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Highly alkaline environments induced by cementitious materials in radioactive waste repositories are likely to alter montmorillonite, the main constituent of bentonite buffer materials, and are likely to cause the physical and/or chemical properties of the buffer materials to deteriorate.
The deterioration may cause variation in hydraulic conductivity of the buffer. However, empirical data on the variation of hydraulic conductivity are scarce, mainly because the alteration of compacted buffer materials, sand-bentonite mixtures, is extremely slow. In this study, laboratory experiments
were performed to observe changes in hydraulic conductivity of sand-bentonite mixtures, accompanied by their alkaline alteration, using NaOH-based solutions at 80 À 90°C. Series-1 multi-step alteration/water conduction experiments resulted in an increase in the hydraulic conductivity
by one order of magnitude over a 200 day period. Series-2 single step alteration/water conduction experiments revealed a decrease in the montmorillonite contents with time and a resulting increase in the hydraulic conductivity by 30 times over the 67 day period. Series-3 simultaneous alteration/water
conduction experiment also demonstrated an increase in the hydraulic conductivity by 30 times over the 150 day period. The results proved that the alkaline alteration of the bentonite buffer can increase the hydraulic conductivity. The data obtained in this study are useful for verification
of the code that will be used for assessing the alteration.