Siting and Geoscience

The location that emerges from a siting process must be technically capable of hosting the wastes concerned, should allow sufficient technical flexibility to optimise repository design to the site characteristics, and must be recognised by all stakeholders as an appropriate choice. Many technical and non-technical factors have to be balanced to the satisfaction of groups with differing views. Environmental impacts, transport of materials, societal impacts, costs and regulatory constraints are all prime issues for consideration. In the case of a volunteering siting approach, site characterisation has to be intimately coupled to the process of tailoring the repository design and the associated safety case to any proposed location that can be shown to satisfy the diverse technical and socioeconomic constraints.

In addition, the siting and design of critical infrastructure (nuclear power stations, reprocessing plants, interim storage facilities, or geological disposal facilities), or facilities that are considered to have high hazard potential, need to consider the long-term natural hazards to which the site might be susceptible. The importance of the requirement to assess and endeavour to quantify natural hazard risk was emphasized by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and associated tsunami, where several sensitive facilities were affected (most publically, the Fukushima Dai-itchi nuclear power plant, but also some petrochemical and industrial sites). Assessing hazards is particularly important when siting a new facility.

The MCM team has the expertise needed to address this complex activity. It has extensive direct experience in the planning and execution of programmes for identifying and evaluating repository sites, taking all these factors into account. The capabilities of MCM are based on relevant siting work stretching over four decades and involving several national programmes.

Key Capabilities:

  • Siting of critical facilities
  • Multi-hazard Probabilistic Hazard Assessment
  • Probabilistic Fault Displacement Hazard Assessments for a site
  • Expert Elicitation
  • Bayesian Belief Networks

All team members have co-authored papers and textbooks on waste management in which overviews of siting methodologies are reviewed:

  • Scourse E.M., Aspinall, W.P., Chapman, N.A. (2014). Using expert elicitation to characterise long-term tectonic risks to radioactive waste repositories in Japan, Journal of Risk Research 18 (3), November 2014.
  • “Deep Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste”, Elsevier, 2007 (Co-editor Alexander; contributors Ian McKinley and Charles McCombie)
  • “Principles and Standards for the Disposal of Long-Lived Wastes” Elsevier, 2003 (Authors Neil Chapman and Charles McCombie)
  • “The Scientific and Regulatory basis for the Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes” Wiley and Sons, 1987 (Contributor Neil Chapman)
  • “The Geological Disposal of Nuclear Waste”, Wiley and Sons, 1987 (Authors Neil Chapman and Ian McKinley)
  • “One Step at a Time: the Staged Development of Geologic Repositories for High Level Radioactive Waste”, National Research Council, 2003 (Chairman of drafting committee Charles McCombie)
  • Volcanic and Tectonic Hazard Assessment for Nuclear Facilities. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. (Connor C.B., Chapman N.A. and Connor L.J. (eds.)

In addition, various members have functioned as advisors to international organisations in their work on siting:

  • IAEA Siting documents (Neil Chapman)
  • EC SAPIERR project on regional repositories in Europe (Charles McCombie and Neil Chapman)
  • ITC School of Underground Waste Storage and Disposal
    • Teaching courses on siting (Neil Chapman, Charles McCombie, Ian McKinley)
    • Siting methodology project for NUMO (Neil Chapman, Ian McKinley).

For further details of our past projects, see the links below.

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