 tonnes of solid waste, with a total activity of approximately 8,000 Curies, were deposited at a depth of 5,000 metres in the eastern Atlantic Ocean during five separate voyages. The purpose of this operation was to establish on an international basis the means by which solid radioactive wastes could be safely disposed of at sea and without damage to the marine environment. The thoroughness of the preparations and the rigorous supervision applied to the actual operation testify to the care with which the task was approached. Nothing was left to chance: when assumptions had to be made, they always erred considerably on the side of caution. Another purpose of the operation, which was equally successful, was to evolve co-operatively the operational techniques necessary for achieving safety combined with expeditious procedures and reasonable economy. Much valuable experience has been gained in the five participating countreis and, to the extent that this was practicable, other interested countries have gained a useful insight into the practical problems involved. A solid foundation has been laid for future similar operations by countries having a solid waste disposal problem. This report describes the planning and carring out of the operation.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

    2001 L Street, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20036
  • Publication Date: 1967-7

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 73 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00032640
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 21 1972 12:00AM