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The International Intercomparison and Harmonisation Project on Demonstrating the Safety of Geological Disposal


The international intercomparison and harmonization project, the GEOSAF project ran from 2008 to 2011 to work towards harmonization of approaches for demonstrating the safety of geological disposal. The GEOSAF project held a special emphasis on the expectations of regulatory authorities engaged in the licensing process regarding the review of safety cases for geological disposal facilities, an aspect that has gained maturity in recent years from the development of key safety cases by Member States and is addressed in several international safety standards (e.g. SSR-5, GSR Part 5, SSG-14, GSG-3).

On the request of the participants to the initial project, a follow- up project of GEOSAF I has been developed and the inaugural meeting of the new project – GEOSAF Part II – was held in the IAEA headquarters from 19 to 23 March 2012. GEOSAF Part II began with the objective to reach a joint understanding and work towards harmonization of views and expectations regarding the treatment of safety for the operational period of geological disposal facilities. More specifically the approach taken in GEOSAF Part II is to address operational safety of geological disposal facilities within the context of the overall safety case that integrates both operational and post-closure aspects.


Until recently, Member States’ demonstrations of the safety of geological disposal facilities for radioactive waste (through safety assessments, safety cases, etc.) mainly addressed the post-closure period with less focus on the operational period, e.g. SSR-5. Though the safety during the operational period is to some extent considered in international safety standards for geological disposal facilities, the implications of operational safety on long-term safety for geological disposal have rarely been discussed.

A significant challenge in the development of a safety case for a geological disposal facility is to define the interface between the operational and post-closure safety regimes. The GEOSAF Part II project was established to address this issue and more specifically to elaborate on a structure and methodology to define an overarching safety case supporting the demonstration of safety of geological disposal, integrating both the operational and post-closure periods.


GEOSAF Part II provides a forum to exchange ideas and experience on the development and review of an integrated operational and post-closure safety case for geological disposal facilities. It also aims to provide a platform for knowledge transfer.


The three-year project involves an annual plenary meeting as well as several task-group activities. At each plenary meeting, the outcome from task-group activities conducted since the previous plenary meeting is discussed, as well as scope and contents of forthcoming activities.

Plenary Meetings

The first plenary meeting was held in March 2012 to discuss and plan the follow-up activities of the GEOSAF Part II project.

A second plenary meeting was held in May 2013. At this meeting, a draft technical document developed by the core group was presented on the integration of operational and long term safety in the safety case for geological disposal facilities for radioactive waste.

A third plenary meeting was held in May 2014 with the objective of further elaborating the technical document as IAEA-TECDOC, and also to discuss future activities. At the meeting, it was agreed to set up a specific task group to focus on operational safety.

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| Last update: Tuesday, 24 April, 2018.