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Chapter II Basic concept of the engineered barrier system and disposal facility 2.1 Basic safety concept 2.1.

1 Concept of geological disposal in Japan The multibarrier concept forms the basis for geological disposal concepts in most countries (OECD/NEA, 1991). The manufactured components of the multibarrier system constitute an engineered barrier system (EBS), consisting of a solid waste form (e.g. vitrified high-level radioactive waste (HLW) or spent fuel), an overpack (or container) and materials placed between the overpack and the surrounding rock during emplacement (backfill or buffer materials). In this system, the individual barriers have redundant safety functions in order to compensate for inevitable uncertainties in their long-term performance. However, they are not totally independent, in that the disposal system consists of passive components that act together in a complementary and compatible way. The present generic study considers a wide range of geological environments throughout Japan. In this context, an engineered barrier system (EBS) is selected with a high performance margin to cover the broad range of possible geological conditions. This approach reduces the requirements on the barrier functions of the geosphere, allowing a wide range of geological environments to be considered as candidate disposal sites. The Japanese multibarrier system is illustrated in Figure 2.1-1. When a potential disposal site is selected in the future, the optimum design for the engineered barrier system will be determined in the light of safety and economic considerations, which take into account the geological conditions specific to the site.
Vitrified Waste
(in stainless steel canister)

Containment of radionuclides in homogeneous glass matrix Low radionuclide release to groundwater due to high chemical durability Stable under thermal and radiation loads

Overpack
(Carbon steel) Physical containment of vitrified waste during the period of high heat generation and radiation field Ensures reducing conditions around the vitrified waste Sorption of radionuclides onto corrosion products

Buffer Geological Environment


Long-term stability avoiding
Volcanic activity Significant fault movement Significant effects due to uplift/denudation Significant effects due to climate/sea-level change Presence of natural resources Favorable geochemistry (e.g. chemically reducing) Low groundwater flux Rock mechanical stability Isolation from the human environment (Mixture of bentonite and sand) Low permeability Low solute diffusivity Retardation of radionuclide migration (Sorption) Swelling and plasticity Chemical buffering Low solubility of many radionuclides in porewater Filtration of colloids, organic matter and microbes

Favorable geological environment

Buffer Host Rock

Function as a natural barrier system


Retardation and dilution/dispersion of released radionuclides

Figure 2.1-1 The basic concept of geological disposal in Japan