Special Session on Development and Prospect of Nuclear Backend

Session Chair:

Dr. Ching-Tsuen Huang

  • Former Director General of the Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration, Atomic Energy Council (AEC), Taiwan
  • Chairperson of the Academic Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, Chung-Hwa Nuclear Society (CHNS), Taiwan

Session Introduction:

This special session mainly focuses on popular topics such as novel reprocessing process for spent nuclear fuel, final disposal, deep borehole disposal, etc., and invites world-renowned experts to introduce the latest technological developments. More detailed topic information will be gradually updated with the planning of conference affairs.

Special Lectures (Tentative):

* 20 minutes Presentation and 20 minutes Discussion and Q&A for each topic.

Hans Forsstrom

Hans Forsström

Senior Advisor, SKB International AB, Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co.


Hans Forsström has a MSc from Chalmers Technical University. and started his career as a reactor physicist in 1972, before turning to the field of radioactive waste management in 1978.

Hans is an international advisor in issues connected to the nuclear fuel cycle and radioactive waste management at SKB International.

1979 -1998 he was involved in the development of the Swedish radioactive waste management system at SKB, ending as Technical Director.

1998 – 2005 Hans was Head of Unit for Nuclear Fission and Radiation Protection in DG Research, at the European Commission, where he was responsible for the implementation of the Euratom Framework programme.

2005 -2010 he was Director for the Division Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology within the Department of Nuclear Energy at the IAEA.

Lecture Title: The Developments towards Final Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High Level Waste in Europe

The construction of the first disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel in the world is at an advanced stage in Finland and will be operational in a few years’ time. It will be followed shortly by a similar facility in Sweden and by a disposal facility for high level and other long lived waste in France. Other countries in Europe are also developing disposal facilities but are at earlier stages.

These facilities are the result of R&D work carried out since the 1970ies. As the geological conditions differ between the countries the solutions also differ. In Finland and Sweden and in some other European countries the disposal facilities will be built in crystalline rock, while in France, Switzerland and Belgium argillitic rocks are considered. In Germany at first disposal in a salt dome was planned but since a few years a wider geological search is going on. In all facilities the long term safety is based on containing the spent fuel or the high level waste by several different barriers, including the waste matrix, a long lived canister, and different buffers (e.g bentonite clay) and of course the rock itself.

The extensive R&D activities includes studies of the behaviour of the bedrock and the transport of water and radionuclides in the bedrock and in the biosphere. It also includes studies of corrosion of the waste matrix and the canister, as well as the behaviour and buffering capacity of the buffer material. An important component of the R&D has also been the development of the methods for performance and safety assessment over the long time periods to be considered. At the later stage of the development work important R&D activities have been devoted to the practical equipment needed for the disposal of the waste and the backfilling of the different openings in the rock at an industrial scale.

For much of the rock studies and studies of material behaviour in “real” conditions dedicated underground rock laboratories (URL) have been used in several countries in Europe. These have been an excellent place for international cooperation and exchange of experiences.

An important component for the success of the European disposal projects has been the early involvement of the public in the decision making process, through the joint preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments and through involving the local authorities and public.



Vice President, Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, China National Nuclear Corporation, China


  • Organization: Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG) / China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)
  • Nationality: China
  • Degree: Ph. D
  • Title and Position:
    • Vice President of BRIUG, responsible for R&D Project management and International Cooperation Affairs
    • Head, Program of Geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste in China
    • Chief Designer, the Beishan Underground Research Laboratory for geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste
    • Director, Innovation Center for Geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste of CAEA (China Atomic Energy Authority)
  • Engaged in R&D of Geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste since 1993.
Lecture Title: Construction of Beishan Underground Research Laboratory for Geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste in Chinese Mainland

With the rapid development of nuclear energy in China, challenges with respect to the safe disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) are increasing. China’s strategy for HLW disposal is divided into three phases: (1) laboratory-based research and site selection for the disposal facility (2006-2020), (2) underground research and testing (2021-2040), and (3) the disposal facility construction (2041-2050). The 13th Five-year Plan for the National Economy and Social Development of China (2016-2020) determined that “the construction of China’s underground research laboratory (URL) for HLW disposal should start before 2020”.Site selection for China’s deep geological repository (DGR) started in 1985. In 2011, the Beishan area of north-western China was recommended as the top priority area for China’s DGR. This decision provided an important basis for selecting the URL site. Based on the achievements obtained from site selection of the DGR, site selection for China’s URL started in 2015. Altogether 9 candidate URL sites were selected for further comparison. According to the strategy to build an area-specific URL in combination with the site characterization results, a systematic comparison was conducted among the 9 sites. The result was that the Xinchang site in the Beishan area was determined as China’s URL site. Hence, we call China’s first URL for HLW disposal as the Beishan URL. The rock masse at the Beishan URL site has very good integrity and extremely low permeability. In addition, high strength and low in-situ stress level of the rock masse is favourable for the excavation stability.

On May 6, 2019, the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) approved the “Beishan URL Construction” project. The construction period of the Beishan URL is from 2021 to 2027. A significant milestone is that, on June 17, 2021, China kicked off the construction of the Beishan URL, and a ground-breaking ceremony was held at the URL site, marking that China’s efforts on HLW disposal has entered a new phase, i.e., the URL development stage.

The Beishan URL is characterized by the layout of three shafts, one spiral ramp, and two experimental levels with a maximum depth of 560 m (Fig.1). The three shafts include one personnel shaft and two ventilation shafts. The drill-and-blast method will be used for excavation of the 6-m-diameter personnel shaft, while raise boring machine will be used for excavation of the two 3-m-diameter ventilation shafts. The spiral ramp has a length of about 7 km, a cross-sectional diameter of 7 m and a maximum curve diameter of about 255 m. The ramp will be excavated using the full-face tunnel boring machine (TBM), with the aim to minimize the damage to surrounding rocks. The ramp of the Beishan URL is currently the world’s first spiral ramp planned to be excavated by the TBM. The experimental tunnels will be planned to be constructed at two levels, i.e., -280 m and -560 m levels.

The excavation of the personnel shaft and the ramp of the Beishan URL started in April 2022. A comprehensive field-testing programme focusing on site characterization, technology development and testing will be performed during URL construction, including geological mapping, geophysical surveying hydrogeological investigations, rock suitability evaluation, TBM penetration test, in-situ stress measurements and excavation damage zone (EDZ) characterization, etc.

On October 17, 2021, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) designated the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG) as the IAEA Collaborating Centre for Geological Disposal of High-level Radioactive Waste. The BRIUG will support the IAEA in the implementation of activities in the IAEA Programme “Nuclear Power, Fuel Cycle and Nuclear Science”, with the aim to enhance IAEA Member States capabilities in geological disposal of HLW. The Beishan URL will provide a platform for IAEA Member States to exchange practical experiences relevant to the planning and construction of a new URL. Meanwhile, this facility will be open for international cooperation in related scientific and technological fields.

Currently, the ramp entrance is being excavated by drill-and-blast method to provide space for assembly and trial operation of the TBM. The excavated length of the ramp reaches 392 meters on 1 September 2022. Geological mapping is being conducted following the tunnelling process. It is expected that the achievements to be gained from the Beishan URL will successfully contribute to the development of China’s DGR and similar facilities worldwide.

Ju Wang_Abstract
Fig. 1. A 3D perspective view of the Beishan URL.

Rodney Baltzer

Rod Baltzer

Chief Operating Officer, Deep Isolation, Inc.

Rodney (Rod) Baltzer is the Chief Operating Officer of Deep Isolation. Deep Isolation (www.deepisolation.com) is a private company focused on the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste using directional drilling to safely secure waste deep underground. Rod is responsible for the areas of the company that include waste management operations, as well as interactions with communities, utilities and government entities. Rod has over 20 years of experience in leadership positions in the nuclear waste industry. He received a BS in Agricultural Economics and Accounting from Oklahoma State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Lecture Title: Overview of Disposal in Boreholes
Countries around the world continue to work on plans to develop safe, secure, and permanent deep geological disposal facilities for high-level waste, including spent nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive materials. Deep Isolation developed a disposal method that uses directional drilling techniques and emplaces disposal canisters in either a vertical, deviated, or horizontal orientation deep underground. This provides a more economical disposal solution for spent fuel and high-level waste from advanced reactors, small modular reactors and for countries with smaller waste inventories.The presentation will discuss the basic technology and benefits of borehole disposal as well as results from customer studies.The cost of disposal for smaller waste inventories in properly sited horizontal borehole disposal system will be approximately 50% of the cost of a mined repository. Other factors must be considered but the siting, safety case and technology are sufficiently developed to show that nuclear waste can be safely disposed using borehole disposal repositories while offering cost savings when compared to the status quo.