Home pagePress monitoringResearch uncovers microbial life in radioactive waste...

Research uncovers microbial life in radioactive waste storage sites

Date: 15.4.2020 

Two new research papers from The University of Manchester, working with colleagues at Sellafield Limited and the National Nuclear Laboratory show that microbes can actively colonize some of the most intensively radioactive waste storage sites in Europe.

Kredit: University of Manchester.When nuclear facilities such as Sellafield were designed and built more than 50 years ago, it was sensible to assume that the conditions in the pond would prevent microbial life from taking hold, but now new research shows that this is not the case.

The growth of microbial life in nuclear facilities can cause uncertainty or problems. Understanding how microbial life can inhabit environments such as fuel storage ponds is vital to progress nuclear decommissioning work such as at Sellafield.

Microbes are a group of organisms that, including bacteria and algae, are known to inhabit a wide range of habitats on Earth. Improvements in detection technology in recent years has allowed microorganisms to be detected in environments previously thought to be inhospitable to life. It is now becoming clear that some microorganisms are capable of withstanding surprisingly high doses of radiation, at levels significantly greater than seen in natural environments.

Prof Jonathan Lloyd said: "Our research focused on Sellafield's First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), which is a legacy pond that has both significant levels of radioactivity in conjunction with a highly alkaline pH (11.4), equivalent to domestic bleach.





  • BC AV CR
  • Budvar
  • CAVD
  • CZBA
  • Eco Tend
  • Envisan Gem
  • Gentrend
  • JAIP
  • Jihočeská univerzita
  • Madeta
  • Forestina