The CANDU nuclear reactor leaves 211 Radioactive Poisons

Chart of 211 Radioactive Poisons in 10-Year Old CANDU Spent Fuel

The following chart identifies 211 radioactive poisons which are present in every ten-year old irradiated CANDU fuel bundle. The list is not complete.These data, compiled from AECL-9881, refer to the radioactive contents of an irradiated fuel bundle from the Bruce A reactors.

The origin of each radioactive poison is also indicated in the chart:

  • F.P. indicates ”Fission Products”: these are the broken pieces of atoms which were split or fissioned in the reactor to produce energy [fission products are also produced when an atomic bomb explodes].
  • F.I.A.P. indicates ”Fuel Impurity Activation Products”: during fission, impurities in the fuel become radioactive by absorbing neutrons.
  • Z.A.P. indicates ”Zircaloy-4 Activation Products”: elements in the zirconium sheath also become radioactive by absorbing neutrons.
  • ”Actinides” refer to the radioactive decay products of uranium and the trans-uranium (heavier-than-uranium) elements created during fission, when uranium atoms absorb one or more neutrons without fissioning.

The radioactivity of each poison is only roughly indicated:

  • a single yen-sign   ¥   indicates the presence of a particular radioactive poison;
  • a triple yen-sign   ¥ ¥ ¥   indicates the presence of over a million becquerels of that radioactive poison
    • per kg of uranium fuel (for FP, FIAP, and Actinides) or
    • per kg of zirconium alloy (for ZAP).

The list is organized according to the electric charge of the nucleus (the so-called “atomic number [Z]”), from the smallest charge (Hydrogen-3, also known as “tritium”) to the largest charge (Californium-252). This is consistent with the order of the elements in the periodic table.Within each chemical species, the radioactive varieties (called “isotopes” or “nuclides”) are organized according to the mass of the nucleus, indicated by the accompanying number in the chart, called the “mass number [A]”…….

CHART  – on original …..


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