A renaissance of interest in nuclear energy has been driven by the desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. However, a major expansion of nuclear energy is likely to demand innovative and cost effective improvements to the processing and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear wastes. Iodine radioisotopes constitute an important fraction of the fission product inventory arising from fission of 235U in thermal reactors. 129I is the most important of these radioisotopes with respect to potential long term dose arising from direct disposal and reprocessing of nuclear fuels and constitutes 0.8% of the total fission product inventory. The high radiotoxicity of 129I arises from the combination of β, γ decay (0.06 MeV β, 0.025 MeV γ), long half life (15.7 × 106 y), high mobility in the environment and accumulation in the human thyroid gland leading to thyroid cancer.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Nuclear Materials (2011) doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2011.04.041, in press.

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