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Characterization of conditioned nuclear waste for its safe disposal in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CHANCE (Characterization of conditioned nuclear waste for its safe disposal in Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

The CHANCE project addresses specific issue of the characterization of conditioned radioactive waste. Unlike for raw waste, the characterization of fully or partly conditioned radioactive waste is a specific issue because its characterization is more complex and emphasises specific non-destructive techniques and methodologies. There are various reasons: 1) conditioned waste may no longer be in its initial form, 2) conditioned waste is typically embedded or surrounded by matrix material, 3) conditioned waste may contain wastes from different primary sources and therefore a more complex radiological spectrum is expected. Characterization issues within CHANCE encompass both physico-chemical characterization and radiological characterization.
The experimental focus of CHANCE is radioactive waste held in large volume compounds potentially containing hidden components, e.g. spent fuel in large volume storage containers, problematic and historical waste, specific waste arising from repair or maintenance, decommissioning/dismantling waste. CHANCE concentrates on radioactive waste destined for geological disposal.
The objectives are:
- to establish at the European level a comprehensive understanding of current conditioned radioactive waste characterization and quality control schemes across the variety of different national radioactive waste management programmes, based on inputs from end-users such as Waste Management Organisations and storage operators with a focus on Very Low Level Waste; Low Level Waste; Intermediate Level Waste ; High Level Waste. Very Short Level Waste and Exempt Waste are beyond the scope of CHANCE as these kinds of waste are not destined for geological disposal.

- to further develop, test and validate techniques already identified that will undoubtedly improve the characterization of conditioned radioactive waste, namely those that cannot easily be dealt with using conventional methods.
The proposed R&D programme consists of assembling the appropriate hardware and tools for testing and the evaluation of the performance of 3 innovative characterization techniques that are complementary and supplementary to current techniques for the non-destructive assay of radioactive waste. Outstanding and specific issues concerning the characterization of conditioned radioactive waste, in particular where current methods fall short or are too imprecise or incomprehensive, will be addressed.
Destructive technologies followed by chemical or radiological analyses are commonly used techniques for radioactive waste characterization. However, they are not addressed here. Since these techniques are routinely applied to the raw waste itself, this is not in the scope of CHANCE project.
Specifically, the work focusses on:
• Calorimetry as an innovative non-destructive technique to reduce uncertainties on the inventory of radionuclides;
• Muon Tomography to address the specific issue of non-destructive control of the content of large volume nuclear waste;
• Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CRDS) as an innovative technique to characterize outgassing of radioactive waste.
During 1st period, the main work performed consisted of the following actions:
* Methodology for conditioned radioactive waste characterization: Problematic wastes and R&D proposal WP2
- Preparation of a questionnaire to collate information on national waste management programmes (radioactive waste streams and their management solutions)
- Start of the analysis of the responses to the questionnaire

* Calorimetry associated with non-destructive assay (NDA) techniques and uncertainties study (WP3)
- Benchmark of calorimeters and standard NDA (Non-Destructive Assay) methods for characterization of large volume waste drums.
- Development and manufacturing of a 200 L calorimeter

*Muon imaging for innovative tomography of large volume and heterogeneous cemented waste packages (WP4)
- Building a suitable mobile muon detection system
- Developing and adaping the software for MT according to the task requirements

Innovative gas and outgassing analysis and monitoring (WP5)
-Development of an instrument for the detection of H36Cl based on CRDS
- Investigation of the release behaviour of 14C using CRDS

*Dissemination and training activities (WP6)
- CHANCE website (
- Delivery of the CHANCE Communication Action Plan
- Contribution to the development of the WP2 questionnaire pertaining to socio-technical and ethical issues associated with the waste characterization process in view of the final disposal of radioactive waste.
- Preparation of the first Topical Day/Training event to be held in 2019

*Management & coordination (WP1)
- day-to-day management and coordination of the CHANCE project.
- First End-USer group meeting
The expected impacts are:
- improvement in quality control of the waste management process and improvement of the global safety of the whole chain of RWM, including transport safety, interim storage safety and final disposal operational and long term safety.
- a more efficient and accurate classification. As disposal solution costs are very variable, if some waste may be re- classified, this will lead to potential economic and efficiency gains. For example, a re-classification of some intermediate level waste destined to geological disposal to low level waste that can be sent to surface disposal could result in important cost savings in the waste management process.
- contribution to the establishment of a homogenized approach for the characterization of different radioactive waste streams with respect to their respective final disposal solutions within the European community. This will be done by obtaining a clear overview of remaining issues, current methodologies and End-User needs for conditioned waste characterization. This will be important input for potential future research and innovation actions.
- enhancing common practices on the issue of characterization of conditioned waste between relevant stakeholders (CHANCE partners and End- User Group members) and the wider radioactive waste management community.
- contributing to the leading role of the EU in developing and advancing state-of-the-art techniques for radioactive waste characterization. The CHANCE project also aims to involve PhD students and to give dedicated training courses for professionals involved in radioactive waste characterization.
- The demonstration of the improvement in safety will eventually strengthen public acceptance and confidence in this process and therefore in the whole nuclear industry.