Workshop on advancing the safety case for a GDF in Lower Strength Sedimentary Rocks
Lower Strength Sedimentary Rock (LSSR) formations are common across the UK. Their common occurrence, combined with their favourable properties (e.g. low permeability), means that they offer potential opportunities for hosting a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for radioactive waste in the UK. In order to assess this potential further, fundamental underpinning research into the nature of an LSSR hosted GDF is required. The potential for locating a GDF within LSSR formations has recently been prioritised by RWM, with a programme of work currently running in this area. RWM also plans to support a large programme of academic research in LSSR and, through the RSO, is working with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to maximise the impact of this funding. This workshop marks the first phase in developing and defining high priority research areas.
A workshop was held on Monday 8th November to bring academics together with RWM subject experts to discuss the priority areas of research in LSSR. We welcomed around 60 attendees, from 25 UK universities and relevant organisations, joining us either in person or online. Being the first hybrid event we have coordinated brought with it some challenges, but this new way of working did allow attendees from far afield to comfortably participate.
The day began with presentations from RWM colleagues to set the scene on the current research in the LSSR area and challenges they anticipate. Further presentations focussed in on LSSR within the RSO discipline areas, Geosciences, Radiochemistry and Applied Mathematics. In the afternoon, delegates split into these subject areas according to their expertise and interests to discuss the challenges in more detail and identify priority research themes. Online delegates were able to work together and feed back into the room.
Outputs from this initial workshop activity will inform any future research funding calls in this area. It was hugely beneficial to get a view of the research area, current challenges and future priorities from the academic community. We hope to publish a LSSR funding call in 2022, for a 4 year research programme with an indicative budget of £2 to £4 million, to support projects starting in 2023.