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Accelerated implementation of database systems for a Geosphere Characterisation Programme

Baker, G.; Giles, J.R.A.. 2005 Accelerated implementation of database systems for a Geosphere Characterisation Programme. British Geological Survey, 28pp. (CR/05/169N) (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

Nirex is undertaking a Geosphere Characterisation Project that will demonstrate on the basis of designs and documents that: o if requested to do so, Nirex could implement a programme of geosphere characterisation; o it is practicable to characterise a site for the development and implementation of a phased geological disposal facility in the UK. The Geosphere Characterisation Project will support the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in assessing the viability of the Nirex Phased Disposal Concept. Variants to the Geosphere Characterisation Project designs and documents will also be provided. These will indicate how characterisation would vary if, on the basis of a Government decision or the recommendations of CoRWM, it was decided to develop a near-surface or deep interim storage facility for radioactive wastes rather than proceeding directly towards the development of a phased geological disposal facility. Data management will be a critical part of a Geosphere Characterisation Programme, in order to ensure that data are acquired in formats suitable for efficient processing, storage, and dissemination to all potential users. A British Geological Survey (BGS) awareness document (Baker, 2005) was designed to inform Nirex Programme and Project managers about a proposed method for design and implementation of an integrated database system to provide a central store for data holdings generated by a possible future Geosphere Characterisation Programme. Preliminary Nirex programming studies assumed that sites for detailed characterisation would be selected following a systematic geographical search process, including extended periods of consultation with key stakeholders. It was assumed that three and a half years would be required from commencement of the geographical search to the announcement, by Government, of the sites that would be investigated. It was further assumed that, following announcement of the sites for investigation, a year would be required to obtain planning permissions to undertake the investigations. Thus, four and a half years would elapse from commencement of the site selection process to commencement of investigations at the selected site(s). The studies also assume that approximately two and a half years would be required for implementation of the data management systems within the Programme. This includes time for: o Developing ideas about how to make information available to key stakeholders; o Developing the specifications for the Data System; o Procuring contracts for the design and implementation of the Data System; and o Building and testing the Data System. Such a period could readily be accommodated within the overall duration of the Programme and the activities would be undertaken in parallel with the site selection process. During subsequent discussions with the Nirex Directorate concerning possible programmes for implementing geosphere characterisation raised the question of possible implications if the time budgeted for the site selection process was reduced significantly. Such a situation could arise, for example, if a local community volunteered to host a repository. If site selection extent was reduced significantly and the planned Data System implementation programme retained, then the Data System might not be ready for the start of the investigations if the implementation commenced alongside the site selection process. Thus, either the start of the investigations would need to be delayed pending availability of the Data System or the investigations would need to commence before the Data System was available. The latter scenario was experienced during the Sellafield investigations, when the Nirex Digital Geoscience Database (NDGD) did not become functional until some five to six years after the start of the investigations. This created significant problems, most notably that information could not be made available to key stakeholders in a timely manner. Such failure to be forthcoming with information derived from the investigations is alien to the culture of openness and transparency that is now the accepted norm. Nirex has a clear preference for ensuring that the proposed Data System is functional (designed, built and tested) prior to commencement of data acquisition at any of the sites to be investigated. A number of possible approaches could be taken to ensure that the Data System is in place prior to commencement of the investigations and to remove their development from the critical path of the Programme. Possible approaches include: o Commence development of the Data System prior to instigation of the site selection process; or o Use the existing NDGD structure as the core of the Data System, adding whatever enhanced functionality is possible within the time available. Two alternative scenarios must be considered. Firstly, that it is decided to recommence investigations at the Longlands Farm Site near Sellafield and, secondly, that a decision is taken to study a new site, or new sites, not previously investigated. It is stressed that the above are hypothetical scenarios. The potential use of Sellafield data to populate any new database is for test purposes only. Their use does not indicate any intent on the part of Nirex to suggest that Sellafield, or any other site, should be selected for future characterisation. The decision on which sites to investigate will rest with Government.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Information Management
Funders/Sponsors: NIREX
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer-reviewed
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 28 Sep 2010 15:17
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/11320

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