Performance assessment of radioactive waste repositories

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Science  18 Mar 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4846, pp. 1389-1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.3279510


The current plans for permanent disposal of radioactive waste call for its emplacement in deep underground repositories mined from geologically stable rock formations. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have established regulations setting repository performance standards for periods of up to 10,000 years after disposal. Compliance with these regulations will be based on a performance assessment that includes (i) identification and evaluation of the likelihood of all significant processes and events that could affect a repository, (ii) examination of the effects of these processes and events on the performance of a repository, and (iii) estimation of the releases of radionuclides, including the associated uncertainties, caused by these processes and events. These estimates are incorporated into a probability distribution function showing the likelihood of exceeding radionuclide release limits specified by regulations.