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Reversibility: An Engineer's Point of View

Conference:

Abstract

Reversibility is the most consistent option in a democratic country. However reversibility may also have several drawbacks which must be identified and mitigated. Reversibility of a geological repository is a relatively new idea in France. The 1991 law dedicated to nuclear waste management considered reversibility as a possible option. Fifteen years later, the 2006 law mandated that a deep repository must be reversible and that the exact content of this notion should be defined by a new law to be discussed by the Parliament in 2015. Reversibility was not a concern put forward by engineers. It clearly originated from a societal demand sponsored and formulated by the Parliament. Since 1991, the exact meaning of this mandate progressively became more precise. In the early days, reversibility meant the technical and financial capability to retrieve the wastes from the repository, at least for some period of time after being emplaced. Progressively, a broader definition, suggested by Andra, was accepted: reversibility also means that a disposal facility should be operated in such a way that a stepwise decision-making process is possible. At each step, society must be able to decide to proceed to the next step, to pause or to reverse a step.  More>>
Authors:
Berest, Pierre [1] 
  1. LMS, ecole Polytechnique (France)
Publication Date:
Jul 01, 2012
Product Type:
Conference
Report Number:
NEA-6993
Resource Relation:
Conference: Reims 2010: An International Conference and Dialogue on Reversibility and Retrievability, Reims (France), 14-17 Dec 2010; Related Information: In: Reversibility and Retrievability in Planning for Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste. Proceedings of the 'R and R' International Conference and Dialogue| 238 p.
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; ARGILLITE; DAMAGE; DISTURBANCES; MONITORED RETRIEVABLE STORAGE; RADIATION PROTECTION; RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL; RECOMMENDATIONS; RISK ASSESSMENT; SAFETY; SITE CHARACTERIZATION; WASTE STORAGE
OSTI ID:
22094159
Research Organizations:
Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Nuclear Energy Agency - OECD/NEA, Le Seine Saint-Germain, 12 boulevard des Iles, F-92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux (France)
Country of Origin:
NEA
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
Other: ISBN 978-92-64-99185-9; TRN: XN1300187052604
Availability:
Available from INIS in electronic form
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
page(s) 183-184
Announcement Date:
May 09, 2013

Conference:

Citation Formats

Berest, Pierre. Reversibility: An Engineer's Point of View. NEA: N. p., 2012. Web.
Berest, Pierre. Reversibility: An Engineer's Point of View. NEA.
Berest, Pierre. 2012. "Reversibility: An Engineer's Point of View." NEA.
@misc{etde_22094159,
title = {Reversibility: An Engineer's Point of View}
author = {Berest, Pierre}
abstractNote = {Reversibility is the most consistent option in a democratic country. However reversibility may also have several drawbacks which must be identified and mitigated. Reversibility of a geological repository is a relatively new idea in France. The 1991 law dedicated to nuclear waste management considered reversibility as a possible option. Fifteen years later, the 2006 law mandated that a deep repository must be reversible and that the exact content of this notion should be defined by a new law to be discussed by the Parliament in 2015. Reversibility was not a concern put forward by engineers. It clearly originated from a societal demand sponsored and formulated by the Parliament. Since 1991, the exact meaning of this mandate progressively became more precise. In the early days, reversibility meant the technical and financial capability to retrieve the wastes from the repository, at least for some period of time after being emplaced. Progressively, a broader definition, suggested by Andra, was accepted: reversibility also means that a disposal facility should be operated in such a way that a stepwise decision-making process is possible. At each step, society must be able to decide to proceed to the next step, to pause or to reverse a step. Several benefits can be expected from a reversible repository. Some technical safety concerns may be only recognised after waste emplacement. Radioactive wastes may become a resource whose recoverability is desirable. Regulations may change, alternative waste treatment or better disposal techniques may be developed, or the need to modify a component of the facility may arise. Looking back at how chemical or domestic wastes were managed some 50 years ago easily underscores that it is not unreasonable to hope for significant advances in the future. For scientists and engineers, reversibility proves to have several other merits. To design and build a good repository, time is needed. The operator of a mine or of an oil field knows that exploration of a site is a long undertaking. Information has a cost: it is collected first through geophysical measurements performed at ground level, followed by the digging of exploration boreholes to provide more precise data. However, definite assessments of rock mass properties and behaviour often are available only after several years or decades of operation. Repository reversibility allows for the stepwise assessment of the state of knowledge, of the experience gained, of the data that still are missing, and it provides a sound basis for setting the agenda of the decisions to be taken. Reversibility also has several obvious drawbacks: - A reversible storage might be less robust; an older repository is becoming less safe and procrastination will become an issue. A reversible storage must be closed some day. Full freedom of choice must be left to future generations: they may decide, after due consideration, that indefinite storage is the best option, even if it is not the option we favour. Our duty, however, is to design a reversible repository in such a way that it can be closed - the safest option - if, some day, future generations judge that time has come. Reversibility and the safety of the workers and of the public during repository operation, and of future generations in the long term, are not inherently compatible. This possible contradiction requires that objectives be clearly ranked. The repository must be designed in such a way that it could cease to be reversible at some time. Repository closure must be prepared from the start. The safety of the workers and the public during the operational period must be ensured to a level at least equal to the standard required for any other nuclear facility. Once this condition is met, a reversible storage facility must be at least as safe as an irreversible storage facility would have been. Closure must be made possible, and the last word must be given to long-term safety.}
place = {NEA}
year = {2012}
month = {Jul}
}