Monitoring experience associated with nuclear waste disposal and its application to CO2 sequestration projects
Michael J. Stenhouse, David Savage, 2004. "Monitoring experience associated with nuclear waste disposal and its application to CO2 sequestration projects", Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide, Shelagh J. Baines, Richard H. Worden
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Monitoring is a key component of the development and operation of nuclear waste repositories, and some of the underlying considerations and lessons learned can benefit projects involving the geological storage of CO2. Before reviewing the general monitoring objectives for nuclear waste repositories, the key differences between nuclear waste disposal and CO2 storage projects are emphasized. The philosophy underlying monitoring after closing/sealing a repository is discussed. Important aspects of this philosophy include the need to collect adequate baseline data representative of the unperturbed site, and the desire to engender public confidence, but not at the expense of compromising the protective barriers of the repository itself. Pre-operational and operational monitoring provide important data that feed into safety assessment calculations, either as input data or as information that can be used to confirm, and/or refine, predictions. Using a specific example of a deep (geological) repository, monitoring experience at the WIPP site in New Mexico is discussed, focusing on methods and techniques that are relevant to CO2 sequestration projects. Such monitoring includes geotechnical (characterization of the evolving behaviour of underground facilities), groundwater (quality and quantity), environmental (impacts on ecosystems), and subsidence (to support subsidence predictions for the WIPP site located in bedded salt formations).
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main compound identified as affecting the stability of the Earth’s climate. A significant reduction in the volume of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere is a key mechanism for mitigating climate change. Geological storage of CO2, or the injection and long-term stabilization of large volumes of CO2 in the subsurface in saline aquifers, in existing hydrocarbon reservoirs or in unmineable coal seams, is one of the more technologically advanced options available. A number of studies have been carried out and are reported here. They are aimed at understanding the safety, physical and chemical behaviour and long-term fate of CO2 when stored in geological formations. Until efficient, alternative energy options can be developed, geological storage of CO2, the subject of this volume, provides a mechanism to reduce carbon emissions significantly whilst continuing to meet the global demand for energy.