Planning to ‘remember to forget’?
Disposal in deep geological formations aims to provide isolation of long-lived radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years. This raises the question of the long-term governance of the repository throughout its lifetime. In the operational phase the repository is under active regulatory control. Once closed, there will be a phase of passive management control or indirect oversight. This will be followed, at some time in the future, by a period in which there is no oversight. This may be a result of a decision to cease management control or it may occur through loss of records or a change in priorities. The importance of the main exposure scenarios (exposure as a result of the gradual transport of radionuclides in groundwater, transport of radionuclides in gas, and exposure arising from inadvertent intrusion into the repository) are discussed with reference to these different phases. An interesting question is ‘How do we minimize the risk of inadvertent intrusion in the far future?’ Perhaps it is better to ensure that the repository is forgotten and should we try to plan for this? The different approaches are discussed and the importance of deciding on a strategy at an early stage is emphasized.