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Radiological aspects of handling high level waste in underground repositories

The project was a demonstration test which was performed by DBE and ANDRA/CEA in the Asse mine. The objective of this experiment was to investigate radiological aspects of handling spent fuel/high level waste in the drifts of an underground repository in a salt dome. As neutrons play an important role in the direct disposal option, main emphasis was laid on their contribution to total dose rate. Due to the narrow drift dimensions, backscattering of the neutrons from the drift walls had to be expected, thus increasing the dose rate for the operating personnel.

The experimental results showed that the intensity of neutron backscattering from the drift walls depends upon the drift cross section and the position of the cask within the drift. The equivalent dose rate in the near-field of the cask during underground handling was two to three times higher than above ground. Predictions performed with the Monte Carlo programmes MORSE, MCNP and TRIPOLI were in excellent agreement with the experimental findings. Thus, validated computer codes are available for future detailed repository planning with emphasis on minimising radiation exposure of the operating personnel.

Reported by

Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
76021 Karlsruhe
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