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D. Lab Proposes More Durable Materials for Nuclear Waste Storage

Narrator: This is Science Today. Radioactive waste decays over time and this poses long-term storage problems because materials currently used to encase radioactive waste are ultimately damaged and are then susceptible to rupturing or leaching. Scientist Kurt Sickafus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory says one of the major limitations of long-term storage has been the absence of a material that is both chemically durable, as well as radiation-resistant.

Sickafus: They need to be tolerant of the damage that's introduced by the radioactive decay and this is something that is a very difficult problem to solve to have a material that's robust over very long periods of time.

Narrator: But researchers at the Los Alamos Lab have proposed materials - a set of crystalline-ceramic oxides - which appear to have a very high radiation tolerance.

Sickafus: They do appear very attractive. So you're essentially relying on the high stability of these rock-like oxides to hold your radioactive constituents and keep them out of any environmental situations where they would come back to interact with the living environment.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.