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Stability and Buffering Capacity of the Geosphere for Long-term Isolation of Radioactive Waste

Application to Crystalline Rock

image of Stability and Buffering Capacity of the Geosphere for Long-term Isolation of Radioactive Waste
Geological settings selected as potential host formations for the deep geological disposal of radioactive waste are chosen for, among other assets, their long-term stability and buffering capacity against destabilising events and processes. These proceedings present the outcomes of a geosphere stability workshop, held in November 2007, that focused on crystalline and other types of hard, fractured rocks. The workshop underscored the fact that many such rocks are intrinsically stable environments that evolve extremely slowly and provide good buffering against external events and processes.

The proceedings show a good understanding of the processes and events that can affect crystalline rocks and, although there is less confidence in predicting exactly when and where such events will occur and the volume of rock that will be affected, the extent of the impacts on a geological repository can be confidently addressed using bounding approaches supported by geological information from similar sites around the world.

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Introduction

Nuclear Energy Agency

Disposal of high-level and/or long-lived radioactive waste in engineered facilities, or repositories, located underground in suitable geological formations, is being widely investigated world-wide as a long-term management solution. This is in order to protect humans and the environment, both now and in the future. From a quantitative point of view, a repository is said to be safe if it meets the relevant safety standards, such as internationally recommended or specified by the responsible national regulatory authorities. In recent years the scope of the safety assessment has broadened to include the collation of a broader range of evidence and arguments that complement and support the reliability of the results of quantitative analyses. The broader term “post-closure safety case”, or simply “safety case”,1 is used to refer to these studies. It has also become evident that repository development will involve a number of step-by-step stages, punctuated by interdependent decision making on whether and how to move from one stage to the subsequent one. These decisions require a clear and traceable presentation of robust technical arguments that will help to give confidence in the feasibility and safety of a proposed concept. The depth of understanding and technical information available to support decisions will increase from step to step. The safety case is a key input to support a decision to move to the next stage in repository development. It reflects the state of understanding and the results of the research and development (R&D) undertaken at a certain stage, and supports decisions concerning future R&D efforts. 

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