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Hardie S.M.L.,MCM Consulting | McKinley I.G.,MCM Consulting | Lomperski S.,Argonne National Laboratory | Kawamura H.,Obayashi Corporation | Beattie T.M.,Orchard Street Business Center
Progress in Nuclear Energy | Year: 2015

The loss of core cooling for units 1-3 during the accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi caused major fuel damage. Although full details are not yet available, fuel melting produced corium within the reactor pressure vessels that has, to an unknown degree, melted through into the primary containment. The present priority is cooling the damaged reactors and managing contaminated water, but planning of longer term decommissioning has already begun. Management of highly damaged fuel and corium will be of primary concern, with the main options being recovery for reprocessing or packaging for direct disposal. Although the latter option may have significant cost advantages, it presents some novel safety challenges for both operational and post-closure phases. Concerns include criticality management and modelling of long-term dissolution of materials having highly variable composition. Further R&D is required to fill knowledge gaps - of which the most sensitive may involve determination of the extent to which small "hot particles" of corium have been produced. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

McKinley I.G.,MCM Consulting | Kawamura H.,Obayashi Corporation | Hardie S.M.L.,MCM Consulting | Klein E.,MCM Consulting | Beattie T.M.,Orchard Street Business Center
Swiss Journal of Geosciences | Year: 2015

Natural analogues have been previously used to support the safety case for direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel, but the focus of such work was very dependent on the key barriers of specific national disposal concepts. Investigations of the feasibility of such disposal in Japan are at an early stage but, nevertheless, it is clear that building a robust safety case will be very challenging and would benefit from focused support from natural analogue studies—both in terms of developing/testing required models and, as importantly, presenting safety arguments to a wide range of stakeholders. This paper identifies key analogues that support both longevity and spread of failure times of massive steel overpacks, the effectiveness of buffering of radiolytic oxidants and the chemical and physical mechanisms retarding release of radionuclides from the engineered barriers. It is concluded that, for countries like Japan where performance needs to be assessed as realistically as possible, natural analogues can complement the existing laboratory and theoretical knowledge base and contribute towards development of a robust safety case. © 2015, Swiss Geological Society.

Chapman N.,MCM Consulting | Berryman K.,Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences | Villamor P.,Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences | Epstein W.,Lloyd's Register | And 2 more authors.
Eos | Year: 2014

The destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) following the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami brought into sharp focus the susceptibility of NPPs to natural hazards. This is not a new issue - seismic hazard has affected the development of plants in the United States, and volcanic hazard was among the reasons for not commissioning the Bataan NPP in the Philippines [Connor et al., 2009]. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Alexander W.R.,Bedrock Geosciences | Reijonen H.M.,Saanio & Riekkola Oy | McKinley I.G.,MCM Consulting
Swiss Journal of Geosciences | Year: 2015

The geological disposal of radioactive wastes is generally accepted to be the most practicable approach to handling the waste inventory built up from over 70 years accumulation of power production, research–medical–industrial and military wastes. Here, a brief overview of the approach to geological disposal is presented along with some information on repository design and the assessment of repository post-closure safety. One of the significant challenges for repository safety assessment is how to extrapolate the likely long-term (i.e. ten thousand to a million years) behaviour of the repository from the necessarily short term data from analytical laboratories and underground rock laboratories currently available. One approach, common to all fields of the geosciences, but also in such diverse fields as philosophy, biology, linguistics, law etc., is to utilise the analogue argumentation methodology. For the specific case of radioactive waste management, the term ‘natural analogue’ has taken on a particular meaning associated with providing supporting arguments for a repository safety assessment. This approach is discussed here with a brief overview of how the study of natural (and, in particular, geological) systems can provide supporting information on the likely long-term evolution of a deep geological waste repository. The overall approach is discussed and some relevant examples are presented, including the use of uranium ore bodies to assess waste form stability, the investigation of native metals to define the longevity of waste containers and how natural clays can provide information on the stability of waste tunnel backfill material. © 2015, Swiss Geological Society.

Goto J.,NUMO | Kawamura H.,Obayashi Corporation | Chapman N.,MCM Consulting
Proceedings of the International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation, ICEM | Year: 2013

This paper describes the development of a probabilistic methodology for the evaluation of tectonic hazards to geological repositories in Japan. The approach is a development of NUMO's ITM methodology, which produced probabilistic hazard maps for volcanism and rock deformation for periods up to about 100,000 years in a set of Case Studies that covered a large area of the country. To address potential regulatory requirements, the TOPAZ project has extended the ITM methodology to look into the period between 100,000 and 1 million years, where significant uncertainties begin to emerge about the tectonic framework within which quantitative forecasting can be made. Part of this methodology extension has been to adopt expert elicitation techniques to capture differing expert views as a means of addressing such uncertainties. This paper briefly outlines progress in this development work to date. Copyright © 2013 by ASME.

Kowe R.,Radioactive Waste Management | Delay J.,Agence National pour la Gestion des Dechets Radioactifs | Hammarstrom M.,Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB | Beattie T.,MCM Consulting | Palmu M.,Posiva Oy
Mineralogical Magazine | Year: 2015

The Implementing Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste Technology Platform (IGD-TP) was launched in November 2009 to facilitate international cooperation in common areas of research, development and demonstration (RD&D) with a view to advancing the implementation of geological disposal facilities for spent fuel, high-level and other long-lived waste in Europe. The IGD-TP's Vision is that "by 2025, the first geological disposal facilities for spent fuel, high-level waste and other long-lived radioactive waste will be operating safely in Europe". Aside from most European waste management organisations, the IGD-TP currently has 124 members covering most of the RD&D actors in the field of implementing geological disposal of radioactive waste in Europe.. Five years after its inception, the IGD-TP has been shown to play a leading role in coordinating joint actions for RD&D in radioactive waste geological disposal programmes. The work of the platform takes into account differences between the timing and challenges for the respective waste management programmes. Following implementation of Posiva's geological disposal facility in Finland it is expected that within the next 5 years the construction of the Swedish and French geological disposal facilities will commence. Within IGD-TP, the SecIGD2 project whose remit is "Coordination and Support Action under the 7th Framework programme" aims at supporting, at the European level, the networking and structuring of RD&D programmes and competences in countries with less advanced geological disposal programmes, including those in the new European Union Member States. Furthermore, the SecIGD2 supports the development and coordination of the necessary competences to meet the Vision 2025 as a part of the platform's Competence Maintenance, Education and Training (CMET) working group. © 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.

McCombie C.,MCM Consulting | Jefferson M.,ESCP Europe
Energy Policy | Year: 2016

Given the widely acknowledged negative impacts of fossil fuels, both on human health and on potential climate change, it is of interest to compare the impacts of low carbon alternative energy sources such as nuclear energy, hydropower, solar, wind and biomass. In this paper, we review the literature in order to summarise the impacts of the different technologies in terms of their materials and energy requirements, their emissions during operation, their health effects during operation, the accident risks, and the associated waste streams. We follow up these comparisons with some more anecdotal evidence on selected impacts that are either particularly topical or are important but less commonly addressed. These include impacts of wind turbines on persons and on bird life, the underestimated problems with biomass, and concerns about biodiversity reduction. Finally we address the public attitudes towards both renewable energy technologies and to nuclear power. The conclusion is drawn that energy policies of many countries are perhaps more strongly influenced by public and political perceptions of available technologies than they are by rational assessment of the actual benefits and drawbacks. Policy recommendations follow from this conclusion. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Felipe-Sotelo M.,Loughborough University | Edgar M.,Loughborough University | Beattie T.,MCM Consulting | Warwick P.,Enviras Ltd. | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Hazardous Materials | Year: 2015

