Ondraf, Belgium’s National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials, defended its decision to opt have highly radioactive waste buried in passive landfills at the presentation of its quinquennial inventory on Monday. The site, which has not yet been selected, should receive its first waste around 2070, Ondraf Director General Marc Demarche said.
The agency’s board of directors in February validated the principle of geographical stockpiling on Belgian soil, thereby arousing the anger of the Ecolo party and the head of its faction in the Chamber, Jean-Marc Nollet.
“The planning is subject to caution”, Demarche said, pointing out that this type of landfill is “considered the only safe option at the international level.” The evolution of society and climate change in the next 100 years being imponderables, “only the subsurface guarantees safety”, said the Ondraf head.
Demarche released further details on Monday of the procedure for building the installations. A political decision will now have to be made on the project. The site is to be chosen by 2035, following a participatory process aimed at involving the social actors in developing the project. Applications for authorisations are to be submitted in 2045 and should be approved by 2050.
The first waste, Category B waste (with weak and medium activity and a long half-life) will be stocked on the site. The more radioactive Category C waste would have to wait until 2110, according to Ondraf’s estimates.
For short-duration waste, an above-ground stockage site is under construction in Dessel, Limburg Province. It will be operational in 2023.