Skip to main content

Development and Demonstration of monitoring strategies and technologies for geological disposal

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Modern2020 (Development and Demonstration of monitoring strategies and technologies for geological disposal)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-05-31

Geological disposal represents the safest and most sustainable option as the end point of the management of high-level waste and spent fuel considered as waste (Official Journal of the European Union, 2011). Implementation of radioactive waste disposal should address both technical and societal needs, and monitoring has the potential to contribute to both of these aspects. Monitoring can form part of a repository safety strategy; it can contribute to public and stakeholder understanding of processes occurring in the repository, and hence, it can respond to public concerns and be used to build confidence in geological disposal. Monitoring could therefore play a role in enabling waste management organisations to work towards the safe and accepted implementation of geological disposal.

Based on the recommendations from international collaborative efforts on monitoring, undertaken under the auspices of IAEA, NEA and EC, including the outcomes of the MoDeRn Project, the Modern2020 Project was initiated to further develop the capability of implementing, repository monitoring during the operational phase to support the post-closure safety case, including finding ways of effectively engaging with stakeholders throughout this process. It aimed to provide the means for developing and implementing an effective and efficient repository operational monitoring programme, taking into account the requirements of specific programmes. The main focus of work was monitoring of the engineered barrier system and near-field rock during the operational period to support decision making and to build further confidence in the post-closure safety case.

Activities within Modern2020 sought to achieve these aims by:
• Developing strategies for selecting and maintaining a list of monitoring parameters and for responding to monitoring results that are applicable to different repository concepts and national contexts
• Conducting research and development on monitoring technologies with the aim of making them suitable for repository monitoring purposes (elated with wireless data transmission technologies, alternative long term power supplies, new sensors, geophysics, reliability and qualification of components)
• Conducting in situ demonstrations of the implementation of repository monitoring
• Developing innovative methods for engaging with local citizen stakeholders to gain a broader understanding of their views, and to find ways of enabling them to engage earlier with the development of monitoring strategies and technology research, development and demonstration (RD&D)
• Developing screening methodologies to identify monitoring parameter lists for different national monitoring contexts
• Launching and performing the test cases testing these methodologies for identification and screening of monitoring parameters
• Carrying out a survey addressing decision maaking to collect information regarding decision makers, responsibilities and action plans on processes that use monitoring data to make decisions on the management of each national radioactive waste repository programme. Preliminary decision making workflow

• Update of the MoDeRn State-of-the-Art by assigning a Readiness Level for the most relevant technologies
• improving wireless monitoring technology
• researching alternatives power supplies for autonomous, wireless monitoring nodes
• developing new sensors, including those based on optical fibre technology to monitor water content, water chemistry, pH and irradiation
• refining and further improve the most promising geophysical methods for non-intrusive monitoring
• Establishing a common methodology for qualifying the components of the monitoring system

• Experiment new technology developments under in situ conditions:
- EBS Monitoring Plan, Onkalo, FI
- (A)HA Industrial Pilot Experiment, Bure, FR
- Long-Term Rock Buffer Monitoring, Tournemire, FR
- Full-Scale Emplacement Experiment, Mont Terri and the TEM set-up Grimsel Test Site, CH

Societal concerns and Stakeholder Involvement
• Actively engaging with stakeholders on the research conducted in Modern2020 and analysing the impact this has on both the participating stakeholders’ and the project partners’ understanding of, and expectations regarding, repository monitoring
• Stakeholders from the municipalities of Östhammar (SE), Dessel and Mol (BE) and Eurajoki (FI) have been engaged within the project (through ‘home engagement’ events and through participation in Modern2020 workshops)
• A Report regarding national factors/decision-making structures which set boundaries to develop monitoring programmes in these countries and in France
• A Stakeholder Guide that aims to provide both science communication and inspiring examples and discussion question that are of value to stakeholders involved in discussion about geological disposal and monitoring.

• Scientific publications, participation in international and European scientific events, workshops, conferences
• Modern2020 international conference on monitoring the geological disposal of radioactive waste, April 2019, Paris, FR
• Modern2020 Training School, May 2019, Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory, SE
• Modern2020 Project Synthesis
Modern2020 has enhanced the ability to implement, both strategically and technically, repository monitoring during the operational phase to build further confidence in the post-closure safety case. The integrated strategic, technical and sociological work undertaken provides the platform for developing site-specific repository monitoring programmes. In programmes close to licensing, who will be submitting safety cases to authorities in the next few years, the Modern2020 results provide a broad set of tools, methods and guidance, and innovative technological approaches that can underpin the monitoring programmes included as part of the safety cases.

The strategic work has provided international consensus on strategies, parameter-selection methodologies and plans for responding to monitoring results. As each monitoring programme must respond to the national context (consisting of the relevant regulations, the waste characteristics, the geological environment, the disposal concept and repository design, and the socio-political environment), the next step is for specific waste management programmes to develop specific monitoring programmes.

Modern2020 has undertaken RD&D on a range of novel monitoring technologies and demonstrated the feasibility of WDT systems, alternative power supplies, monitoring using optical fibre systems, non-contact displacement monitoring, water chemistry monitoring using ion-selective electrodes, new sensors for temperature, pressure and relative humidity, and geophysical methods. Development of site-specific monitoring programmes will provide specifications for the further development of these technologies so that they can be deployed in operating repositories in the near future.

Following the research into stakeholder engagement at an early stage in the RD&D process and on an international basis, the concerns of stakeholders are better understood, as are the methods and advantages of engaging with them during the development of repository monitoring technologies. New innovative methods for including citizen stakeholders from the onset of RD&D programmes have been developed and tested.