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JA4 : Monitoring the Environmental Reference state

SRA Key TopicSRA TopicSRA Topic priority
Monitoring (Topic 6 in the SRA)

Monitoring of the Environmental Reference State (Topic 6.3 in the SRA)



Define a guideline for a reference state of the environment and subsequent monitoring

Explanation of the contents of the activity

The goal of this Topic is to get a reference state of the environment before the beginning the construction works for the geological repository. The reference state will also be useful for further monitoring during operations and even after, thus keeping a memory of the original environmental state. However, depending on the sensitivities, different types and levels of requirements can be requested from a place to another. In order to avoid huge discrepancies and successive requests by comparing the situations among the countries, a common baseline of what is needed will be defined. It will then be the basis for further recommendations.

One can state that :

  • Work has been undertaken on this subject for graphite waste (LLW-LL) inside the "Carbonate" project (on-going characterization work inside European countries)
  • Work has also been undertaken on the carbon-14 content of metallic objects (ILW) (Andra)
  • Work has also been undertaken on LLW-SL other than graphite waste, such as ion exchange resins (SKB)

Comments received :

  • Confirm which wastes require detailed characterisation of C-14, as this may or may not be needed depending on the waste type and C-14 form. (NAGRA)
  • We have a preference to work on gaseous release of C-14. We have an active experimental programme on-going in this area to investigate the release of C-14 (g) from irradiated steel and graphite. We intend in the future to expand this programme to also consider reactive metals (e.g. irradiated uranium). Collaboration in this area would be excellent and is a very high priority work area within our own research programme. (NDA)

Short description of activity

Since it is a new area of work, a detailed discussion is needed among the parties to define precisely the scope of the project, the way of doing it, and the detailed products.

At first, a roadmap will be issued defining all of this. The idea would be to launch a technical project in 2013 to produce a reference publication/book and relevant guidelines. Further technical and/or scientific developments to answer specific requirements may also be envisaged.

The content of the work includes e.g.:

  • Defining a generic approach which will be pertinent for different types of projects and environments
  • Taking into consideration existing guidelines from NPP’s and mining operations (+ tailings). Check existing papers from IEAE and NEA.
  • Evaluating, on the basis of foreseen operations what will be the most impacted parameters of the environment.
  • Establishing a link with the monitoring system of the underground infrastructure.
  • Creating SRL (Surface research laboratories) on the model of URL’s starting with generic SRL’s.
  • Including health surveys.

Questions to be addressed are:

  • Where : The area to be observed and monitored
  • What : The compartments of the biosphere that should be monitored
  • What : The choice of the markers: biomarkers, biodiversity, quality of the environment…
  • How : The way the selection of the monitoring systems for the repository environment will be made (scientific, and technical criteria, social requirements)
  • Why : The definition of actions that should be adopted in order to contribute to the preservation of the environment
  • Why : The evaluation of the perturbations that could be induced during the exploitation phase
  • When : After the site selection and then as soon as possible.

Executive Group