Technical Integration and Scientific Communication

Preparing the conditions for a European Joint Programme on Radioactive Waste Management (including Disposal) – (2015-2018)

MCM has been participating in the 3 year EC JOPRAD project to support identification and development of the scientific basis of a potential future joint programme on radioactive waste management. The ambition has been to identify research, development and demonstration (RD&D) needs of  common interest between nationally mandated organisations with a formal responsibility for managing RD&D in the field of radioactive waste management. This includes Waste Management Organisations, Technical Support Organisations (fulfilling a Regulatory Expertise Function) and Research Entities. MCM staff, together with RWM, ANDRA, and the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) have authored the JOPRAD Programme Document, and supported all coordination of inputs from 37 individual organisations, representing 16 European countries. The outputs included an open and transparent methodology for development of a strategic research agenda with clear priorities identified as suitable for future Joint Programming. MCM also supported organisation of an open consultation and Programme Document workshop in London, April 2017.

Project Co-Ordination for the EC CArbon-14 Source Term (CAST) Project (2013-2018)

The CAST project began operating on 1st October 2013 and is co-ordinated by Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), to which MCM have provided project co-ordination support throughout.

In our atmosphere, carbon-14 is continuously generated from nitrogen (about 80% of air) and is incorporated into all living things. When a species die, the incorporation of this cosmogenically generated carbon-14 stops and its content decreases by radioactive decay. The degree of carbon-14 decay in material from once living things allows archaeologists to determine how old their findings of biological origin (e.g. a wooden tool) are. Carbon-14 is also generated in nuclear reactors e.g. during irradiation of metals containing nitrogen or carbon additions. These materials are considered radioactive waste for which special safety measures are and will be taken. The CAST aims to develop understanding of the potential release mechanisms of carbon-14 from radioactive waste materials under conditions relevant to waste packaging and disposal to underground geological disposal facilities. The expected increase in understanding should decrease uncertainties in the long-term safety assessment and increase confidence in the safety case.

The CAST consortium brings together 33 partners with many different skills and competences both in geological disposal of difference waste types, but also in developing safety cases and on planning and implementing experimental programmes on gas generation. The consortium includes national waste management organisations (WMOs), research institutes, universities and commercial organisations working in this field. The involvement of the waste management organisations (the end-users of the outcome in the form of process understanding, data and competence) ensures that the project is focused on important and outstanding issues. It also ensures that the project is aligned to European national programmes and thus that results are used as intended. Organisations from three countries outside the European Union also participate in CAST– Ukraine (SI IEG NASU), Japan (RWMC) and Switzerland (NAGRA). This offers a unique extension of scientific basis to the project, as well as an insight into how other national programmes manage the issue of 14C.

The final symposium was held in Lyon, France in January 2018.

GDF technical programme support (2017)

MCM, and their partners in ARUP, were contracted to RWM as technical experts in order to help RWM understand the duration, cost, resource requirements and risks to delivering the engineering design of the geological disposal facility.

By defining numerous, separate pieces of work addressing a specific part of the GDF challenge, RWM was able to utilise a large set of supply chain expertise to effectively achieve an external review of its GDF programme.

MCM was specifically tasked with investigating Backfill and Buffer Systems and LHGW Container Unpacking in each of the three rock types – HRS, LSSR and EVR. For these areas, MCM delivered an assessment of task/research priority and relevant tools to enable a path towards a solution, thus supporting RWM in the progression of their programme.

Supporting RWM to manage work within the EC Project Demonstration of Plugs and Seals (DOPAS) (2013-2016)

Fourteen nuclear waste management organisations and research institutes from eight European countries are participating in a technology development project for testing plugging and sealing systems for geological disposal facilities for radioactive waste – the DOPAS project (“Full-Scale Demonstration of Plugs and Seals”). The project is built around a set of full-scale underground demonstrations, laboratory experiments, and performance assessment studies. MCM has been contracted to support RWM with their role as work package 4 lead with the objective to assess and evaluate:

  • the construction methodologies and technologies for plugs and seals (WP3);
  • the results of the subsequent monitoring phase and the outcome of the dismantling activities to evaluate the predictions against the actual measured performance;
  • summarise the achievements made in design and the industrial scale implementation construction, in the light of the specified required performance of plugs and seals as defined in Work Package 2; and
  • to provide a basis and direct input for performance assessment related activities carried out in (WP5).
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