A new project has been launched which aims to find a solution to the huge problem Europe faces in safely disposing of toxic waste.

Computational Mechanics, in conjunction with partners in Germany, Sweden, Greece and the UK, are working together to investigate the use of abandoned mines as suitable repositories for hazardous waste and to assess their performance with respect to environmental safety and cost.

A significant challenge to Governments and industry is the search for the disposal of hazardous waste and technologies that are simple, practical and economical for safe guarding public health and reduction of environmental pollution. Disposal in abandoned mines is believed to be an achievable, low risk and relatively cheap way of disposal of hazardous waste.

The main objective is to determine the stability and capacity of reference mine repositories to provide safe and permanent isolation of hazardous waste. Calculations using recent rock characterization methods and numerical techniques will be made of the stability of the rock structure, and recent physico/chemical clay and concrete models will be used for calculating the isolating capacity of suitably backfilled reference repositories in terms of the concentration of hazardous ion species appearing in the farfield environment. The transport of toxic elements will be calculated using relevant flow and diffusion models applied to the reference cases which represent different rock structures and flow path patterns.

Computational Mechanics will be using it's expertise in computer modelling to simulate the performance of the proposed mine repositories to determine their conformity with European directives on pollution.

The project is partly funded by the European Union Framework V Environmental Research Programme and the project partners are Computational Mechanics, UK; Geodevelopment AB, Sweden; Durtech GmbH, Germany; Wessex Institute of Technology, UK and National Technical University, Greece

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Bob Adey.