Waste Technology Section

Decommissioning of Facilities

Borehole Disposal of Sealed Radioactive Sources or BOSS (Borehole disposal of Sealed radioactive Sources)

Responsible Officer : Lumir NACHMILNER

Click here to download the BOSS Brochure

Overview: The BOSS system is a safe, simple and cost-effective solution for the disposal of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS). The BOSS can be adopted to dispose of small amounts of radioactive wastes.

Seen in the above Figure, the BOSS consists of:

  • A mobile facility that allows even high activity DSRS to be safely conditioned and packed
  • A disposal borehole with multi-barrier system able to confine safely conditioned DSRS

The sources are placed inside two high integrity stainless steel containers (one inside the other, with expected longevity of thousands of years) and sealed within a 30-100 meter deep, specially engineered borehole in a suitably selected host geological stratum.

The BOSS system provides safety for the current and future generations by (i) isolating the radioactive sources underground so that people will not come into contact with them; and (ii) by using a combination of high integrity stainless steel containers and sealing materials to contain the radioactivity for long enough for it to decay to insignificant levels.

BOSS systems have a number of characteristics that enhance waste safety, cost-effectiveness, and physical security. For example, they:

  • Isolate the DSRS from the human environment by placing them underground in high integrity packaging to contain DSRS for thousands of years;
  • Provide direct and cost-effective access to a suitable geological environment, using readily available technology;
  • Require limited land area and limited infrastructure and short period for BOSS implementation;
  • Have a small ‘footprintó ­©nimizing inadvertent intrusion; and
  • Require minimal control over the disposal site when the disposal and site restoration have been completed.

The complete BOSS system – including pre-disposal and disposal activities – can only be implemented in a country if there is a strong national commitment and an independent regulatory system. This could be demonstrated, for instance, simply by a government taking a decision-in-principle to adopt the BOSS system.

BOSS has been designed to use economic, readily-available materials and technology. The total cost of sealed source disposal in a borehole facility is expected not to exceed US $1 million.

The management of disused radioactive sources is the responsibility of the Member State. The IAEA may through its technical cooperation programmes help the State to decide whether BOSS would be suitable for implementation in their country and, if suitable, what conditions would need to be met. The IAEA may further assist with the deployment of BOSS through advice, training, reviews and the use of equipment and by providing generic design and safety documentation. At the request of a Member State, the IAEA may consider providing assistance in fund mobilization for the implementation of BOSS. Also, we facilitate the sharing of information and experience in this field and promote regional cooperation between Member States.

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