Apart from dealing with the management of radioactive waste, GRS also studies hazardous chemical waste and its disposal under ground. While the term "repository" has established itself with regard to radioactive waste, the term used in connection with hazardous chemical waste is "underground disposal site". Hazardous chemical waste has been stored underground in various salt or potassium mines in Europe and Germany since 1972 (Herfa-Neurode).
GRS investigates what hazard potential may be involved in the underground disposal of contaminants – of the radioactive or hazardous chemical kind – and what concepts may be suitable for their isolation from the environment. It furthermore develops methods and sets of instruments that can be used for the analysis and demonstration of the long-term safety of a repository or an underground disposal site. The knowledge and experience in this area is based on long-standing, application-oriented research.
Workshop on “Underground Disposal of Hazardous Waste”
In many Asian and Latin American countries in particular, a large legacy of contaminated sites, unregulated waste dumping an a low priority of environmental issues pose big problems. As in Europe, such problems form part of the history of industrial progress. Here, the concept of the underground disposal of hazardous chemical waste may possibly contribute to reducing the environmental burden and the associated health effects in these countries.
At the end of 2010, the international workshop on “Underground Disposal of Hazardous Waste” took place in Braunschweig. At his conference, which was hosted by GRS and the Federal Environment Ministry, experts from all over the world discussed the chances and the challenges involved in the underground disposal of particularly hazardous waste. One focus of the event was on possible ways of implementing European disposal concepts in the countries of Asia and Latin America.