Where do we stand as far as storage of radioactive waste is concerned?

In Belgium, NIRAS/ONDRAF (the Belgian Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile materials) is charged with radioactive waste management. This includes among others the inventory, the collection and the transport, the processing, the interim storage and the long-term management of radioactive waste, as well as missions concerning decommissioning and management of enriched fissile materials. More information on NIRAS/ONDRAF and radioactive waste management can be found on their website: http://www.nirond.be./

 In short, the situation of radioactive waste management is as follows:

 Pending a solution for long-term management, the radioactive waste is temporarily stored on the Belgoprocess site in Dessel (Province of Antwerp). The buildings are specifically designed appropriate to the type of waste they contain. For more information on this interim storage we refer to the Belgoprocess website: http://www.belgoprocess.be/.

 In Belgium, such interim storage is not accepted as a permanent solution. Therefore, NIRAS/ONDRAF examines the possibility for a final destination of the radioactive waste. We then speak of disposal of the radioactive waste. One of the main concerns is to find a safe solution, acceptable from the viewpoint of protection of the population and the environment, without any burden for future generations. The possible disposal solutions depend on the characteristics of the radioactive waste. Short-lived low-level waste can be considered for surface disposal as well as deep underground disposal. For long-lived high-level waste, only deep underground disposal is suitable. NIRAS/ONDRAF has an extensive research programme for the examination of the feasibility of these disposal solutions and for the development of concrete propositions.

 Discussions are taking place between NIRAS/ONDRAF and the Safety Authority FANC on the safety analyses of disposal of radioactive waste.

 The Study Centre for Nuclear energy (SCK/CEN) in Mol also has an elaborate research programme on the various aspects of radioactive waste management. More information can be found on the SCK/CEN website: http://www.sckcen.be/.

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