In the United Kingdom the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has been charged with implementing Government policy for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste. The UK Government is leading a site selection process based on voluntarism and partnership with local communities interested in hosting such a facility and as set out in the ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely’ White Paper (2008). The NDA has set up the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) as the body responsible for planning, building and operating a geological disposal facility (GDF). RWMD will develop into a separately regulated Site Licence Company (SLC) responsible for the construction, operation and closure of the facility. RWMD will be the Design Authority for the GDF; requiring a formal process to ensure that the knowledge and integrity of the design is maintained. In 2010 RWMD published ‘Geological Disposal - Steps towards implementation’ which described the preparatory work that it is undertaking in planning the future work programme, and the phases of work needed to deliver the programme. RWMD has now developed a process for the design of the GDF to support this work. The engineering design process follows a staged approach, encompassing options development, requirements definition, and conceptual and detailed designs. Each stage finishes with a ‘stage gate’ comprising a technical review and a specific set of engineering deliverables. The process is intended to facilitate the development of the most appropriate design of GDF, and to support the higher level needs of both the project and the community engagement programmes. The process incorporates elements of good practices derived from other work programmes; including process mapping, issues and requirements management, and progressive design assurance. A set of design principles have been established, and supporting design guidance notes are being produced. In addition a requirements management system is being implemented for the identification, capture, analysis, update, verification, validation and acceptance of requirements for the GDF. This is to ensure that there are traceable links between requirements, and to identify and record the verification/validation of individual requirements. This paper describes the engineering design process and the supporting documents, systems and procedures. The paper addresses the relationship to the geological disposal programme timeline in ‘Geological Disposal - Steps towards implementation’ and, from there, to the UK Government ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely’ Programme. It also describes the next steps in the development of the design process, and some of the lessons learnt to date.

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