What are the causes of the problem?
The issue is the production of burnt-up nuclear fuel related to the operation of nuclear power-plants. The first ever commercial nuclear powerplant (Calder Hall in Great Britain) was first connected to the electric network on August 27, 1956. At the end of June 2014, 388 nuclear reactors were in operation in 31 countries around the world while 67 additional ones were under construction. It is imperative that burnt-up nuclear fuel be safely isolated from its surroundings so that its contact with people and environment is precluded. The used fuel is customarily stored under water for the first five years after having been produced. After its partial cooling it is then transferred into dry repository. Deep geological deposition and disposal are generally considered the best resolution to the final disposal for most of the produced radioactive waste. However, most of the general public in many countries remains skeptical about the safety, technological feasibility and environmental friendliness of the geologic disposal mechanism despite the consensus between many experts. One of the challenges faced by the advocates of such efforts is to prove in a trustworthy manner that the deposition site will contain the waste for enough time so that any leak that could occur in the future does not represent a significant health or environmental risk.
In the Czech Republic, the issues of the deposition of burnt-up nuclear waste fall within the agenda of SURAO (English: RWRA – Radioactive waste repository authority) whose chief task is to ensure a secure handling of radioactive waste which must be undertaken in accordance with the government-approved Concept of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel management, nuclear safety requirements, requirements regarding the protection of human lives and the environment and international treaties. The results of the introduced project may greatly contribute to the process of the selection of a suitable burnt-out nuclear fuel deposition site with regard to the natural geochemical barrier existence and functioning.