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Understanding the likelihood and consequences of post-closure criticality in a geological disposal facility

  • R. J. Winsley (a1), T. D. Baldwin (a2), T. W. Hicks (a2), R. M. Mason (a3) and P. N. Smith (a3)...

Abstract

A geological disposal facility (GDF) will include fissile materials that could, under certain conditions, lead to criticality. Demonstration of criticality safety therefore forms an important part of a GDF's safety case.

Containment provided by the waste package will contribute to criticality safety during package transport and the GDF operational phase. The GDF multiple-barrier system will ensure that criticality is prevented for some time after facility closure. However, on longer post-closure timescales, conditions in the GDF will evolve and it is necessary to demonstrate: an understanding of the conditions under which criticality could occur; the likelihood of such conditions occurring; and the consequences of criticality should it occur.

Work has addressed disposal of all of the UK's higher-activity wastes in three illustrative geologies. This paper, however, focuses on presenting results to support safe disposal of spent fuel, plutonium and highlyenriched uranium in higher-strength rock.

The results support a safety case assertion that post-closure criticality is of low likelihood and, if it was to occur, the consequences would be tolerable.

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Copyright

Copyright © The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2015. This is an open access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

References

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Environment Agency (2009) Geological Disposal Facilities on Land for Solid Radioactive Wastes: Guidance on Requirements for Authorisation. Environment Agency and Northern Ireland Environment Agency, UK.
Gold Sim (2009) GoldSim User Guide. GoldSim technology Group LLC, Version 10.0.
Gold Sim (2010) GoldSim Contaminant Transport Module User Guide. GoldSim technology Group LLC, Version 5.1
Hicks, T.W and Baldwin, T.D. (2014) The Likelihood of Criticality: Synthesis Report. AMEC Report 17293-TR-023 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Version 2.
Hicks, T.W., Baldwin, T.D., Solano, J.M. and Bennett, D.G. (2014a) The Likelihood of Criticality: Following Disposal of LLW/ILW/DNLEU. AMEC Report 17293-TR-021 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Version 2.
Hicks, T.W., Baldwin, T.D., Solano, J.M. and Bennett, D. G (2014b) The Likelihood of Criticality: Following Disposal of SF/HLW/HEU/Pu. AMEC Report 17293-TR-022 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Version 2.
Mason, R.M. and Smith, P.N. (2015a) Modelling of consequences of hypothetical criticality: post-closure criticality consequence analysis for ILW, LLW and DNLEU Disposal. AMEC Report AMEC/SF2409/ 011 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Issue 3.
Mason, R.M. and Smith, P.N. (2015b) Modelling of consequences of hypothetical criticality: post-closure criticality consequence analysis for HLW, spent fuel, plutonium and HEU disposal. AMEC Report AMEC/ SF2409/012 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Issue 3.
Mason, R.M., Smith, P.N. and Holton, D. (2014) Modelling of consequences of hypothetical criticality: synthesis report for post-closure criticality consequence analysis. AMEC Report AMEC/SF2409/013 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Issue 2.
Mason, R.M., Martin, J.K., Smith, P.N. and Winsley, R.J. (2015) Application of a transient criticality methodology to hypothetical post-closure criticality events for spent fuel disposal. Mineralogical Magazine, 79, 15051513.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (2010a) Geological Disposal: An overview of the generic Disposal System Safety Case. NDA/RWMD/010.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (2010b) Geological Disposal: Generic Environmental Safety Case main report. NDA RWMD/030.

Keywords

Understanding the likelihood and consequences of post-closure criticality in a geological disposal facility

  • R. J. Winsley (a1), T. D. Baldwin (a2), T. W. Hicks (a2), R. M. Mason (a3) and P. N. Smith (a3)...

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