Disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological formations

DMT is known for high-quality technical solutions, encompassing operational efficiency, innovation and safety. With its broad range of expertise in mining and radiation protection, DMT is well-equipped to support the safe disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological repositories.

The disposal of nuclear waste is a national task. Depending on the type of waste, this can occur near the surface or deep underground in geological formations, whereby the type of disposal is based on the existing inventory and the characteristics of the waste. In order to tackle this task, each country must develop a national strategy, which defines the methods of disposal for individual types of waste depending on the relevant safety requirements and taking into account the approval procedure for the construction of one or more repository sites. All necessary decisions and responsibilities within this process must be specified and scheduled, with particular emphasis on the following:

  • Site investigation and site selection
  • Detailed planning and cost estimation
  • Safety assessment
  • Public Relations

DMT offers a full range of services for the assessment and selection of potential sites and the development of safety-optimised solutions for the disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological repositories or deep boreholes.

DMT - Your professional partner for the disposal of radioactive waste

As a leading international mining consulting company, DMT offers a broad spectrum of specialist expertise for repository mining. Our services support the disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological formations at all project stages, from site selection and exploration, mine design and construction to operation and closure of the mine. Furthermore, as a member of the TÜV NORD group, Germany's largest technology service provider, DMT can call on a large number of specialists with a wide range of nuclear engineering know-how. Our primary goal is the safe and secure isolation of radioactive waste from the biosphere.

Our employees are extemely experienced in this field and can advise on almost the entire spectrum of requirements for the safe disposal of radioactive waste. We are active in the following areas:

  • Consulting and development of national strategies for the disposal of radoactive waste in deep geological formations
  • Site selection & exploration
  • Geology & hydrogeology
  • Hydrogeological / geological modelling
  • Waste characterization & acceptance criteria
  • Environmental impact assessments (EIA)
  • Mine planning
  • Project management
  • Nuclear safety & radiation protection
  • Normative / regulatory / administrative context & international standard and experience
  • Economic and financial aspects
  • Research & development

Whatever the project, DMT provides customer-specific solutions for the disposal of radioactive waste, ranging from selected conceptual studies and the design of detailed engineering solutions to support in developing strategic approaches and national activities (roadmap) for the construction of a repository.

All-round safety

DMT has decades of mining experience and provides comprehensive solutions to support you in the final disposal of radioactive waste. Don't hesitate to contact us for further details!

OUR SERVICES & PROJECTS

Site Selection & Exploration

DMT has created detailed geological models within the scope of hundreds of major underground exploration projects for both repository and extraction mining. With our own trained seismic crew and specialist equipment, we can provide all the necessary geophysical data, thus laying the foundation for the long-term safety and success of your repository. 

Design & Construction

Based on the results of the site investigation, we prepare the detailed design and planning of the repository mine, ensuring that this forms a basis for safe operation and the optimal realisation of long-term safety.

Operation

The successful construction of repository mines relies heavily on comprehensive planning and expert support. DMT has many years of practical mining experience, from the sinking of the first shaft to the underground excavation as well as the construction of all necessary infrastructure. Furthermore, we are experienced in the fields of automation and process technology, and can provide valuable know-how and assistance in this area.

Closure

Sealing of a repository securely is an essential step in keeping radioactive substances away from the biosphere for long periods of time. The way in which the closure is executed and managed is of decisive importance for long-term safety, as errors can no longer be rectified after completion of the work. Based on our mining experience, we can facilitate the secure sealing of the repository. This step includes, among other things, closing off the storage areas by filling selected sections flush with the contours and tightly sealing the shafts of the mine.

Specialist Services

Specific unique tasks often arise in "real" life and have many different causes. DMT implements customer-specific solutions that go beyond the state of the art in science and technology in the sensitive field of nuclear safety.

Below you can find a selection of exemplary projects carried out by DMT in recent years.

