Bentonite analogue research related to geological disposal of radioactive waste: current status and future outlook

Research paper by Heini M. Reijonen, W. Russell Alexander

Indexed on: 12 Apr '15Published on: 12 Apr '15Published in: Swiss Journal of Geosciences


The practice of utilising natural analogues in assessing the long-term behaviour of various components of geological repositories for radioactive waste is already well established in most disposal programmes. Numerous studies on bentonites, focussing on bentonite interaction with other components of the engineered barrier system and a range of host rock environments, are present in the literature. In this article, recent bentonite natural analogue studies are briefly reviewed, and gaps in the current literature identified, with the aim of (1) suggesting where relevant new information could be obtained by data mining published bentonite natural analogue studies with a new focus on current safety case requirements, (2) collecting relevant information by revisiting known bentonite analogue sites and conducting investigations with more appropriate analytical techniques, and (3) identifying novel study sites where, for example, bentonite longevity in very dilute to highly saline groundwater conditions can be studied. It must be noted that the use of natural analogues in safety case development is likely to be site and repository design-specific in nature and thus emphasis is placed on the appropriate use of relevant natural analogue data on bentonite longevity.