The Belgian Government this week received two recommendations: that geological disposal was the best way to dispose of the country’s most radioactive waste, and that the best way to determine where the waste was geologically disposed would be through a collective national discussion and decision.
The recommendations come from ONDRAF, Belgium’s nuclear waste management organisation, as they published their latest updated estimates of the costs of dismantling Belgium’s nuclear facilities and safely disposing of the different types of radioactive waste.
Belgium has already decided to phase out nuclear power (anticipated by 2025), and is now working through how to manage that process. Most radioactive waste, by volume, will be disposed at a new surface facility in Dessel, which is proceeding with the support of the local community. However, some waste remains hazardous for many thousands of years, and ONDRAF’s recommendation that that waste needs to be disposed in a deep geological facility is in line with the international approach. ONDRAF’s Chief Executive Marc Demarche believes that a broadly-based societal discussion is required to secure public support:
“The management of radioactive waste is a subject that affects the entire Belgian population. Without societal support, even the strongest technical solution is impossible to defend. This waste is there, it’s a reality. All stakeholders need to be aware of their role in finding a solution to this problem. ONDRAF is committed to informing and involving all stakeholders, so that everyone can agree on a safe, scientifically supported, and technically and financially feasible solution for this generation and all those to come.”
It is not yet known when the Belgian Government will make its decision, but they are expected to approve the launch of a national public discussion. Further information can be found at ONDRAF’s website.