Key Topic 6: Monitoring


The siting and environmental approvals included in a licence application for construction, operation and/or closure of a geological disposal facility need data that partly originate from continuous or periodic observations and measurements.  Results of monitoring are also used to strengthen the safety cases (including the update of site models) and to continuously improve monitoring programmes.

Monitoring would be carried out during each step of the development and operation of the geological disposal facilities.  The objectives of monitoring programmes include providing baseline information for subsequent safety assessments, assurance of operational safety and operability of the facility, and confirmation that conditions are consistent with the requirements of post-closure safety.


The scope of this research area covers the development of:

  • Practical monitoring strategies, including techniques for implementation and monitoring strategies for site characterisation, facility construction and operation.
  • Monitoring strategies for current and future requirements for steps leading to closure of facilities in an operational disposal system. This also includes requirements for post-closure monitoring of the geological disposal system and monitoring of progress in relevant scientific and technological areas.

The 2011 IGD-TP Strategic Research Agenda identified three research topics of high importance and urgency and two of medium importance and urgency:

  • Topic 1 (High). Monitoring strategies and programmes for performance confirmation of the repository, including development of tools in support of decision-making using the recorded monitoring data.
  • Topic 2 (High). Availability of monitoring technologies and techniques.  State-of-the-art methodologies, technologies and potential techniques that can be used in expected repository conditions need to be available early enough to define the strategy and prepare all equipment for early disposals around 2020 to 2025.
  • Topic 3 (High). Monitoring of the environmental reference state. The pre-operational stage of repository development includes, among other activities, environmental assessment activities, which make use of monitoring.  Development of guidelines for defining the reference state would be beneficial and would help develop consistent levels of characterisation between projects in various waste management programmes.
  • Topic 4 (Medium). Monitoring of engineered barrier systems (EBS) during operations – determination of parameters for monitoring the EBS and the development of appropriate monitoring techniques and sensors.
  • Topic 5 (Medium). Post-closure monitoring – determination of conditions at closure and the possible parameters for monitoring during the post-closure stage until the end of institutional control, including the development of appropriate monitoring techniques (e.g. wireless transmission, large energy autonomy technologies).