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Considering Timescales in the Post-closure Safety of Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste

image of Considering Timescales in the Post-closure Safety of Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste

A key challenge in the development of safety cases for the deep geological disposal of radioactive waste is handling the long time frame over which the radioactive waste remains hazardous. The intrinsic hazard of the waste decreases with time, but some hazard remains for extremely long periods. This report reviews the current status and ongoing discussions of this issue, addressing such issues as ethical principles, the evolution of the hazard over time, uncertainties in the evolution of the disposal system (and how these uncertainties themselves evolve), the stability and predictability of the geological environment, repository planning and implementation including regulatory requirements, siting decisions, repository design, the development and presentation of safety cases and the planning of pre- and post-closure institutional controls such as monitoring requirements.

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Introduction

Nuclear Energy Agency

Geological repositories are sited and designed to isolate the waste from the environment normally accessible to humans and to contain its radioactivity and any chemically toxic components. Placing the waste deep underground in a suitable location ensures that the waste is not only inaccessible to humans, but also protected from surface events and processes. Containment by suitably chosen engineered and geological barriers means that releases from the repository are either prevented or, since some eventual releases can probably never be excluded, do not give rise to concentrations in the surface environment that would cause harm, at least over times that are of concern to regulators and other stakeholders.

English

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