A New Nuclear Waste Solution: Use It for Fracking?

Team proposes pumping it into, essentially, the center of the Earth
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2013 3:25 PM CST
In this 2004 file photo, workers at the tank farms on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash., measure for radiation and the presence of toxic vapors.   (AP Photo/Jackie Johnston, File)

(Newser) – In a story seemingly designed to make a certain kind of environmentalist reach for a drink, researchers this week proposed a new solution for storing nuclear waste: using it as fracking fluid. The idea is that because nuclear waste is heavier than the rock you'd be shooting it into, it would sink, charting an unerring path toward the Earth's core, and never bothering humanity again. "It's basic physics here," the study's co-author said, according to LiveScience. "If it's heavier than the rock, the fracture will propagate down."

The authors say the principle is well established in lab testing, and they're already working on (non-radioactive) field tests. But there are many looming concerns. For one thing, it'll be nigh impossible to inspect the geology of the rock a few miles down, and because the waste will be radioactive for more than 100,000 years, proving it'll be safe for, say, 10,000 years won't cut it. Worker safety is another issue. "You really don't want to be close to this material," one expert says. (Read more fracking stories.)

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