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Tectonic and climatic considerations for deep geological disposal of radioactive waste: a UK perspective

McEvoy, F.M.; Schofield, D.I.; Shaw, R.P.; Norris, S.. 2016 Tectonic and climatic considerations for deep geological disposal of radioactive waste: a UK perspective. Science of The Total Environment, 571. 507-521. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.018

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Abstract/Summary

Identifying and evaluating the factors that might impact on the long-term integrity of a deep Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) and its surrounding geological and surface environment is central to developing a safety case for underground disposal of radioactive waste. The geological environment should be relatively stable and its behaviour adequately predictable so that scientifically sound evaluations of the long-term radiological safety of a GDF can be made. In considering this, it is necessary to take into account natural processes that could affect a GDF or modify its geological environment up to 1 million years into the future. Key processes considered in this paper include those which result from plate tectonics, such as seismicity and volcanism, as well as climate-related processes, such as erosion, uplift and the effects of glaciation. Understanding the inherent variability of process rates, critical thresholds and likely potential influence of unpredictable perturbations represent significant challenges to predicting the natural environment. From a plate-tectonic perspective, a one million year time frame represents a very short segment of geological time and is largely below the current resolution of observation of past processes. Similarly, predicting climate system evolution on such time-scales, particularly beyond 200 ka AP is highly uncertain, relying on estimating the extremes within which climate and related processes may vary with reasonable confidence. The paper highlights some of the challenges facing a deep geological disposal program in the UK to review understanding of the natural changes that may affect siting and design of a GDF.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.018
ISSN: 00489697
Date made live: 05 Dec 2016 15:38 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/515374

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