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discovered 02_2012

discovered 02.12 FOCUS WWW.Hzdr.DE // When steel containers used to store highly radioactive waste in nuclear waste repositories are rusting through, they still maintain part of their retaining efficiency. This was recently confirmed by a series of experiments using plutonium at the HZDR beamline ROBL, which is located at ESRF, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Much of the credit for the success of this experiment goes to the networking between European radiochemistry facilities. _TEXT . Anja Weigl Translation . Dennis Schulz When containers start to rust WORK HORSE: Gloveboxes are standard radiochemistry equipment. Not only do they keep the researchers safe but, at the same time, they also shield the samples from environmental effects. Image credit: Oliver Killig When characterizing the experiments, Andreas Scheinost likes to invoke the attribute “unprecedented.“ The scientist and head of ROBL in Grenoble, France, is not only talking about the experimental results themselves - although they represent an important step towards the safety of future repositories for high-level radioactive waste. More importantly, several European scientists shared their specific expertise for this project. Radiochemical experiments pose major security challenges. “For this particular project, a large number of experimental and radioprotection requirements came together, and they all needed to be fulfilled,“ says Andreas Scheinost. “Up to now, nobody has ever conducted a similar experiment.“ The Rossendorf beamline ROBL has two experimental stations - one for Materials Science, the other for Radiochemistry. It is one of only two places in Europe where the structure of radioactive substances as well as their interactions with the environment can be examined with atomic precision. Many ROBL experiments ultimately contribute to assessing the