Management’s (DOE-EM’s) cleanup program and, indeed, in any integrated waste management system. A conceptual diagram showing the important steps in DOE-EM’s waste-management system is provided in Figure 7.1. There are interdependencies among the steps in this system; moreover, decisions at each step can affect waste management options and activities at subsequent steps.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, 1995) addresses these interdependencies explicitly in Principle 8. Radioactive Waste Generation and Management Interdependencies, which states:1
Since the steps of radioactive waste management occur at different times, there are, in practice, many situations where decisions must be made before all radioactive waste management activities are established. As far as reasonably practicable, the effects of future radioactive waste management activities, particularly disposal [emphasis added], should be taken into account when any one radioactive waste management activity is being considered.
In the context of the present report, this principle suggests the need to consider waste form development and selection in the context of disposal system performance. The principle also explicitly recognizes that, although there are many steps and activities that can optimize the safety, capacity, schedule, and cost of a waste management system, all paths eventually lead to final disposal.
7.2 DISPOSAL SYSTEM PERFORMANCE
The National Research Council (NRC) has published numerous reports bearing on the performance of disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) (e.g., NRC, 1995), transuranic (TRU) waste (NRC, 1996), and low-level radioactive waste (LLW) (e.g., NRC, 2005), as well as specifically on the performance of disposal systems (e.g., NRC, 1983, 1990, 2003). The NRC Committee on Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain Standards (NRC, 1995, p. 70) provided the following definition for disposal system performance, which, as noted previously, is usually referred to as performance assessment (PA):
The only way to evaluate the risks of adverse health effects and to compare them with the [Environmental Protection Agency] standard is to assess the
1 This same principle to consider interdependencies in waste management operations and disposal is part of the Chapter 2, Article 4.iii of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, of which the United States is a signatory.