China plans to bury spent nuclear fuel deep underground

Over the next five years, China will build many new nuclear power plants, which will increase the share of energy generation from this type of activity by 40%. This is necessary both for the country’s economy and to reduce carbon pollution. But at the same time there is a growing problem of nuclear waste disposal, the volume of which in China will grow at an impressive rate. The solution may be to bury the waste at great depths.

A special laboratory will be built deep underground in the Gobi Desert to study the reliability and safety of storing nuclear waste at great depths. The lowest point of the experimental repository will lie 560 meters below the ground – it will be the deepest repository of radioactive waste in the world.

Note that we are talking about long-term storage and only highly radioactive materials, which mainly includes spent nuclear fuel. This type of radioactive waste, which today is considered non-recyclable, accounts for only 1% of radioactive waste. The other 99% is low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, such as personnel clothing, and medium-level radioactive waste, which includes reactor components. Low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is successfully disposed of and buried, including in underground repositories, while the storage of non-recyclable spent nuclear fuel has a temporary status worldwide.