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The British Radwaste Information Management System (BRIMS)

[+] Author Affiliations
Ian Upshall

United Kingdom Nirex, Ltd., Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK

Paper No. ICEM2003-4808, pp. 589-595; 7 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2003-4808
From:
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME

abstract

The creation and subsequent access to accurate information is widely accepted as a vital component of a national radioactive waste management strategy. Information on the origin and quantity of the waste together with its physical, chemical and radiological characteristics provides a catalyst for sound and transparent decision making. This information will originate from a number of potentially disparate sources, including material manufacturers, facility operators, waste producers, Government and Non-Government organisations and regulators. The challenge to those with a role in information management in further increased by the fact that much of the information created is required to support activities, not only in the immediate future, but also in the longer-term — typically many decades or even centuries. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published a number of guidance documents under the Safety Series, one of which makes direct reference to information management. The document [1] is intended to assist Member States in the development of a national system for radioactive waste management and identifies the key responsibilities and essential features of such a system. The following statement appears in Section 5: “The regulatory body, the waste generators and the operators of radioactive waste management facilities should maintain documentation and records consistent with the legal requirements and their own needs.” An essential requirement of these ‘documents and records’ is that they should be “...kept in a condition that will enable them to be consulted and understood later by people different from, and possibly without reference to, those who generated the records ...” The scope of the documentation and records to be kept will be wide ranging but will include “...an inventory of radioactive waste, including origin, location, physical and chemical characteristics, and, as appropriate a record of radioactive waste removed or discharged from a facility”, and “site plans, engineering drawings, specifications and process descriptions ... radioactive waste package identification ...”. It is has long been recognised in the United Kingdom that the management of radioactive waste will require the assembly and secure retention of a diversity of records and data. This information will be needed to inform the strategic decision making process, thus contributing to the future safe, environmentally sound and publicly acceptable management of radioactive waste. In the meantime it will also service the nation’s international commitments. When the planning application for a Rock Characterisation Facility (RCF) was refused and the subsequent Nirex appeal rejected in 1997, it was recognised that transfer of waste to a national repository was ulikely to take place for many decades. The long-term preservation of information by the waste management organisations thus became an issue. Since this time, the UK nuclear industry, including the waste producers, regulators and other Government Departments have worked together to develop a common information management system that is now being implemented. It is based on an Oracle database and is supported by ‘electronic tools’ designed to facilitate entry and retrieval of data in a common format. Long-term access to these data underpins many aspects of the system design. Designing such a system and seeing through its development has been a challenge for all those involved. However, as the project nears the completion of the development phase, it is clear there are several benefits in this approach. These include a sharing of best practice, shared development costs, an improved understanding of the needs of all parties, and the use of a common platform and tools. The ‘partnership approach’ between waste management organisations, Government departments and regulators will also reduce the likelihood of future surprises or conflicts of interest. Industry-wide co-operation also provides a greater degree of confidence that the system will continue to enjoy technical and financial support for the foreseeable future. The British Radwaste Information Management System (BRIMS) is supported by the principal waste producers, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and United Kingdom Nirex Limited (Nirex). All organisations that have participated in its development over the past seven years have free access to it and may use it as part of their waste management strategy.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME

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