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selection have been documented on a step-by-step basis with the help of a range of geological and geophysical methods.

  • Two relatively monolithic blocks of rock with an area of 12–15 km2 have been identified.

  • Researchers have accumulated a significant volume of data necessary for subsequent engineering and geological work on the project with regard to construction of an underground research laboratory and later construction of the storage facility itself.

Based on data that has been gathered, an area encompassing the Kamenny and Itatsky sites has been announced as the site of more detailed preliminary prospecting work for the construction of an underground laboratory and the future waste burial site, and relevant materials have been submitted to the All-Russia Scientific Research and Design Institute for Industrial Technology in Moscow.

Because of a lack of financing, work on the study of the Kamenny and Itatsky sites is currently halted. However, in our opinion these sites, like the Nizhnekansk massif as a whole, remain insufficiently studied. Following is a list of the fundamental unresolved problems:

  • insufficient information on the geological structure of the massif and individual sites; no direct and unambiguous data on such fundamental characteristics as the strength of the granitoids, for example

  • no identification and study of fault, fracturability, and cataclasm zones and radiogeochemical and other characteristics of the main migration channels

  • insufficient assessment in barrier property studies of the role of secondary changes as a factor that could play both a positive and a negative role with regard to facility security

  • very little data on deep geological conditions and on the regime for transit and unloading of underground waters and gases

  • practically complete lack of isotopic geochemical research that would provide unique information on the condition of the lithospheric environment

  • lack of long-term geological-tectonic and geoecological forecasts regarding the area

Given the above points, it seems necessary (if financing is available) to continue comprehensive geological, hydrogeological, geophysical, and geochemical research aimed at providing a scientific basis for the selection of a specific site for the construction of an underground laboratory and subsequently the storage facility itself.

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