Project: Site exploration, nagra

DMT has carried out various 3D and high-resolution 2D seismic surveys in northern Switzerland on behalf of nagra over the past three years. The aim of the measurements was to explore in detail potential sites for the disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological formations. The seismic investigations provided geological descriptions, which were then transferred to a high-resolution 3D model of the underground strata to clarify the possible suitability of the deeper subsoil (up to 900 m below the ground surface) for the storage of radioactive waste.

Different measurement techniques were combined and a variety of seismic vehicles were used. The seismic measurements were carried out in a total of 4 sub-projects (three 3D projects and one 2D project), covering a total survey area of approximately 230 km2. The total number of source points in the 3D subproject "Jura East" alone was 20,500.

Within the scope of the supplementary 2D subproject, the expansion of quaternary troughs and channels as well as gravel deposits at depths up to 300 m below ground level were investigated. Altogether, profiles with a total length of about 62 km were measured seismically. The total number of source points for these investigations was approximately 8,200.

Seismic trucks
GPS survey for line determination
In-field processing truck

Project: Concept Planning, Asse 5 Shaft

DMT is working in a consortium on the concept planning for the new Asse 5 shaft, which will be required once work begins to recover the radioactive waste stored in the mine (approx. 125,000 drums). Based on the existing (hydro-) geological and mining data, we determined a suitable point for the exploratory drilling, prepared the necessary planning and approval documents, accompanied the borings and processed the (hydro-) geological and geotechnical data obtained from the samples for the shaft planning.

Project: Support technologies of the Konrad Repository

Anchor testing in DMT technical laboratory

In the course of the construction of the Konrad repository (BGE), existing underground routes are being built through, extended and new caverns are being excavated, which must be technically secured. For quality assurance purposes, DMT's technical experts are responsible for checking the construction equipment used and examining and assessing any damage caused to the structure, taking into account the underground conditions. The following testing services are performed for this purpose:Anchor tensile test underground and in the pilot plant

  • Anchor shear test
  • Testing of the insertion behaviour of new and corroded anchor sliding heads
  • Analysis of borehole camera endoscopies
  • Corrosion tests on anchors
  • Technical examination of materials for fracture analysis

In the course of the audits carried out, DMT develops reports and concepts for a wide variety of tasks and integrates them into the underground processes.

Project: Ventilation planning, Konrad Repository

Ventilation plan

DMT's technical experts provided extensive planning services in the field of ventilation for the construction of the Konrad repository (BGE). Based on the ventilation network created with DMT's own Software WETTER, corresponding calculations were made for:

  • simulation calculations for the arrangement of air regulation systems
  • the implementation planning of ventialtion installations before the begin of final repository operation
  • simulation calculations for a vehicle fire in the controlled area of the mine

The various operating phases for the storage of radioactive waste at different seasonal temperatures above ground must be taken into account, for example to determine the respective uplift and operating point of the main mine ventilator for all operating phases and seasons.
Furthermore, the mine building is examined for the effects of possible vehicle fires. With the help of the ventilation network program, fire incidents at various locations within the mine are simulated and appropriate emergency measures are derived.

Project: Fact-finding, Asse II mine

DMT is carrying out planning and exploration work on the Asse II mine on behalf of the BGE as part of the so-called fact-finding process. Due to the increasing inflow of water into the mine, the Federal Government decided to retrieve the low and intermediate level radioactive waste (approx. 126,000 barrels) originally stored there for research purposes, as part of the shaft rehabilitation measures. The purpose of fact-finding is to determine the current condition of the containers and the storage chambers. The data collected form the basis for determining the required timeframes for the retrieval of the waste and the actual expected radiation exposures. DMT plans and monitors the exploration work on two selected storage chambers; this includes the development of drilling and exploration concepts including the necessary infrastructure work (e.g. sluice and ventilation concepts) and rock mechanics planning for the underground routes and mine buildings. DMT is also developing concepts for the necessary monitoring and protection measures with regard to radioactive and toxic substances. This also includes the sampling of individual tasks under full protective clothing.

