Storage of radioactive waste in concrete structures is a means of containing wastes and related radionuclides generated from nuclear operations in many countries. Previous efforts related to microbial impacts on concrete structures that are used to contain radioactive waste showed that microbial activity can play a significant role in the process of concrete degradation and ultimately structural deterioration. This literature review examines the research in this field and is focused on specific parameters that are applicable to modeling and prediction of the fate of concrete structures used to store or dispose of radioactive waste. Rates of concrete biodegradation vary with the environmental conditions, illustrating a need to understand the bioavailability of key compounds involved in microbial activity. Specific parameters require pH and osmotic pressure to be within a certain range to allow for microbial growth as well as the availability and abundance of energy sources such as components involved in sulfur, iron and nitrogen oxidation. Carbon flow and availability are also factors to consider in predicting concrete biodegradation.
The microbial contribution to degradation of the concrete structures containing radioactive waste is a constant possibility. The rate and degree of concrete biodegradation is dependent on numerous physical, chemical and biological parameters. Parameters to focus on for modeling activities and possible options for mitigation that would minimize concrete biodegradation are discussed and include key conditions that drive microbial activity on concrete surfaces.