First waste disposal at Korean repository

14 July 2015

The first waste has been placed within South Korea's underground low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (LLW/ILW) disposal facility at Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang province.

First waste disposal at Gyeongju - 460 (KORAD)
The first concrete disposal container is lowered into one of the facility's six silos
(Image: KORAD)

Sixteen drums of waste within a concrete disposal container were put within one of the facility's silos on 13 July, the Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD) announced today. The milestone marks the start of operations at Asia's first underground radioactive waste disposal facility.

KORAD said the operation to move the waste from the above-ground receipt and storage building to the underground silo took three hours to complete.

The storage building currently holds 5032 drums of LLW/ILW: 2536 drums from the Wolsong nuclear power plant, 1000 drums from the Hanul plant and 1496 from contaminated paved road in Seoul. KORAD said that, starting from next month, the facility plans to receive 4233 drums of waste from nuclear power plants, industries and hospitals.

Construction of the 1.56 trillion won ($1.5 billion) disposal facility was completed in June 2014, having started in early 2006. The first phase of the repository consists of six underground silos, each with a diameter of some 24 metres and located deeper than 80 metres below sea-level. This first phase can hold up to 100,000 barrels of radioactive waste. The South Korean nuclear regulator - the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission - gave approval last December for full operation to begin at the facility's first phase.

The building of a second phase of the repository, which will be near-surface, began in January 2012 and is expected to be completed by 2019. This will add capacity to store a further 125,000 drums of LLW/ILW. Ultimately, the facility will be used to dispose of a total of 800,000 barrels of waste.

Low-level waste is typically composed of, for example, clothes, filters, and equipment used routinely at nuclear sites. It is usually placed in drums that are then compacted. Intermediate-level waste contains, for example, resins, chemical sludges and metal fuel claddings which have higher levels of radioactivity and require shielding.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News