Project deliverables

Theme Overview n°6: Siting and Licensing

The repository site must be fit for the purpose of the construction and operation of a waste repository which is safe for time periods of up to one million years. The site must also be accepted both nationally and locally as being suitable. Three requirements must be fulfilled: 
1.    the constructed waste repository must be safe;
2.    the stakeholders must agree to the location; and
3.    it must be possible to construct and operate the repository without undue difficulty.
Siting has the goal to find and confirm the suitability of the site(s). The siting process starts with collecting existing information about potentially suitable sites broadly (on a national scale, e.g., national geological screening). Gradually the process leads to only one or a few sites to be investigated leading to a site licence when more information has been collected and evaluated and the licensing process has been successfully terminated. Licensing has also the goal to obtain the acceptance by relevant stakeholders. The site licence may also include the construction licence based on a repository concept with all the needed details for the formal decision to construct and operate the repository. 
An overall plan for the entire process must be in place from the very beginning. This plan does not need to be detailed, but it must point out the important milestones and decision points and the activities needed to develop the material needed for decision-making. The level of detail will vary depending on the phase of implementation, and planning will typically focus in greater detail on the next step of siting. This plan should be a guide to the planning and execution of the on-going work and allow for flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances in the course of what could be a programme of work over many years. 
The site selection procedure typically starts with large regions (possibly country-wide) and areas. Regions with, for example, high population and/or unsuitable geology could be excluded in an early stage (based on national specific screening criteria). It is important to have a broadly accepted list of disqualifying factors or screening criteria developed at a national level with decision makers as part of an open and transparent siting process. Using existing information, one or more favourable areas will be identified (for example by using data from the national geological survey and/or groups that hold and publish information about population densities and national infrastructure requirements). In case that the information basis is not sufficient to narrow down, collection of additional regional data may be necessary. 
Site investigation is the activity within siting and licensing with critical importance and starts when you have arrived (on the basis of desk studies on a wider regional scale or available local information from other sources) at “one or more favourable locations”. It is through the gathered information that the entire process can be progressed towards finding and selecting the preferred site(s). Programmes typically aim for selecting one site for the disposal facility, but it cannot be guaranteed that a site will be identified with a large enough volume of suitable rock to take the entire inventory for disposal in one place, or that they would be able to make a safety case for the entire inventory at such a site. Hence, some national programmes may result in several facilities for disposing of different waste types (see theme 1??). 
Site investigation is an integral part and input to the overall disposal system development covering iterative cycles of: investigations, site evaluation, safety assessment, environmental impact, and design including developing a repository concept (in the early phase) and optimising the repository concept (during the construction and operations phase). Each one of the listed activities is linked with each other, requiring careful data, requirements, and configuration management. In this respect, site investigation needs to be carefully planned before it starts and aligned with regulatory licensing framework. The overall goal of licensing will become more focussed and evolve following the site investigation phase towards the application of the licence to construct the repository. During construction, characterisation work will continue. 

Theme Overview 6 Siting and LicensingPDF - 410.1 Ko