skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The Application of Performance Assessment to Make Regulatory and Operational Changes in an Operating Nuclear Waste Repository

Abstract

This paper describes how performance assessment (PA) is used to support changes to the regulatory basis of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The WIPP, located near Carlsbad, New Mexico is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the nation's only deep geologic repository for the disposal of transuranic nuclear waste. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified that the WIPP met the performance requirements of 40 CFR Part 191, Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level and Transuranic Radioactive Wastes. A PA analysis of long term (10,000 year) repository performance successfully demonstrated that the probability and consequences of potential long-term releases of radionuclides to the accessible environment would be well below the established limits. These results were key in obtaining WIPP's initial certification, allowing the first shipment and disposal of nuclear waste in March of 1999. As disposal operations have taken place over the last eight years, changes have been identified in the regulatory and operational realms of the facility that would enhance waste disposal efficiency. Such changes, however, cannot be made without prior consent of the EPA. Therefore, changes planned by the DOE must be thoroughly described and supportedmore » by varying degrees of the same type of analyses that were conducted to demonstrate the WIPP's containment capabilities as presented in the initial compliance application submitted to EPA in 1996. Such analyses are used to identify the impacts or benefits of implementing the planned change. The DOE has successfully used performance assessment analyses for the approval of changes such as: 1) the disposal of super-compacted waste forms, and; 2) the adoption of new parameters and modeling assumptions In some cases the planned changes are simpler in nature than those listed above, and therefore only require targeted or simplified PA analyses to demonstrate the effect on performance. Targeted analyses have been used to successfully gain approval of the following: 1) a reduction in the amount of magnesium oxide (MgO) chemical buffer backfill that must be emplaced in the repository 2) a change in the repository mining/disposal horizon In addition to these approved changes, the DOE has used PA analyses to support the following planned change requests that await EPA's approval: 1) panel closure redesign 2) further reduction in the MgO-to-waste ratio Finally, this paper will discuss some of the changes that the DOE is currently preparing and plans to submit to the EPA for approval in the near future. This paper will describe how a set of analytical tools initially used to open the WIPP continues to have a role in making the repository more efficient and adaptable as variations in waste streams, operational demands, and other dynamic forces change the operating environment over time. (authors)« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, NM (United States)
  2. John Hart and Associates, P.A., Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9 - 332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
21323106
Report Number(s):
INIS-US-10-WM-08339
TRN: US10V0548064297
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM'08: Waste Management Symposium 2008 - HLW, TRU, LLW/ILW, Mixed, Hazardous Wastes and Environmental Management - Phoenix Rising: Moving Forward in Waste Management, Phoenix, AZ (United States), 24-28 Feb 2008; Other Information: Country of input: France; 24 refs
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; MAGNESIUM OXIDES; PERFORMANCE; RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL; RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT; REGULATIONS; SPENT FUELS; US EPA; WASTE FORMS; WIPP

Citation Formats

Patterson, R, and Kirkes, R. The Application of Performance Assessment to Make Regulatory and Operational Changes in an Operating Nuclear Waste Repository. United States: N. p., 2008. Web.
Patterson, R, & Kirkes, R. The Application of Performance Assessment to Make Regulatory and Operational Changes in an Operating Nuclear Waste Repository. United States.
Patterson, R, and Kirkes, R. Tue . "The Application of Performance Assessment to Make Regulatory and Operational Changes in an Operating Nuclear Waste Repository". United States.
@article{osti_21323106,
title = {The Application of Performance Assessment to Make Regulatory and Operational Changes in an Operating Nuclear Waste Repository},
author = {Patterson, R and Kirkes, R},
abstractNote = {This paper describes how performance assessment (PA) is used to support changes to the regulatory basis of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The WIPP, located near Carlsbad, New Mexico is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the nation's only deep geologic repository for the disposal of transuranic nuclear waste. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified that the WIPP met the performance requirements of 40 CFR Part 191, Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level and Transuranic Radioactive Wastes. A PA analysis of long term (10,000 year) repository performance successfully demonstrated that the probability and consequences of potential long-term releases of radionuclides to the accessible environment would be well below the established limits. These results were key in obtaining WIPP's initial certification, allowing the first shipment and disposal of nuclear waste in March of 1999. As disposal operations have taken place over the last eight years, changes have been identified in the regulatory and operational realms of the facility that would enhance waste disposal efficiency. Such changes, however, cannot be made without prior consent of the EPA. Therefore, changes planned by the DOE must be thoroughly described and supported by varying degrees of the same type of analyses that were conducted to demonstrate the WIPP's containment capabilities as presented in the initial compliance application submitted to EPA in 1996. Such analyses are used to identify the impacts or benefits of implementing the planned change. The DOE has successfully used performance assessment analyses for the approval of changes such as: 1) the disposal of super-compacted waste forms, and; 2) the adoption of new parameters and modeling assumptions In some cases the planned changes are simpler in nature than those listed above, and therefore only require targeted or simplified PA analyses to demonstrate the effect on performance. Targeted analyses have been used to successfully gain approval of the following: 1) a reduction in the amount of magnesium oxide (MgO) chemical buffer backfill that must be emplaced in the repository 2) a change in the repository mining/disposal horizon In addition to these approved changes, the DOE has used PA analyses to support the following planned change requests that await EPA's approval: 1) panel closure redesign 2) further reduction in the MgO-to-waste ratio Finally, this paper will discuss some of the changes that the DOE is currently preparing and plans to submit to the EPA for approval in the near future. This paper will describe how a set of analytical tools initially used to open the WIPP continues to have a role in making the repository more efficient and adaptable as variations in waste streams, operational demands, and other dynamic forces change the operating environment over time. (authors)},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/21323106}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2008},
month = {7}
}

Conference:
Other availability
Please see Document Availability for additional information on obtaining the full-text document. Library patrons may search WorldCat to identify libraries that hold this conference proceeding.

Save / Share: