ONDRAF/NIRAS, Belgium’s Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials, is responsible for the management of all radioactive waste in Belgium. ONDRAF/NIRAS’s mission is to protect the public and the environment from any potential hazards of radioactive waste.
On Nov. 22, 2022, a royal decree was published, serving as the first regulatory act to formally establish a national policy for the safe and responsible long-term management of high-level and/or long-lived radioactive waste in Belgium. This first step in the regulatory process ratifies the decision in principle of deep disposal on Belgian territory – as recommended by ONDRAF/NIRAS – and lays the foundations for establishing the implementation procedures at a later stage and within a clear framework. Belgium is taking responsibility for its radioactive waste and making every effort to avoid passing on undue stresses to future generations.
The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is responsible for the development of a deep geological repository for used CANDU fuel, and for high-level waste from the reprocessing of used light water reactor fuel.
China’s site selection process, which is technically-driven, began in 1986 and focused on three candidate locations in the Beishan region of Gansu province in northwest China. In 2016, one of the siting regions was selected to host an Underground Research Laboratory. The site for the Underground Research Laboratory has a strong potential to become the eventual site of the repository. Site selection is expected in the 2020's.
Posiva is responsible for the final disposal of the used nuclear fuel of its two owners: Teollisuuden Voima and Fortum Power & Heat.
Posiva’s site selection process, which was technically-driven and consent-based, began in the 1980s. In 2000, the Olkiluoto island in Eurajoki was selected as the site for final disposal. The construction licence application for the repository was submitted in 2012 and granted in 2015. Construction is in progress. Application for a licence to operate was submitted in 2021.
Andra is responsible for the long-term management of France’s used nuclear fuel. France currently has 59 operational nuclear power plants, with 78 per cent of its electricity coming from nuclear power.
Andra’s siting studies began in 2007, just outside the village of Bure in the Champagne-Ardenne region of eastern France. A preliminary application for a repository construction licence was submitted in 2019, and the final construction licence application is expected to be submitted by the end of 2021 with construction expected to start in 2025.
Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is responsible for the safety and protection of people and the environment against damages due to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. This includes radiation from sources such as medical diagnostics, mobile communications, and nuclear technology.
Germany is investigating a site for a deep geological repository, with its procedure outlined in the StandAG (Repository Site Selection Act). Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE) is the implementing organization.
In 2020, as part of the site selection process, the BGE published its interim report on sub-areas. The interim report is subject to public participation and review, which was initiated in October 2020. The former reference repository site at Gorleben is no longer being considered. The final siting criteria are currently under preparation.
PURAM is responsible for implementing the site selection process for a deep geologic repository for Hungary's high-level nuclear waste. The site selection process is expected to be completed by 2030.
IndiaThe Government of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducts research on repository development and siting at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay, Mumbai. Siting activities for a planned repository are focused in the northwest Rajasthan region of India.
Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) is responsible for ensuring the safe, long-term management of vitrified high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive wastes (the latter is termed TRU waste in Japan) from Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle. The R&D for geological disposal of these wastes are supported by relevant organizations, including the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), which is operating off-site underground research laboratories in both crystalline rock and sedimentary rock.
NUMO has been promoting the siting process since its establishment in 2000. After the great Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi accident, a range of discussions were held to reconstruct the geological disposal program at the government level.
The Basic Policy Plan according to the Designated Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Act was amended in May 2015. This included a siting strategy, in which the Government of Japan will play a proactive role by nominating “scientifically favourable areas” to assist in resolving the issue of high-level radioactive and TRU waste disposal. In addition, there is a plan to help regional populations, and the Japanese public as a whole, to understand the geological disposal program. A detailed geological map, including exclusion areas, was released in 2017 for public review and discussion. NUMO expects site selection about 2025, with repository operation from about 2035.
The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) was established in the 1970s to manage Swedish spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in a safe way. Sweden currently has six operational nuclear power plants, with roughly 40 per cent of its electricity coming from nuclear power.
