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[BKARTS] Archival permanence for the UK Atomic Energy Authority

Interesting article I found on a technical website, then traced to the
original posting:
- o0o -
Vital details of radioactive waste stored at Windscale, one of Britain’s
former nuclear research sites, have been recorded on “permanent” paper to
ensure the information remains intact for future generations. 

In a “first” for the nuclear industry, managers at the United Kingdom Atomic
Energy Authority site chose paper instead of electronic storage because of
its known ability to withstand the ravages of time. Electronic storage is
prone to corruption and supporting equipment and software rapidly becomes
obsolete. In contrast, paper records can last for centuries with examples of
scrolls from the time of Pharaohs still in existence - and legible.

The documents set out details of the intermediate level radioactive waste
arising from decommissioning the Windscale Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor – the
well-known “golf-ball” landmark on the Cumbrian skyline. Removal of the
reactor core and other internal plant will be completed next year. The waste
has been grouted into concrete boxes for storage on the site until a
national solution is arrived at for the long-term management of the UK’s
intermediate and high level wastes.

Some 423 documents were photocopied onto 11,718 sheets of “permanent” paper,
packed in copper impregnated bags, and stored in 16 special long-life
archive boxes. Permanent paper is acid free paper that will not deteriorate
or discolour like recycled paper which has a high lignin acid content. For
extra assurance, two further sets of records for archiving at different
locations were prepared to mitigate against future loss or disaster. The
specialist photocopying was carried out by Furness Engineering and
Technology of Ulverston.

David Gray, who led the project, said: “Our successors in the years and
decades ahead must have access to detailed and reliable records of the
stored radioactive waste as part of its long-term, safe management. For this
reason UKAEA carried out a thorough study of all the options before deciding
on the permanent paper solution. We worked closely with the radioactive
waste agency, Nirex, on this novel solution and we hope that it will now be
adopted across the industry.” 

- o0o -
Archival permanence with a purpose the real world can understand!
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