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Human Intrusion in the Context of Disposal of Radioactive Waste (HIDRA)

The HIDRA project considered how to counter potential future human actions that could disturb areas occupied by radioactive waste disposal facilities. Such human intrusions could affect the integrity of the disposal facilities and potentially give rise to radiological consequences.

The time radioactive waste takes to become harmless can range from a few days to millions of years, depending on the type of radioactive material in the waste. Disposal facilities for waste that remains radioactive for a very long time must consider that in the future, control over the disposal facility might be disrupted, and information about hazard lost or not understood. This could result of human intrusion in the facilities and should be addressed in the safety case.

As part of the HIDRA project, Member States developed an approach for identifying and selecting scenarios to be assessed, and protective measures to reduce the potential for and consequences of inadvertent human intrusions. The project also fostered information sharing and communication about potential inadvertent intrusion.

The HIDRA project developed an approach that supports operating organizations, regulatory bodies and government organizations as they work uphold safety in a consistent and structured manner in line with the IAEA safety standards. The approach is flexible and enables the consideration of different disposal concepts, site conditions, regional habits, and stages of development. This makes the approach useful to a broad range of Member States in their work to improve the robustness of radioactive waste disposal facilities.

The first phase of the project, conducted 2013-2015, focused on potential scenarios, societal factors and protective measures. Project participants developed guidance on how to assess the consequences of potential future inadvertent human intrusions and incorporate them in the safety case for a radioactive waste disposal facility. The guidance also describes how to use those assessments to optimize siting, design and waste acceptance criteria within the context of a safety case.

The second phase of the HIDRA project, conducted 2016-2018, focused on practical implementation of the HIDRA approach and documentation of country-specific examples. It provided a forum for regulators, operators and other interested parties to share information about approaches to consider human intrusion.

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