Compared to other large engineering projects, geologic repositories for high-level waste present distinctive challenges because: 1) they are first-of-a-kind, complex, and long-term projects that must actively manage hazardous materials for many decades: 2) they are expected to hold these hazardous materials passively safe for many millennia after repository closure; and 3) they are widely perceived to pose serious risks. As is the case for other complex projects, repository programs should proceed in stages.
One Step at a Time focuses on a management approach called "adaptive staging" as a promising means to develop geologic repositories for high-level radioactive waste such as the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Adaptive staging is a learn-as-you-go process that enables project managers to continuously reevaluate and adjust the program in response to new knowledge and stakeholder input. Advice is given on how to implement staging during the construction, operation, closure, and post-closure phases of a repository program.