Deep borehole disposal as an avenue for multinational collaboration
Deep borehole disposal has received increased attention in recent years as a potential method for safe disposal of high-level radioactive waste, including spent fuel. Borehole disposal is of particular interest to small-inventory States, because the economies of scale are different than for deep geological repositories that involve access tunnels, shafts, and tunnel galleries (mined repositories). The driver for countries to combine their waste inventories in a shared multinational repository (MNR) is thus not as strong for borehole repositories, but large benefits can still result from multinational cooperation.
The ERDO Association is conducting a project that assesses the strategic potential of borehole disposal for several European countries, based on their existing and projected national waste inventories. The project has identified a basic design that could enable disposal of both spent fuel and high-level waste from reprocessing, thereby enabling disposal of a significant portion of the combined waste inventory. Strategic implications, such as required support facilities, implementation time, risks, and costs have been assessed. The generic process for concept development has been described. The concept is in an early, generic stage. Central uncertainties have been assessed, and topics for continued research and development have been identified.
The differences between fixed and variable costs for borehole disposal and mined repositories may enable a multinational approach that focuses on sharing R&D-resources, encapsulation facilities, tools, and methods, rather than constructing one shared repository. This may open attractive opportunities for national and international organizations, as well as commercial companies with relevant competence.
Legacy Waste Characterization
The high-level objective of the ERDO-WG Legacy Waste Characterization (LWC) project is sharing information and methodologies for a better characterization of Legacy Waste in view of possible future management activities and acceptance for storage or disposal into national/multi-national facilities.
For the purpose of the present project, Legacy Waste is defined as: radioactive waste generated in past activities (energy production, medicine, research, industry) which has been treated and conditioned according to the rules in force at the time or simply stored pending a suitable management solution; such waste is often lacking sufficient physico-chemical-radiological characterization data for envisaging possible re-treatment/re-conditioning processes in line with current regulatory requirements and/or checking compliance with Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) of storage/disposal facilities.
The activities of the project are arranged in the following Tasks:
Task 1: Survey of existing main Legacy Waste streams
Task 2: Minimum set of WACs for near-surface disposal of VLLW-LLW
Task 3: Main properties of ILW packages potentially suitable for geologic disposal
Task 4: Characterization of main Legacy Waste streams