Potentially corrosive brines can form during post-closure by deliquescence of salt minerals in dust deposited on the surface of waste packages at Yucca Mountain during operations and the pre-closure ventilation period. Although thermodynamic modeling and experimental studies of brine deliquescence indicates that brines are likely to form, they will be nitrate-rich and noncorrosive. Processes that modify the brines following deliquescence are beneficial with respect to inhibition of corrosion. For example, acid degassing (HCl, HNO3) could dry out brines, but kinetic limitations are likely to limit the effect to increasing their passivity by raising the pH and increasing the NO3/Cl ratio.
Predicted dust quantities and maximum brine volumes on the waste package surface are small, and physical isolation of salt minerals in the dust may inhibit formation of eutectic brines and decrease brine volumes. If brines do contact the WP surface, small droplet volumes and layer thicknesses do not support development of diffusive gradients necessary for formation on separate anodic-cathodic zones required for localized corrosion. Finally, should localized corrosion initiate, corrosion product buildup will stifle corrosion, by limiting oxygen access to the metal surface, by capillary retention of brine in corrosion product porosity, or by consumption of brine components (Cl−).