HADES underground laboratory
Deep beneath SCK•CEN in Mol is a thick layer of clay: the Boom clay. In the search for a solution to the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, SCK•CEN constructed a laboratory 225 metres below the ground
. Appropriately this was given the name HADES, the god of the underworld. HADES stands for High Activity Disposal Experimental Site. Via the economic partnership EIG EURIDICE
together with NIRAS [the Belgian agency for radioactive waste and enriched fissile materials]
, SCK•CEN undertakes research in HADES into the feasibility of storing high-level radioactive waste
in the deep layers of clay.
Various building phases
Safe and feasible solution
We constructed a number of underground galleries in various stages. The construction of the access shaft started in 1980 and in 2007 we undertook the last extension. The longest gallery measures 180 metres. Over the years we have improved the excavation techniques and developed methods that cause the minimum disruption to the clay layers. At present the most important experiment is devoted to the study of how the clay reacts to the heat from high-level radioactive waste. This experiment is being conducted in a gallery which will be heated with electrical resistance.
Through the experiments in HADES we are studying how clay behaves as a host for radioactive waste under realistic disposal conditions. We have now learnt from over 30 years of study that the disposal of radioactive waste in a clay formation that has been stable for millions of years can be considered a safe and feasible solution. The clay layer forms an excellent retaining structure for the radioactive substances and thus protects people and environment.
Discover more: Technology for the future - Radioactive waste disposal
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