Since radioactive waste management is a long-term issue, costs and availability of funding is a challenge. Costs make a difference depending on which waste disposal method to choose, while available options are replaced by new technologies from time to time. Multi-generational time frames create problems with funding stability, and prolonged delays in making and implementing decisions can increase costs. Therefore, the overall financing strategy based on reliable cost analysis of various waste management options is required for the success of any nuclear energy project.
The NEA identified the economic aspects of radioactive waste management as a key issue decades ago and conducted studies on the cost of high-level radioactive waste repositories and low-level radioactive waste, respectively. Reported cost estimates by member countries were reviewed internationally to provide a better understanding of the origins of the variations in the cost estimates, and to discuss to which extent the technical, political, societal and economic factors could explain the variations.
The work continues under the Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle (NDC) and will be developed further in co-operation with the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) .
The goal of the Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle is to provide authoritative, reliable information on nuclear technologies, economics, strategies and resources to governments for use in policy analyses and decision-making.
Challenges related to extended storage are topical in most countries with mature nuclear programmes. Effort to address this issue is ongoing in individual countries. Available knowledge from member countries is gathered and appraised to identify and assess the impact of technical, safety and regulatory, economic and social factors related to different storage options, fuel types and technical conditions. Strategies to manage waste, i.e. managing the time and phasing of decisions to ensure that the best decisions are made at the right time, are analysed in this context. The main output of the expert group will be a state-of-the-art report.