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Key Topic 3: Technical Feasibility and Long-term Performance

Overview

This research area involves RD&D activities for demonstrating and optimising technology and construction of a repository and its components.  This includes confirmation of a feasible and safe operational phase, as well as ensuring that the specified safety functions will be provided for the required time frame after repository closure.  Surface and underground works are included, as well as construction technologies for waste containers, buffer, backfill, plugs and seals.  This research area also includes understanding of the repository components long-term behaviour and the maintenance of their safety functions.

Objective

The first objective (a) for this research area is to demonstrate, to the level required by national licensing rules, that the technical design requirements based on safety of construction and operations, safety during the post-operational transient phase, and long-term safety after closure can be met in practice by available construction technologies and related working procedures.  This includes confirmation of repository components against pre-defined design specifications to determine their state before closure and extends to optimising operations and costs over the lifetime of a repository.

The second objective (b) is to demonstrate that the system will provide all the safety functions needed for the system as a whole to fulfil the long-term safety criteria.  This requires that the evolution of the engineered components and materials is sufficiently understood for actual repository conditions over the specified time frame.

Due to the relationship between technical design requirements and long-term performance requirements, these requirements must usually be defined iteratively.  In this context, robust design may be necessary to account for uncertainties.  Each component of the repository needs to fulfil the design criteria based on the specified safety functions of the repository and meet the qualifications defined in the regulations.