FIGURE 2.1b The Implementation and Operation stage.

aEngineering operations can be repository construction, pilot activities, repository operation, closure, etc.

bMonitoring implies gathering technical data from the site and from other sources and also societal input (see Section 4.6).

cTargeted research includes long-term science and technology program and research in social sciences (see Sections 4.7 and 4.11, respectively).

Point; however, if questions of safety or planned feasibility do not emerge as the program proceeds, reversal on technical grounds becomes less likely. Similarly, as the program proceeds, choices among alternatives are likely to decline.8

Unlike Linear Staging, options remain open for as long as practical when Adaptive Staging is employed. Eventually, Linear and Adaptive approaches converge to an end. If parties involved in the program openly acknowledge that the final path taken may not be the one initially planned, Adaptive Staging has the potential to reduce the perception that changes are a reaction to some failure in the original plan. This perception may be mitigated by using Adaptive Staging when compared to a management approach that sets up and advertises fixed milestones that will inevitably need to be revised with time.

In summary, Adaptive Staging is a cautious and deliberate decision-making and management process, fully consistent with good engineering practices. It emphasizes continuous learning, both technical and societal, includes scientific and managerial re-evaluations and reactions to new knowledge, is responsive to stakeholder input, and is designed to continually improve the project while retaining the option of reversibility as much as possible.


Of course, it cannot be excluded that some programs—especially those with active research components using Adaptive Staging—open new options as they proceed.

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