Nuclear Technology / Volume 148 / Number 2 / November 2004 / Pages 151-165
Technical Paper / High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
Underground facilities are being operated by several countries around the world for performing research and demonstration of the safety of deep radioactive waste repositories. The Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory is one such facility launched and operated by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company where various in situ experiments have been performed in fractured granites. One such experiment is the redox zone experiment, which aimed at evaluating the effects of the construction of an access tunnel on the hydrochemical conditions of a fracture zone. Dilution of the initially saline groundwater by fresh recharge water is the dominant process controlling the hydrochemical evolution of most chemical species, except for bicarbonate and sulfate, which unexpectedly increase with time. We present a numerical model of water flow, reactive transport, and microbial processes for the redox zone experiment. This model provides a plausible quantitatively based explanation for the unexpected evolution of bicarbonate and sulfate, reproduces the breakthrough curves of other reactive species, and is consistent with previous hydrogeological and solute transport models.