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Key Topic 5: Construction and Operational Safety


This research area deals with the protection of operators and members of the public that might possibly be affected by construction and operations in or at geological disposal facilities (e.g. construction, normal emplacement and other operating modes, closure, monitoring and active control).

Geological disposal installations are unique installations, where one needs to combine (amongst other requirements):

  • Nuclear engineering practice and radiation protection.
  • Classical industrial safety aspects.
  • Geotechnical and rock engineering in underground works (including practical mining experience when applicable).

Although regulations for each of the safety aspects exist (or might exist, as these can be dependent on national circumstance), there are not always clear integrated regulations available and between the different aspects conflicting requirements might even exist.  Although, designs and concepts differ from one waste management programme to another, it is clear that some construction and operational challenges have similarities that would benefit from co-operative research.


The purpose of this research area is to achieve consistency among the waste management organisations in areas such as methodological approaches, strategies, procedures, and reference values.

The 2011 IGD-TP Strategic Research Agenda identified one research topic of high importance and urgency and one of medium importance and urgency:

  • Topic 1 (High). Improved methodology, approaches and documentation on safety of construction and operations.  This should include:
    • Improved methodologies for the way to assess the risk with respect to safe working conditions.
    • The approach used for management of the risks during the construction and operational phase.
    • Further development of the documentation to be used to report on safety of construction and operations.
  • Topic 2 (Medium). Strategies to evaluate the impacts of construction and operational issues on the disposal system – developing strategies and evaluating the impact on long-term safety, design, complexity and cost of geological repositories for specific operational issues. For example, strategies to evaluate operational issues such as emergency plans, volatile radionuclides and their impacts on workers and the environment during the operational phase.