Book Cover: Fifth WorldWide ReviewThe Energy Geosciences Division of Berkeley Lab has just released the Fifth Worldwide Review on International Approaches for Nuclear Waste Disposal in Geological Formations: Geological Challenges in Radioactive Waste Isolation. This book summarizes state-of-the-art radioactive waste disposal approaches in geological formations, with contributions from authors representing 23 countries.

Since the Fourth Worldwide Review in 2006, advances in technologies, disposal site assessments and selections, and civic involvement have led to substantial progress for several government programs, with some countries now building long-term radioactive waste disposal sites. The final, safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste has challenged governments, energy companies, and scientists around the world. Determining the safest underground sites and developing technologies to isolate all kinds of radioactive wastes have taken place over the past forty years, and are international in scope.

This review’s authors describe the status of scientific and technical advances as of December 2016, but also the often-complex interactions of government, law, and citizenry as national nuclear waste disposal programs were established. They also describe potential issues that may arise as repository programs mature, and identify techniques for sharing concepts on design and safety cases, which aid in promoting and gaining societal confidence in disposing nuclear wastes in deep geologic repositories. With better understanding of both the safety of modern approaches to deep geologic waste disposal and the increasing risks in the face of no long-term solution for nuclear wastes, the public perception of the growing need for and safety of long-term radioactive waste disposal becomes more accurate, and allows for greater acceptance.

The review also outlines problems in nuclear waste disposal in deep geological formations, and offers opportunities to learn from international assessments and perspectives on developing national radioactive waste disposal programs.

Where to get it?

You can now read this book online, chapter by chapter, or you can download the pdf.


The editors dedicate this review to Paul A. Witherspoon, who was the founder of the Earth Sciences Division (established in 1977) of Berkeley Lab. He also initiated the first review of national programs of nuclear waste disposal in deep geological formations in 1989, and edited and published the first four worldwide reviews. The review is also dedicated to the memory of Dr. Gudmundur “Bo” Bodvarsson, the former director of the Earth Sciences Division, and Leader of the Berkeley Lab’s Yucca Mountain project, which provided assessment of Yucca Mountain as a potential, nuclear waste disposal site.

Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology R&D Campaign, by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
International Approaches for Nuclear Waste Disposal in Geological Formations: Geological Challenges in Radioactive Waste Isolation—Fifth Worldwide Review
Editors: Boris Faybishenko (LBNL), Jens Birkholzer (LBNL), David Sassani (SNL) and Peter Swift (SNL).
Published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LBNL-1006984, DOI: 10.2172/1353043, December 2016.