Key Technical Issues

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To help organize its review of the Yucca Mountain license application, the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has established nine key technical issues concerning the performance of the repository.

These topics are the most important to understanding the longterm capability of a repository at Yucca Mountain to protect public health, safety and the environment.

  1. Unsaturated and saturated zone flow under isothermal conditions: How does water move above and below a potential repository at Yucca Mountain?

  2. Thermal effects on flow: How does the heat generated by nuclear waste affect the movement of water in the immediate area of the potential repository?

  3. Container life and source term: How long do we expect the containers and waste forms to last? What will happen to the waste as the containers and waste forms wear away?

  4. Evolution of the near field environment: How do water and heat affect the chemical environment of the containers, waste forms, and the immediate area around the repository?

  5. Radionuclide transport: How do radioactive elements released from degraded waste move away from the repository?

  6. Repository design and thermal mechanical effects: How do engineering design, construction, and operation of a repository affect short- and long-term repository safety?

  7. Structural deformation and seismicity: How do geologic features and events, such as fractures and earthquakes, affect repository safety?

  8. Igneous activity: How likely is it that volcanic eruptions or igneous intrusions will disrupt the repository, and what would be the potential consequences to people and the environment?

  9. Total system performance assessment and integration: How will the entire system of engineered and natural barriers work together to retain waste so that the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain will comply with safety and environmental standards?

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