In accordance with the R&D framework specified by the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan in 2000 for the implementing phase of HLW disposal, the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC) continues to be responsible for R&D activities aimed at enhancing the reliability of disposal technologies and safety assessment methodologies and associated databases. JNC has thus been actively promoting technical R&D with a view to contributing to both the implementation of disposal and the formulation of safety regulations.
One of JNC's key roles is to establish and demonstrate site characterization methodologies based on investigations in two purpose-built generic URL (underground research laboratory) projects: one at Mizunami in crystalline rock and the other at Horonobe in sedimentary rock.
Through the surface-based investigations in the Mizunami and Horonobe projects (phase 1), integration of work from different disciplines into a “geosynthesis” has been illustrated and is planned to be developed further in the underground facilities at these sites (phases 2 and 3). These projects also serve for developing and testing the tools and methodologies required for site characterization. Further know-how will be gained through participation in foreign underground laboratory projects, transfer of experience from these projects to Japan and tailoring it to Japanese conditions and requirements.
This experience represents an important knowledge base, which is obviously important for the implementer but is also needed by the regulator, in order to assess how key site characteristics are derived and what uncertainties are associated with this process.