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Evaluating R&D Progress in the Context of the Safety Case

  • L.H. Johnson (a1) and P. Zuidema (a1)

Abstract

The strategic approach and structuring of safety cases for nuclear waste repositories have seen marked improvements over the past ten to fifteen years as a result of the collective experience of national agencies in developing their safety cases and their efforts, under the auspices of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), to develop a systematic and thorough approach, as well as through systematic reviews by regulators and expert teams. A safety case can be developed at any stage in a program and it provides a remarkably effective method for reassessing design and siting requirements and refocusing R&D needs. The process of developing a safety case for a repository is the critical test of the quality of understanding that exists for a given repository concept, because it forces an integration of the siting and design strategies and the assessment approach. This integration demands that one evaluates all relevant R&D results available and addresses the questions i) is the system good? and ii) is the understanding sufficient, taking the stage of the programme into account?

Here we address some questions on the relationship between R&D work and the development of a safety case, including:

1) Is the R&D performed in Europe evolving in concert with safety case development for European repositories?

2) How much generic work is still needed when robust site-specific repository concepts obviously lead to much more focused R&D?

3) How good is good enough and how do we measure this at each successive stage of repository development?

There are no easy answers to such questions, but they must increasingly be addressed as national programs progress.

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References

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1. Nagra 2002. Project Opalinus Clay - Safety Report. Demonstration of disposal feasibility for spent fuel, vitrified high-level waste and long-lived intermediate-level waste (Entsorgungsnachweis). Nagra Technical Report NTB 02-05. Nagra, Wettingen, Switzerland.
2. NEA 1999. Confidence in the long-term safety of deep geological repositories. OECD/NEA Paris.
3. ONDRAF/NIRAS 2001. Technical overview of the SAFIR 2 report. NIROND 2001-05E.
4. ANDRA 2005. Dossier 2005 Argile. Tome évolution phénoménologique du stockage géologique, ANDRA, Paris.
5. SKB 1999. Deep repository for spent nuclear fuel, SR 97 – Post-closure safety, Main report summary, SKB Technical Report TR-99-06, SKB, Stockholm, Sweden.
6. Posiva 2003 Nuclear waste management of the Olkiluoto and Loviisa power plants: Programme for research, development and technical design for 2004-2006, Posiva Report TKS-2003.
7. Villar, M.V., Garcia-Sineriz, J.L., Barcena, I., Lloret, A., Eng. Geol., 80, pp. 175198.
8. European Commission 2004. NF-PRO. Understanding and physical and numerical modelling of the key processes in the near field and their coupling for different host rocks and repository strategies. http://www.nf-pro.org/
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10. European Commission 2005. ESDRED. Engineering studies and repository design. http://www.esdred.info/

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Evaluating R&D Progress in the Context of the Safety Case

  • L.H. Johnson (a1) and P. Zuidema (a1)

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