Long-term safety of radioactive waste disposal facilities relies on the longevity of natural or engineered barriers designed to minimize the migration of contaminants from the facility into the environment. Especially near surface disposal facilities, such as planned by ONDRAF/NIRAS for the Dessel site in Belgium, long-term safety relies almost exclusively on the containment ability of the engineered barriers (EB) with concrete being the most important EB material used. Concrete is preferred over other materials mainly due to its favourable chemical properties resulting in a high chemical retention capacity, and owing to its good hydraulic isolation properties. However, due to the long time frames typically involved in safety assessment, the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of concrete evolve in time. The alterations in concrete mineralogy also cause changes in pH and sorption behaviour for many radionuclides during chemical degradation processes. Application of dynamic sorption of concrete requires an adequate knowledge of long-term concrete degradation processes, knowledge of the effect of changing mineralogy to sorption of radionuclides and knowledge of large-scale system behaviour over time. Moreover, when applied to safety assessment models, special attention is required to assure robustness and transparency of the implementation. The discussion in this paper focuses on the sorption properties of concrete; selection of data, rescaling issues and on the hypotheses used to build a robust and yet transparent dynamic model for large-scale concrete structures for assessing the long-term performance.

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