The Belgian agency for radioactive waste and enriched fissile materials (Ondraf) is offering long-term geological storage in poorly indurated clay as a national policy for highly radioactive and/or long-lived waste, they announced on Friday. A national policy of long-term management for Category A waste (short-lived low and intermediate level waste) is already being implemented in Belgium since 2006. Specifically, Ondraf is working closely with local communities to organise above-ground storage.
With regards Category B and Category C waste, highly radioactive and/or long-lived waste, a first milestone is about to be reached. “The supervisory board of Ondraf has instructed the managing director to make suggestions to the supervisory authority for a basic national policy for Categories B and C waste. Geological storage in poorly indurated clay is offered as the best long-term solution in this respect, entirely compatible with the 2011 Waste Plan, which deals quite thoroughly with alternative options for waste management and which was submitted for comments to the general public,” announced Ondraf in a press release.
The organisation also mentions “40+-year-long” research showing that geological storage in poorly indurated clay (Boom clay or Ypresian clay) was “a safe, achievable, and suitable solution.”
A political decision in favour of geological storage is only the first step, says Ondraf. The next stage is the elaboration by Ondraf of rules for reversibility, recoverability, and supervision. The third pillar in this long-term process is choosing a site, but “we have not reached that stage yet,” they add.
“As soon as the government approves the basic tenants of this national policy, Ondraf will put in place a cautious and incremental decision-making process to involve the Belgian population more closely in the management of highly radioactive and/or long-lived waste material,” says Ondraf, highlighting that the setting up of a social foundation for the storage of waste implies “a decision-making process which is transparent and participatory and which involves everyone concerned at every stage.”