Experts believe that gases generated by metal corrosion and degradation of organic waste would be likely to accumulate within a geological repository. The main gases produced would be hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. It is thought these could contain radioactive isotopes such as tritium and carbon 14. If gas accumulated within a repository there would be a build-up of pressure which could have an effect on the repository’s engineered structure and host rock, some believe. Peter Wilkinson of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates said there were “anomalies” in terms of the development of a repository that still needed to be addressed. “On the one hand you have to isolate the radioactivity from the biosphere in a repository, and therefore you want to make it as impermeable as possible, but on the other you need to ensure that some of this gas escapes. “It’s a dilemma. If gas is vented, it could significantly alter the risk of those exposed to developing fatal cancers,” he said.
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