Human Intrusion in the context of Disposal of Radioactive Waste
Background & Human Intrusion
When considering radioactive waste to be disposed in near surface or deep geological disposal facilities we suppose that at least some of them will keep their hazardous properties several hundred years and even more. It means, that many generations from now, waste disposal sites will still need to be managed, but people could forget where they are “out of sight, out of mind, out of control”, or the control of the sites could be lost due to political changes (look at the map of Europe less than 300 years ago). However, the waste they contain could still be radioactive and dangerous. The possibility that future humans might interfere with disposal facilities can never be ruled out entirely.
For this reason, the international project HIDRA - Human Intrusion in the context of Disposal of Radioactive Waste - was launched in 2012.
Within this project human intrusion refers to human actions resulting in a direct disturbance of the area occupied by a disposal facility. Consistent with international standards and recommendations, the projects are limited to potential inadvertent intrusion for radioactive waste disposal facilities (e.g. someone unknowingly disrupts the facility).
This project addresses the regulatory and operational aspects of potential future inadvertent human intrusion into radioactive waste disposal facilities in the post closure phase - period after the facility is closed -, including both near surface and deep geological disposal facilities.
The HIDRA International project provides a forum to share information and to develop an approach for identifying and selecting scenarios and protective measures that are applicable at a disposal site, as well as improve preventive actions and communication about potential inadvertent intrusion.
An IAEA publication, developed through the phase I will be released detailing the methodology and a catalogue of measures for reducing both the likelihood and the radiological consequences associated with human intrusion. Another IAEA publication will be published after the phase II relating to the HIDRA II outcomes.
Within the first phase of the HIDRA project held from 2012 to 2014, the work was focused on considering relevant potential scenarios, societal factors, and protective measures. Participants developed guidance addressing future human actions in the safety case and safety assessment of radioactive waste disposal, and how to use those assessments to optimize siting, design and waste acceptance criteria within the context of a safety case. More information on the project results are available on the HIDRA Phase I webpage and directly on the Draft TECDOC.
Phase two of HIDRA began in 2016 to continue and improve the work accomplished during Phase I and further it through testing of the developed approach.
Like for the initialised phase, HIDRA II is also serving as a forum for regulators, operators, and other organizations to share information about approaches to consider human intrusion. The emphasis shifts to activities focused on practical implementation of the methods developed in the HIDRA I and documentation of specific examples.
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