The status of seabed disposal studies and possible strategies for future development are reviewed. Background information for strategy development includes presentation of selected recommendations for future studies identified by the NEAJOECD. Seabed Working Group, the Engineering Studies Task Group of the Seabed Working Group and the Subseabed Consortium Inferences from these recommendations, and how sound scientifically based research, significant political perception and technological proof of concept may be related to strategies are considered as a prelude to strategy design A proposed European strategy, complementary to the 1988 Subseabed Consortium strategy developed in the US, is to proceed to the technological proof of concept by emplacing one or more full-sized waste canisters containing non-radioactive, simulated heat-producing waste by a chosen deployment system The latter could include the drilled, the penetrator or the pushed-in option Emplaced canisters would be monitored for an extended period of time, and eventually retrieved for examination International co-operation and co-ordination of all aspects is recommended.


This chapter briefly examines where we have been, where we are, where we want to go, and some strategies for getting there with regard to selected scientific and technical activities pertaining to studies of the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel in seabed sediments. Murray (1988) has summarized the need for the seabed disposal option as a viable alternative plan to the land disposal option for the high-level civilian and military waste that is being generated in North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

Some recommendations made by the Seabed Working Group and the Engineering Studies Task Group, and the tasks of the new Subseabed Consortium are summarized briefly Relevant information about the three organizations is presented. A number of inferences are made from the recommendations identified by these organizations, and three points that relate to future strategies are included as background to strategy design An objective of this chapter is to outline a proposed strategy that is complementary to the strategy that has been already developed by the Subseabed Consortium in the United States.


Strategies for future seabed investigations are partly dependant upon the results of research and the identification of additional scientific and technical problems needing solution. A great number of both recommendations and results, including the papers presented at this conference, are available. Because of space limitations, very few results will be presented Brief background information on, and recommendations identified by, the Seabed Working Group, the Engineering Studies Task Group, and the Subseabed Consortium are presented, together with a composite example of relevant recommendations identified by other organizations or committees.

Seabed Working Group

The International Seabed Working Group (SWG), under the auspices of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has been conducting a co-ordinated research programme since 1977 to investigate the feasibility and safety of the disposal of heat-generating wastes into abyssal plain sediments.

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