Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste: State of affairs: a worldwide Overview
|Author||H.Damveld, D.Bannink, WISE|
|Classification||6.01.5.50/86 (WASTE - RADIOACTIVE WASTE GENERAL)|
|Remarks||Special issue of Nuclear Monitor|
From the publication:
Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste State of affairs. A worldwide overview Herman Damveld Dirk Bannink Nuclear Monitor, May 2, 2012 INTRODUCTION „Taking into account the results already achieved, the expected technological developments in the coming years, and above all the existence of a well-established basis for the assessment in numerical terms of radiation hazards, the group are convinced that the optimum development of nuclear energy need not be impeded by radioactive waste management problems which will have to be dealt with". This quote is from the OECD report „Radioactive waste management practices in Western Europe". It is not from the most recent report, although the wording would be the same, but from a report in 1972! Since the beginning of nuclear power the major claim is that there will be a solution for nuclear waste soon, that the waste problem really is not a technical problem but a social problem, but, anyway, we are near a solution. So there is no reason to stop producing it or endanger the future of nuclear energy. But as the authors describe in this worldwide overview, none of the roughly 34 countries with spent fuel (reprocessed or not) from nuclear power reactors have a final disposal facility, be it in deep geological formations or (near) surface. A very large majority of those countries are not even close. Some postpone the need for final disposal by long term interim storage of up to 100 years; and other countries use (the future option of) reprocessing as an alibi for postponing that decision. As this worldwide overview of the state of affairs shows, siting radioactive waste repositories is seen as one of the main problems due to sociopolitical circumstances. Almost without exception, all radioactive waste management programs state that this generation must solve its own problems and not lay the burden of solving the waste problem on the next generations. But those same programs propose, again almost without exception, to postpone a decision on final disposal and/ or reprocessing into the far-future, and consider interim storage. Fact is that the problem of final disposal of highlevel radioactive waste and/or spent fuel has not been solved, more than half a century after the first commercial nuclear power plants entered into operation and used fuel was unloaded from the reactors. Although we briefly describe the storage and disposal of low and intermediate level waste, the focus of this report is clearly on spent (or 'used') fuel from nuclear power plants. Waste from uranium mining is not even mentioned. It is also not about fuel from research reactors, which is mostly returned to the country of origin.