Model of the ASSE mine
Shaft-landing at the ASSE mine
Full protective clothing

Project: Remediation of contaminated sites, Ukraine

Contaminated site

DMT was a consortium member in the EU-funded project within the INSC Framework Programme (Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation) to support non-EU countries in nuclear safety issues. Together with our partners, we were jointly responsible for the remediation of old storage sites for radioactive waste from decontamination work following the nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl.

Around 50 old sites outside the exclusion zone were analysed and classified (safety, remediation priority) and a remediation concept for the previously determined pilot site was developed. In addition, recommendations for the remediation of the other sites were prepared. All work was carried out in close cooperation with Ukrainian colleagues, the site managers and the responsible authorities.


Do you require further information about expertise and the methods we use? Don't hesistate to get in touch or click on the link buttons below to access further information about specific services:

OUR CLIENTS & PARTNERS

We value the close and long-term cooperation with our clients and partners

"We express our satisfaction for the good job done by DMT and the consortium in preparing the tender documents in a very short period of time. Thanks to the hard work of the experts, two important follow up projects are now ongoing and are going to deliver concrete results for the people of Ukraine" - European Commission

"With its experience, flexibility and quality instrumental equipment, DMT has supported us in numerous measurement campaigns for site exploration for deep geological repositories." - Dr. Thomas Spillmann, Project Manager, Nagra

BGE: German federal company for radioactive waste disposal
Nagra - Swiss National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste
European Union
DEUTSCHE ARBEITSGEMEINSCHAFT ENDLAGERFORSCHUNG
Aachen Institute for Nuclear Training
Entsorgungswerk Nuklearanlagen
EIT RawMaterials
 

OUR HISTORY

With a company history spanning centuries, DMT has all the experience required for the construction and operation of mines. Operating under the "DMT" brand since 1990, we have over 100 years of experience in operative mining and roots dating back more than 250 years to the foundation of the first mining safety organisation in Germany. A particular focus of our work and that of our predecessor companies has always been on maximising safety within the mining sector without neglecting economic aspects, for example in the fields of fire and explosion protection, mine ventilation, rope testing and conveying technology.

Due to our involvement in many current extraction projects around the world, often dealing with very demanding deposits, we always have the latest mining knowledge at our fingertips. Our clients benefit from our expertise e.g. in strata control. Even under demanding conditions (depth, geotechnical stress etc.), we are able to provide a repository design with an associated expansion concept, which optimally maintains and protects the strata, for all host rocks currently under discussion worldwide for the disposal of radioactive waste (clay, crystalline, salt).

The first of DMT's numerous expert bodies was founded in 1903. Today, we benefit from decades of research and development through our numerous expert bodies and test centres recognised by the mining authorities. Our experts combine their extensive know-how with the nuclear safety expertise of  skilled colleagues in our sister companies in the TÜV NORD group.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Seal "Innovation through Research"

DMT has a long tradition in the field of reseach and developement in the mining technology sector. As a result of our vast experience, we regularly lead or contribute to international innovation projects and receive funding e.g. from the European Union to actively develop new solutions for the mining sector.

We are currently involved in raPHOSafe, an EIT RawMaterials project initiated in 2018 for the classification and sorting of radium-rich phosphogypsum tailings. One goal is the minimization of waste through the recycling of phosphate tailings.  

DMT also plays an active role in DAEF, the German working group for repository research.

For details of all our recent research projects, please visit the webpage Innovation and R&D Projects

Contact

Mr Dieter Wittenberg
Head of Mining Engineering
DMT GmbH & Co. KG
Tel: +49 201 172-1455
Fax: +49 201 172-1012
engineeringdmt-group.LÖSCHEN.com

Contact

Dr. Daniela Gutberlet
Project Manager
DMT GmbH & Co. KG
Tel: +49 201 172-1552
Fax: +49 201 172-1012
engineeringdmt-group.LÖSCHEN.com