Why are calculations of the content of carbon-14 made?
CAST is a research project that aims to develop understanding of the potential release of 14C from radioactive waste materials under conditions relevant to waste packaging and disposal to underground geological disposal facilities.
No gamma rays are emitted during carbon-14 decay, only beta. Its measurement in radiaoctive wastes cannot be determined non-invasively by gamma spectrometry. Carbon-14 in wastes needs to be separated from other radionuclides, if the total carbon-14 content is to be determined. These separations may include conversion of the carbon-14 to a gaseous form for subsequent trapping and analysis. Such analysis require a number of samples to be taken and may be difficult and time consuming. However, it is also possible to calculate the carbon-14 content in many wastes from the operations and decomissioning of a nuclear reactor, limiting the number of samples that may need to be taken for a reliable carbon-14 inventory.