Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities (WPLDF)
A meeting of the Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities (WPLDF) (November 2023)

Many NEA member countries are engaged in the development of deep geological repositories (DGRs) for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. DGR projects for radioactive waste containing long-lived radionuclides raise specific nuclear liability issues in light of the nature of the potential risks they represent and the very long timescales that need to be considered. Such issues – in particular the application of the nuclear liability regime(s) to post-closure phase – are also relevant to other types of installations for the disposal of nuclear substances, including near-surface disposal facilities. 

In 2016, the Nuclear Law Committee (NLC) therefore established the Working Party on Deep Geological Repositories and Nuclear Liability (WPDGR), with a view to assess how the existing nuclear liability regimes should apply to DGR projects. On the occasion of the renewal of the WPDGR mandate for 2022-2025, a decision was made to extend the WPDGR scope of work beyond DGRs to cover other types of radioactive waste disposal facilities and modify the name of the Working Party to “Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities” (WPLDF).

At present, the WPLDF has been given the mandate to:  

  • enhance common understanding among legal and technical experts of the long-term risks presented by facilities for the disposal of radioactive waste and their relationship to nuclear liability regimes;
  • assess the technical and radiological aspects of DGR and other radioactive waste disposal facilities that must be taken into account when addressing nuclear liability issues; and
  • examine and assess how nuclear liability regime(s) and the relevant financial security requirements should be applied to DGR and, if appropriate, to other radioactive waste disposal facilities throughout the pre- and post-closure phases, considering the current management practices for radioactive waste.

Reflecting the holistic nature of its mission, the WPLDF is composed of experts in the fields of nuclear civil liability, radioactive waste management and radiological protection from NEA member countries, as well as of representatives of the European Commission and of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Several WPLDF members are also delegates within the NLC, Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) and Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH).

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