NAWG News and Events

NAWG-17: Postponed to 2022 - more info to be announced soon!


First announcement of the 17th NAWG Workshop
Tuesday, 30th November to Thursday, 2nd December, 2021
Biel/Bienne, Switzerland


Picture2View of Biel/Bienne old town


The NAWG-17 workshop will be an opportunity to explore recent developments in the use of natural analogues (NA) in supporting safety cases (SC) for the disposal of radioactive wastes. Argumentation by use of analogy is well established in many fields including philosophy, biology, linguistics and law and most scientists are familiar with this approach and will have used it at some point in their career. If you are keen to learn more, why not come along? Currently, the aim is to discuss:

Strategic planning of natural analogue support for the safety case: with examples from several national programmes

Near-field studies: including corrosion of copper and steel canisters and the long-term stability of the bentonite buffer, with examples from various forms of disturbance.

Far-field studies: including Regional Analogues of potential repository sites and a review of recent information on the real impact of matrix diffusion on radionuclide releases

Stakeholder communication: including examples of approaches used to communicate different aspects of waste disposal to both technical and non-technical audiences

for the 3 day workshop, followed by a 1 day field trip (details to be announced)


The above themes are but a few examples and we are open to any suggestions to broaden the scope of the meeting - please drop the NAWG chairman, Russell Alexander (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), a line with your ideas and comments. Full details of the agenda will be made available on the NAWG web site ( shortly.

To register for the NAWG-17 workshop, please contact Russell before Friday, 8th October, 2021 using the registration form which can be downloaded from the NAWG web site.


Picture3View over Lake Biel/Bienne



New NA project in Japan

The International Bentonite Longevity (IBL) project was launched at the kick-off meeting on 22-23 May, 2019 in Sagae-shi in Japan. The project was introduced at the NAWG-15 workshop in Prague and the Clay Conference in Davos in 2017 (see the presentation (2.21 MB) ) and recent progress will be presented at NAWG-17. For future updates follow the website at For further details contact Russell Alexander (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Heini Reijonen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


The bentonite beds exposed in the rived bed at Tsukinono site.


NAWG-16 was held in Yamagata, Japan (Zao Onsen) on 15-18 October, 2019. Three days of discussion were followed by a one-day field trip to two NA sites of focus in the IBL project (please see for details). The workshop proceedings will be made available as a NUMO Technical Report early next year and the presentations and extended abstracts will be made available online here at the same time.

New publication by a NAWG member

Tony Milodowski and his co-authors have described the salinity and redox evolution in a deep coastal groundwater system. The results indicate long-term stability in a deep hydrochemical system despite repeated glaciations and associated sea level changes throughout the Quaternary.

The document can be found in our document library, or downloaded directly pdf here (3.86 MB) . pdf
(3.86 MB)

Publication by a NAWG member

The results of a new approach to examine long-term physical changes in bentonite properties has just been published as part of the Geosciences journal Special Issue on Geological Disposal of High Level Radioactive Waste - The Relationship between Engineered and Natural Barriers.

The document can be found in our document library, or downloaded directly here : pdf Alexander et al 2017 LPB long term behaviour of bentonite Geosciences (5.87 MB)

Meetings of interest

The below listed conferences and workshops may contain items of relevance to natural analogue studies:


European Geology Union General Assembly 2021 will take place online next year from April 19-30, 2021;

Session ERE4.3 (details below) will cover a range of topics, including natural analogues.

Towards a safe nuclear waste repository – assessment of barrier integrity, geoscientific, technological, societal and regulatory challenges and approaches


Convener: Thomas Nagel Co-conveners: Václava Havlová, Axel Liebscher, Jobst Maßmann, Klaus-Jürgen Röhlig

The successful implementation of safe deep geological disposal of spent fuel, high-level waste and other long-lived radioactive waste is one of the currently most pressing environmental challenges in several countries worldwide. Site investigation and selection are primarily geoscientific tasks that require interdisciplinary collaboration of different geoscientific disciplines, like geophysics, hydrogeology, (hydro-)geochemistry, mineralogy, geomechanics, material science, and geological as well as THMC modelling. Moreover, successful and socially accepted site selection and disposal implementation depend not only on geoscientific state-of-the-art results, sound engineering and R&D programs but to a large extent on well-designed public outreach and public involvement/participation activities as well as on suitable regulatory frameworks.

As for other subsurface technologies such as the storage of thermal energy and other energy carriers, or the deposition of chemotoxic waste or carbon dioxide, barrier integrity is a crucial aspect for the assessment of nuclear waste disposal. Numerical simulations, in conjunction with experimental studies are an integral part of safety and environmental-impact assessment concepts involving barrier integrity as a key component. Reliable comparative analyses of potential technological options require coupled THMC models capturing the particularities of each rock type and associated repository concept to a comparable level of sophistication. Structural as well as process complexity are often met by data scarcity and variability, necessitating the treatment of uncertainties and variability.

Aside from geoscientific and technological aspects this interdisciplinary session also addresses social and regulatory challenges by welcoming contributions from research and technical support organizations, waste management organizations, regulatory bodies, and NGOs. The session provides a platform for the exchange of i) geoscientific, geochemical, geotechnical and material science knowledge for assessing the integrity of multi-barrier systems considering equally conceptual, theoretical, computational and experimental aspects as well as ii) safety assessment strategies and tools, disposal concepts, national and transnational public outreach and involvement programs, siting approaches and relevant regulatory frameworks. Presentations related to other subsurface technologies that face comparable challenges are also welcome.

Abstracts will be accepted until 13 January 2021 at 13:00 CET. How to submit an abstract see below.

A direct link to abstract submission for our session as well as our session's description are here:

The 13th International Conference of the Croatian Nuclear Society (HND2020) which will also consider natural analogues has been postponed until 31/05721 to 03706/21. Please see for details.

The 8th Conference on Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers for Radioactive Waste Containment has also been postponed - to 14-17/06/21, please see for details

Potential interaction of alkali leachates on repository performance

Posiva, Finland, have recently released a new assessment of the potential impact of alkali, cementitious leachates from their L/ILW repository on their SF repository. The new study, Posiva Working Report 2017-03 (which can be downloaded here), builds on information from several NA studies, including work in Jordan (Maqarin) and Northern Ireland (Scawt Hill). See also Posiva Working Report 2007-35 (here) and SKB Report 12-17 (here).


NAWG-15 completed, on to NAWG-16 next

NAWG-15 is now over and we now look forward to NAWG-16. Although several potential locations are under discussion, no decision has been reached yet, but be assured that we shall make an announcement in the near future.

The NAWG-15 proceedings will be available as a SURAO technical report within a few short months. Please keep checking here for further updates.

The presentations from NAWG-15 can be downloaded here : NAWG 15 : 2017, Czech Republic.