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Update of German safeguards concepts for different host rocks

Demonstration test for emplacement of a POLLUX® cask

Due to its membership in the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and its signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Germany is obliged to ensure that nuclear material will only be used for peaceful purposes. This will be accomplished with safeguards measures that will ensure that nuclear material will not be diverted for non-peaceful usage and that the basic technical characteristics of the facilities for the production, separation or other applications of nuclear material have to be verified.

Spent nuclear fuel belongs to such nuclear material that has to be monitored for safeguards purposes. For this reason, the disposal concepts have to include safeguards measures. A concept for the safeguards in a repository in Germany was developed for the emplacement of POLLUX® casks in horizontal drifts in the host rock salt. At that time, retrieval of the POL-LUX® casks was not considered. Since 2010, when the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety issued the safety requirements for the final disposal of heat-generating radioactive waste, retrieval of the casks during the operating phase of a repository and recovery of the casks 500 years after closure have to be considered.

In autumn 2014, Forschungszentrum Jülich on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy contracted DBE TECHNOLOGY GmbH with the R&D project FORBAS to update and refine the safeguards reference concept for the direct disposal of spent fuel for the host rocks salt, clay, and hard rock. Furthermore, the applicability of this concept to other emplacement concepts, e.g. the emplacement of transport and storage casks in horizontal boreholes, has to be considered. This will be based on analyses of safeguards developments for repository projects both nationally and internationally. In FORBAS, the impacts of retriev-ability and recovery of casks on the safeguards concept and resulting requirements will be analysed for the different emplacement concepts and host rocks. 

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