Research into radioactive waste disposal could cost Belgium up to €1.75 billion

Research into radioactive waste disposal could cost Belgium up to €1.75 billion
Nuclear waste. Credit: Belga

The research to find a disposal solution for all nuclear waste in Belgium has already cost around €500 million since 1974 and the total cost could run up to €1.75 billion in the next three decades.

Between 2021 and 2050, researching the feasibility and safety of the geological storage of nuclear waste could cost another €1.25 billion, according to estimates from NIRAS, the national agency that manages all radioactive waste in Belgium and develops solutions to process and store it.

"€500 million for 47 years of research, without concrete results since there is still no definitive solution to the nuclear waste of which future generations will have to take care for at least 300,000 years," said Ecolo MP Samuel Cogolati, who asked Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten about the cost during Tuesday's Parliamentary Commission on climate.

As there is still no national policy for long-term management of high-level radioactive waste, the research could cost another €1.25 billion, which is "more than the total cost for the research and development of all wind and solar energy projects in Belgium," Cogolati added.

In line with a law dating from 1980, the cost for this research and the development of a solution should be fully covered by the producers of nuclear waste.

However, the federal government spends around €100 million to finance the entire nuclear liabilities clean-up costs - the costs arising from the decommissioning of the nuclear installations - of three sites, including those of Belgoprocess, the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) and the Belgian nuclear research centre SCK CEN.

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