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Symposium 2013 Luxembourg | February 5–7, 2013

Background

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An important level of maturity has been reached in the many scientific and technical areas relevant to geological disposal of long-lived radioactive waste and there is a world-wide scientific consensus that safe geological disposal is technically feasible. For tracking technical progress and for licensing purposes in individual national programmes, the scientific understanding underpinning the long-term safety of geological repositories is documented in technical studies known under the generic name of "Safety Case". The Safety Case can be described as a structured collection of arguments, supported by a body of evidence that provides a compelling, comprehensible and valid case for a given application, in a given operational environment. In the case of deep geological disposal projects, which develop over many decades, a stepwise approach to implementation and decision making is favoured. The available body of evidence is thus evaluated at each decision-making step and a judgment is made on its sufficiency and on the necessity of further developments.

Continued research and development until closure of a geological repository is an important feature of any disposal programme. Recognition of additional research and development needs is part of a modern Safety Case. For projects such as waste disposal that are going to be implemented over timescales of decades if not centuries, continuing research and development activities are not a sign of immaturity or lack of confidence, but a gauge of continuing commitment to learning and to improving approaches. General scientific developments may even require that previously "closed issues" are revisited from time to time, in order to demonstrate that the current scientific understanding for the decision then at hand.

Meeting objective

Understanding gas generation and migration has been shown to be relevant in the development of safety cases for repositories and is the focus of the research being undertaken in the FORGE project. Important research areas in relation to gas in a repository context include: dilational versus visco-capillary flow mechanisms; long-term integrity of seals, in particular gas flow along contacts; the role of the EDZ as a conduit for preferential flow; laboratory to field up-scaling. Of particular importance are the long-term performance of bentonite buffers, plastic clays, indurated mudrocks and crystalline formations with respect to gas. FORGE has generated further experimental data to reduce uncertainty relating to the quantitative treatment of gas in performance assessment and is also adding to the qualitative understanding of gas issues, an important strand in developing a safety case.

This event is to disseminate the outcomes of the FORGE project and other recent work on the generation and migration of gases in the context of geological repositories for the disposal of radioactive waste, and to draw relevant lessons.

Useful links and information

Meeting rooms booked at JMO (Jean Monnet): M1, M2, M3, M4, M5 and M6 for the three days 5 to 7 Feb, 2013.

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