Geotechnology, final disposal of radioactive waste
Radioactive materials perform valuable services in energy generation, medicine, measurement technology and other applications. Using radioactive materials, however, generates radioactive wastes which can endanger man and the environment due to their ionising radiation.
In order to protect man and the environment, the isolation of radioactive wastes from the biosphere by final disposal in deep geologic formations is planned. ‘Final disposal’ means the secure and maintenance-free disposal of radioactive waste for an unlimited period of time without any intention of retrieving it.
The Federal Office for Radiation Protection is responsible for the erection and operation of radioactive waste repositories. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources works on geo-scientific and geotechnical issues in this repository projects, especially the geological exploration of locations, the petrophysical characterisation of the host rock and the analyses of future scenarios for long-term security.
Further activities of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources in the field of geotechnology consist of the technical and constructive application of expert knowledge on rock and soil mechanics and engineering geology in the fields of mining and civil engineering. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources is mainly active during the planning phase of the extraction of raw materials from the ground, for example, by the solution mining of salt caverns, but also during the operational or post-operation phase, for example when assessing the mining situation of underground military repositories employed over a long time.
The status of science and technology has to be taken into account in all issues relating to radioactive waste repositories. Therefore Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources scientists actively develop this status of science and technology by their own research and development activities. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources has specialised in thermomechanical and hydraulic behaviour of rocks and rock masses with the main focus on applications in rock and soil engineering.