Strategic choices in the Belgian supercontainer design and its treatment in a safety case

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In Belgium, geological disposal in plastic clay is the reference solution to the safe long-term management of high-level and long-lived radioactive waste. Boom Clay is currently considered the reference formation for hosting a geological repository. Up to 2004, the reference engineered barrier design for vitrified high-level waste and spent fuel consisted of galleries in which the waste was placed in a central steel disposal tube and the remaining space backfilled by bentonite blocks. In recent years there has been a re-evaluation of the reference design, and the Belgian waste management agency ONDRAF/NIRAS now opts for a design based on a carbon steel overpack surrounded by a concrete buffer made of Ordinary Portland Cement. The use of massive amounts of cementitious materials in the repository imposes a high alkaline environment which ensures passivation of the carbon steel overpack. Moreover, the use of Supercontainers as separate shielded entities should facilitate underground operations for the workforce. This paper further explains the drivers of this design option and the implications of this so-called Supercontainer design in terms of long-term radiological safety.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCementitious materials in safety cases for geological repositories for radioactive waste: role, evolution and interactions.
Place of PublicationParis, France
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
EventCementitious Materials in Safety Cases for Geological Repositories for Radioactive Waste: Role, Evolution and Interactions - NEA IGSC, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 17 Nov 200920 Nov 2009

Publication series

NameNEA/RWM report


ConferenceCementitious Materials in Safety Cases for Geological Repositories for Radioactive Waste: Role, Evolution and Interactions


  • safety concept, safety functions, repository design, engineered barrier system, cement, concrete, safety assessment

ID: 72495