The influence of anthropogenic organic complexants (citrate, EDTA and DTPA from 0.005 to 0.1M) on the solubility of nickel(II), thorium(IV) and uranium (U(IV) and U(VI)) has been studied. Experiments were carried out in 95%-saturated Ca(OH)2 solutions, representing the high pH conditions anticipated in the near field of a cementitious intermediate level radioactive waste repository. Results showed that Ni(II) solubility increased by 2-4 orders of magnitude in the presence of EDTA and DTPA and from 3 to 4 orders of magnitude in the case of citrate. Citrate had the greatest effect on the solubility of Th(IV) and U(IV)/(VI). XRD and SEM analyses indicate that the precipitates are largely amorphous; only in the case of Ni(II), is there some evidence of incipient crystallinity, in the form of Ni(OH)2 (theophrastite). A study of the effect of calcium suggests that U(VI) and Ni(II) may form metal-citrate-OH complexes stabilised by Ca2+. Thermodynamic modelling underestimates the concentrations in solution in the presence of the ligands for all the elements considered here. Further investigation of the behaviour of organic ligands under hyperalkaline conditions is important because of the use of the thermodynamic constants in preparing the safety case for the geological disposal of radioactive wastes. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

McCombie C.,MCM Consulting | Chapman N.,MCM Consulting | Kickmaier W.,MCM Consulting | Scourse E.,MCM Consulting
14th International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, IHLRWMC 2013: Integrating Storage, Transportation, and Disposal | Year: 2013

Waste management issues other than the safe handling and storage of operational radioactive wastes tended to be postponed or neglected during the early phases of using nuclear technologies. This is true, in particular, for the challenge of planning for final disposal of long-lived wastes from nuclear power production. Today, there are countries preparing for the large scale introduction or expansion of nuclear energy in order to expand carbon-free production of electricity. For example, the UAE has started construction on the first of 8 planned reactors, Saudi Arabia is considering a 16 GWe programme and China intends a massive expansion. These countries have an opportunity to plan from the outset an integrated back-end program that considers all relevant facilities and activities required for waste production, treatment, storage, transport, packaging and disposal. We have been involved in various strategic planning initiatives aimed at optimizing the back-end of the fuel cycle in countries with new or expanding nuclear programmes. Our approach has been to consider a series of key questions related to all of the waste management activities mentioned above. For each of these activities, and for each waste stream, the questions are: • What wastes arise? • How will these be treated, characterised, stored and disposed? • Where should the necessary facilities be located? • When is the optimal time to bring each type of facility on line? The strategic analyses consider all nuclear options kept open by the country in question. These can include direct disposal of spent fuel, reprocessing (foreign or domestically), early or late disposal of wastes, separated or co-located storage, conditioning and disposal facilities, and purely national facilities or the use of shared regional stores or repositories. Key outputs from such assessments are a compilation of key decision points and a roadmap extending out for many decades. The paper describes the assessment methodology that we have used and outlines high-level recommendations for new waste management programmes.

Kickmaier W.,MCM Consulting | McCombie C.,MCM Consulting | McKinley I.G.,MCM Consulting | Scourse E.M.,MCM Consulting
14th International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, IHLRWMC 2013: Integrating Storage, Transportation, and Disposal | Year: 2013

Since the early years of deep geological disposal programmes Underground Rock Laboratories (URLs) have been key components of national programmes. The strategic roles of URLs and the advantages of gaining practical experience through underground testing can be traced back to the earliest waste management initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s. Many national URL programmes moved towards international projects to support the large investments, with waste management organisations, regulators and specialized contractors contributing. Finally URLs are valuable tools for transparently communicating to the public the high-tech nature of state-of-the-art geological disposal. With disposal concepts becoming more mature and a few waste management organisations heading towards licence applications, one might question the cost-benefit of further use of such expensive underground facilities. Will countries near to implementation of a repository (e.g. Sweden and Finland) require further work in their URLs? Do major programmes that have never implemented a URL (e.g. the UK) still have any requirement for a national URL, or for access to a foreign URL? The clear answer to such questions is "yes" and the reasons form the basis for this paper providing an overview on the evolution of URL programmes and outlining some considerations for new demonstration programmes providing key contribution within a licensing process.

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