The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has established a project to undertake research relevant to the safety case for the proposed Australian radioactive waste facility. This facility will comprise a store for intermediate level radioactive waste, and either a store or a near-surface repository for low-level waste. In order to identify the research priorities for this project, a structured analysis of the features, events and processes (FEPs) relevant to the performance of the facility was undertaken. This analysis was based on the list of 137 FEPs developed by the IAEA project on ‘Safety Assessment Methodologies for Near Surface Disposal Facilities’ (ISAM). A number of key research issues were identified, and some factors which differ in significance for the store, compared to the repository concept, were highlighted. For example, FEPs related to long-term ground-water transport of radionuclides are considered to be of less significance for a store than a repository. On the other hand, structural damage from severe weather, accident or human interference is more likely for a store. The FEPs analysis has enabled the scientific research skills required for the interdisciplinary project team to be specified. The outcomes of the research will eventually be utilised in developing the design, and assessing the performance, of the future facility. It is anticipated that a more detailed application of the FEPs methodology will be undertaken to develop the safety case for the proposed radioactive waste management facility.

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