Nuclear Energy and Waste


JAEA & NUMO—Science and Technology for Nuclear Waste Repository

The United States has bilateral agreements with the Atomic Energy Agency of Japan (JAEA) and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO). LBNL researchers collaborate with the researchers in these organizations to jointly improve the science of nuclear waste disposal. Japan is actively pursuing to establish the nuclear fuel cycle by developing a fast breeder reactor and reprocessing of spent fuels. There are many common scientific issues by solving which can benefit both countries. Below are brief descriptions of the cooperative programs with these two organizations:


The project couples the scientific expertise available in the United States with the data sets available in the Japanese High Level Nuclear Waste (HLW) program to further the science and technologies for nuclear waste repository and to contribute to the knowledgebase for global consumption. JAEA is currently constructing two underground rock laboratories: one at Horonobe in sedimentary rock and another at Mizunami in crystalline rock. In addition, JAEA has an advanced aboveground facility, ENTRY, to conduct large-scale laboratory experiments. Vast amount of quality data have been coming out from these facilities for site investigation program and PA, to which LBNL’s expertise and tools can be applied, tested and improved. LBNL has been conducting alternative analyses of those data. Furthermore, JAEA is undertaking the development of a new repository science knowledgebase. LBNL is contributing to the accumulation of the knowledgebase from its experience with the Yucca Mountain Program and elsewhere for global consumption.


NUMO and LBNL have recently concluded a collaborative study on the optimization of site investigation programs as part of an effort to evaluate testing and characterization technology from the performance assessment perspective. The study has identified the hydrologic properties of fault zones as one of the most important parameters that need to be evaluated during the preliminary investigation stage of site characterization for a geologic nuclear waste repository. Faults are 3-D structures and have contrasting hydrologic properties against the protolith and within themselves and control the hydrology in their vicinity. Thus it is very important, and at the same time, difficult to accurately characterize the fault zone hydrology. As the next phase of the collaborative project, NUMO and LBNL have now initiated a field project to develop an effective characterization methodology of fault zone hydrology. Various geophysical, geochemical, and hydrological characterization technologies are being tested at a fault site situated at LBNL.