Advancing Development of Disposal Solutions in Radioactive Waste Management

Momentum in regards to disposal solutions for radioactive waste has rapidly picked up over the last five years. Several countries have entered the licensing phase of establishing a deep geological repository (DGR), more low-level and intermediate-level disposal facilities are being constructed, while significant advances have been made with new technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs) and generation IV reactors. At the same time, public policy efforts have emphasised the use of nuclear power in an attempt to reach net zero, and key stakeholders have become more active in their support towards disposal solutions. 

In support of these advances, the safety case has become an essential tool to engage stakeholders and enhance decision making in the establishment of disposal solutions for low-level, intermediate-level and high-level radioactive waste. Managing radioactive waste requires a vast skill set and long-term strategy to maintain a comprehensive transfer of knowledge, information and liabilities across present and future generations. Development of a safety case is a gradual process, and new knowledge, information, and requirements gained at each stage of developing a disposal facility helps inform new decisions, as well as review decisions taken during previous stages. 

In this context, the NEA in co-operation with the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency (ANDR) of Romania, Westinghouse and the Sustainable Fuel Association of Romania, organised a two-day workshop Advancing Development of Disposal Solutions in Radioactive Waste Management. Held on 14-15 June 2023 in Bucharest, Romania, the event brought together key stakeholders to discuss experiences in developing radioactive waste disposal programmes.

Workshop objectives
  • Share experiences and knowledge in developing and implementing final disposal policy for low-level, intermediate-level and high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.
  • Advance development of disposal solutions in low and intermediate radioactive waste management through further reflection on best practices.
  • Identify necessary elements to develop a safety case covering all stages of repository programmes.
  • Establish a common understanding on shared approaches and methods for development, documentation and evaluation of the safety case by the regulator, implementer, and R&D organisations, with an emphasis on strategic and methodological issues.
  • Promote exchange of information, strengthen international co-operation, and identify potential opportunities for novel R&D and international co-operation.
  • Discuss ways in which to engage key stakeholders more effectively.