Using deep boreholes for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) can take advantage of multiple geologic barriers as safety features and aims for the safe containment of radionuclides by containment-providing rock zones (CPRZ). The great depth efficiently prolongs or hinders radionuclide transport and also impedes proliferation. Finally, there may be a time benefit with regard to technical implementation and costs. Due to the phase-out from nuclear energy in Germany the number of boreholes could be less than 100. A simplified, generic safety concept, and the requirements for the diameter of boreholes and containers are derived in this paper. Furthermore, the operational safety of emplacement, the retrieval of waste and sealing of the boreholes is discussed. It is outlined that boreholes can be sealed quickly and over long distances with proven technologies, for example, using the creep properties of salt rock formations. This concept is assessed for its compliance with the safety requirements of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and the requirements and criteria for site selection defined by the German commission on “Storage of high-level radioactive waste”. The retrievability of HLRW is assessed to be technically feasible based on today´s knowledge, but recoverability after closure cannot be guaranteed for long time spans. Further developments in details of the concept of deep borehole disposal (DBD), a demonstration of its technical feasibility and an assessment of operational and long-term safety are still necessary to make DBD an approved option.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited