Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-qs9v7 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-15T06:47:41.502Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Risks and Uncertainties Associated With High-Level Waste Tank Closure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2011

David W. Esh
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555, U.S.A.
Anna H. Bradford
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555, U.S.A.
Kristina L. Banovac
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555, U.S.A.
B. Jennifer Davis
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555, U.S.A.
Get access


Closure of tanks containing high-level radioactive waste (HLW) is a challenging problem involving potentially competing influences from economic, societal, and technological considerations. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is faced with protecting public health and the environment while making economically responsible decisions. Risk (i.e., annual dose) is becoming more prominent as DOE's metric to evaluate the economic consequences of its decisions. Risks are assessed through modeling and calculations commonly known as performance assessment (PA). In the process of tank closure, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is typically consulted to perform an independent review of DOE's PAs.

The NRC staff developed a generic PA model, applicable to HLW tank closure, which NRC utilizes to complete its independent review. The model was developed using the generic simulation software, GoldSim, because of its probabilistic capabilities and its adaptability to different problems [1]. The NRC staff uses the resultant risk from the generic models to evaluate the reasonableness of performance assessment models submitted by DOE. Large differences in the estimates of risk between the generic PA model and the DOE PA would likely indicate a need for stronger technical basis for processes significantly contributing to annual dose (risk) reduction.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2003

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



1. Kossik, R.F., Miller, I., and Knopf, S., GoldSim Graphical Simulation Environment User's Guide, Version 7.4, Golder Associates Inc., Redmond, WA. (2001).Google Scholar
2. Davis, B. J., Contardi, J. S., Ling, L. T., ‘A Regulatory Analysis of Incidental Waste,’ Waste Management 2001, ed. WM Symposia, Inc., Tuscon, AZ, (2001).Google Scholar
3. Lees, T. P., “Deterioration Mechanisms,’ Durability of Concrete Structures, eds. Mays, and Geoff, , E & FN Spon, London, p. 270.Google Scholar
4. Krupka, K. M., and Serne, R. J., ‘Effects on Radionuclide Concentrations by Cement/Ground-Water Interactions in Support of Performance Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities,’ NUREG/CR-6377, U.S. NRC, Washington, DC. (1998).Google Scholar
5. US DOE, ‘Performance Assessment for the Tank Farm Facility at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory,’ DOE/ID-10966, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Falls, ID. (2001).Google Scholar