Site Selection Study for Conceptual Design of a Deep Underground Radioactive Waste Repository in Australia

J. Duncan, T. Prest, B. Keogh, J. Frazer, N. Melkoumian, and C. Xu (Australia)

Keywords

Radioactive Waste Repository, Solute Transport

Abstract

The management of radioactive waste has become a significant challenge for mankind as nuclear technology becomes increasingly commonplace. Many studies find Australia to be the ideal location to host a deep geological repository for permanent storage of high level radioactive waste (HLW). Despite ventures like the Pangea Resources study proposing a deep geological HLW repository in Australia, ardent political and social opposition has halted any real progress thus far. Researchers and industry experts are yet to identify a suitable location within Australia to host such a project. This paper presents a site selection study to identify and analyse a suitable location within Australia to host a deep geological HLW repository. Following the selection of a suitable site at Maralinga (site coordinates: 132° 30’ 0 E, 29° 30’ 0 S), core samples have been identified and inspected. This allowed for a suitable repository design to be chosen to match the geological conditions. A corresponding fracture network has been developed using FracMan and a solute transport simulation has been carried out to test the hydraulic performance of the site. This study indicates that the bedrock around the above mentioned coordinates is suitable for retarding radionuclide migration over a significant time period. Following the fracture modelling, a repository design for the considered geological conditions has been identified. Three dimensional finite element stress analysis has been conducted to verify the suitability of the chosen repository design for the geological conditions at Maralinga.

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