BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT by FRANK L.PARKER

By FRANK L.PARKER

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All of the major rock structures and groundwater conditions were defined from surface and borehole observations before shaft construction began. Detailed geological structure can never be totally determined from surface information, however, and the final details of the facility design were modified to take account of information gathered during shaft construction. What are the risks and benefits of the two approaches? S. approach facilitates rigorous oversight and technical auditing. Its goals and standards are clear, and, if carried out according to specifications, this approach is robust in the face of administrative or legal challenge.

As modelers have become more aware of the processes they are attempting to model, they are also recognizing that the geological environment is more complex than originally thought and that quantitative prediction is correspondingly more difficult and uncertain. Many computer simulation models of geological environments are based on deterministic models that have been used successfully in branches of mechanics such as aerospace engineering, where the basic phenomena are much better defined. Such models are of limited value for the ill-defined, datalimited, long-term situations such as the repository isolation problem.

Several experts, however, have commented on the difficulty of applying classical hydrology models to the problem of radioactive waste isolation. Groundwater hydrologists are becoming increasingly aware that inadequate and insufficient data limit the reliability of traditional deterministic [distributedparameter] groundwater models. 10 To carry out these [repository flow] calculations, hydrogeologists are applying geostatistical models and stochastic simulation methods originally developed to assess piezometric response in near-surface unconsolidated aquifers over limited spatial distances and short time frames with relatively abundant data.

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