SKB’s siting process for the spent fuel repository began in the early 1990s. In 2009, after years of feasibility studies, Oskarshamn was chosen as the host municipality of the interim storage facility and encapsulation facility, and the Forsmark site in Östhammar was selected as the host municipality of the final repository.In 2011, SKB applied for a deep geological repository construction licence application. On August 26, 2021, the Swedish government approved the application for an increased storage licence of the interim storage facility in Oskarshamn. This aspect is with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Land and Environment Court for further examination.
In 2022, SKB received approval from the government regarding the encapsulation facility in Oskarshamn and the final repository in Östhammar. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority had also stated their firm support of the suggested solution. Oskarshamn and Östhammar have officially accepted the establishment of the encapsulation plant and final repository in their respective municipalities.
Nagra is responsible for the safe management of Switzerland’s used nuclear fuel. It also engages in co-operative research with other national nuclear waste management organizations around the globe. Switzerland currently has five operational nuclear power plants, with 40 per cent of its electricity coming from nuclear power.
Nagra’s siting process began in 1972. Zürcher Weinland was originally identified as a potential siting region. However, in 2005, the Swiss government requested that Nagra identify other alternative regions. In 2007, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy issued a “Sectoral Plan for Geological Repositories” for public review. The Swiss Federal Council approved the strategic part of the plan.
At the end of 2018, after a period of public consultation, Nagra officially entered the last stage of their site selection process, with detailed site investigations of three siting regions. Nagra announced in 2022 that Switzerland’s used nuclear fuel for the long-term with be stored at Nördlich Lägern, which is located north of Zurich. It expects to submit a general licence application by 2026.
TheNuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is tasked with implementing government policy on higher activity radioactive waste and developing a low-level waste strategy. It engages in co-operative research with other national radioactive waste management organizations around the globe.
In 2007, the NDA established the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate to develop a geological disposal solution. In 2014, Radioactive Waste Management Directorate became a separate company – Radioactive Waste Management Limited – a wholly owned subsidiary of NDA with the specific task of implementing geological disposal.
In January 2018, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a new siting process, beginning with community consultations to explore views on the approach to planning and selecting a site for a geological disposal facility in partnership with potential willing host communities.
In November 2021, the first of two community partnerships was formed in Copeland, Cumbria, to take forward discussions around siting a geological disposal facility (GDF) for high-level radioactive waste. A second partnership is expected to be formed soon in neighbouring South Copeland.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is dedicated to safe disposal of waste, including the safe and efficient management of spent nuclear fuel for disposal in a geologic repository. The United States currently has 104 operational nuclear power plants, with 19 per cent of its electricity coming from nuclear power.
The DOE engaged in a screening of nine candidate sites from 1983 to 1986. In 1987, Congress directed it to study only one site, Yucca Mountain, located near a nuclear weapons test site in Nevada. In 2002, the Secretary of Energy recommended Yucca Mountain to the President. While the President approved the site, the State of Nevada strongly opposed it.
In 2009, the government indicated that Yucca Mountain was no longer an option. A Blue Ribbon Commission was formed to provide recommendations for developing a safe, long-term method to manage nuclear waste. In 2013, the Administration issued its Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste, a framework for moving toward a sustainable program for managing the country’s used fuel.
A new siting process, labelled “consent-based siting,” was being developed by the DOE. However, this was cancelled by 2017-2020 federal administration, and attempts were made to revive the Yucca Mountain project.
The current federal administration is reviewing options and developing a new plan.
The National Operator for Radioactive Waste Management (NO RWM) is the responsible national operator for the Russian nuclear waste management program.
In 2008, the Nizhnekansky Rock Massif at Zheleznogorsk in Krasnoyarsk Territory was proposed as the location of the deep geological repository for high level waste and used nuclear fuel. In 2016, the site was approved. Construction of the repository will only occur after a period of research using an Underground Research Laboratory, which is currently under construction at the site.
JAVYS (Nuclear and Decommissioning Company) is the implementer of the site selection process for a deep geological repository for Slovakia's used nuclear fuel. There are two sites undergoing detailed site investigations.
Slovakia is also considering the option of participating in a shared international repository project.
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