Insert title here
The International Framework For Nuclear Energy Cooperation

Webinar: Understanding Deep Borehole Disposal Technology in the context of Spent Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal: History, Status, Opportunities and Challenges - November 4 and 5, 2020

Online - November 4, 2020 - November 5, 2020

The Working Group has noted that although there is widespread interest in the potential to dispose of spent fuel (SF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) in deep boreholes, there are limited opportunities to obtain current information on this developing technology.  The objective of the webinar is to provide a comprehensive overview of the technology and its potential role as the only recognized alternative, or complement, to a mined geologic repository for disposal of SF and HLW. 

The deep borehole disposal concept has been around for decades—practically from the inception of projects on geological disposal. In recent years interest has noticeably increased and today there are a number of unrelated activities underway directed at developing and demonstrating the practical application of this technology.  The webinar will discuss the status and objectives of these activities.

On the first day there will be presentations by experts who will provide an objective overview of the technology, identifying not only the opportunities it presents for contributing to the disposal of SF and HLW, but also the challenges that remain to be addressed.  The second day will be devoted to understanding the current activities underway to develop and demonstrate the technology.

The Webinar Program with speakers and topics is provided below.  For those who wish to review discussions of this technology prior to the webinar, references to three key papers by webinar speakers is provided:

  • Who Might Be Interested in a Deep Borehole Disposal Facility for Their Radioactive Waste?  by Neil A. Chapman

  • Deep borehole disposal of higher burn up spent nuclear fuels by F. G. F. Gibb, K. P. Travis,K. W. Hesketh




Wednesday, November 4 - 14h00/15h30 CET


Co- chairs welcome and introduction to Webinar

Brief introductory comments by Neil Chapman, moderator


Expert Panel Introducing the Deep Borehole Disposal (DBD) Concept


  1. Philippe Van Marcke, IAEA, is the lead on a report currently in technical editing (Disposal Options for Small Radioactive Waste Inventories) that explores disposal options for small amounts of radioactive waste requiring underground disposal. One of the options included is deep borehole disposal. His presentation will be based on this publication and set the scene by identifying the current range of approaches for radioactive waste disposal.
  2. Neil Chapman, Arius, authored the 2019 paper referenced in the webinar announcement on the potential utility of DBD to different types and scales of national radioactive waste management programs.  He has maintained a long-term interest in the strategic and technical issues of DBD and will give an overall history/ status/ issues presentation. 
  3. Geoff Freeze and Pat Brady, Sandia National Laboratory, US.  Sandia is a leader in the evaluation and advancement of the technology and they will address the work they have done and are doing on the topic.
  4. Karl Travis and Professor Fergus Gibb, Deep Borehole Disposal Research Group, University of Sheffield, UK. The research team at Sheffield is also a recognized leader in the scientific evaluation and innovation of this technology and authored two of the papers referenced in the webinar announcement.  They will address several issues related to the disposal of SNF including: concepts for consolidated disposal, the design and emplacement of sealing and support matrices, seal longevity and sealing of critical pathways. 
  5. Vladimir Lebedev, Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Paris.  The presentation will address NEA work on strategic safety case development, i.e., safety functions, integration of safety assessment, uncertainty management, and communication strategies, etc.
  6. Moderator led panel discussion.

Please find the presentations here. 


Thursday, November 5 14h00/15h30 CET


 Panel on Current Deep Borehole Activities with Additional Perspectives


  1. Deep Isolation, Inc., Chris Parker Deep Isolation is the leading deep borehole disposal commercial concern. The presentation will address their technology and activities.
  2. Havard Kristiansen, Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning agency (NND) will provide a presentation on the work being done for the ERDO Working Group on this subject (led by a project being developed in Norway).
  3. Dirk Mallants of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Australia will discuss their program for evaluating this technology for application in Australia.
  4. Over time several countries have expressed interest in this disposal approach, including Croatia, Jordan, Slovenia, UK, Sweden, Denmark and others.  There will be an opportunity for WG members to comment on any work they have done, or provide their perspective on this technology.
  5. Moderator led panel discussion.

Please find the presentations here. 



Following our webinar, the large number of questions submitted by the attendees was distilled into twelve focussed questions.

Click here to access the detailed list of questions and answers. 


Upcoming Meetings
Members Area

This area is a repository of practical information for Participant and Observer organizations. Access permission is required.

Members Area Login