New Belgian and Dutch waste storage facilities planned

05 March 2021

Construction of a new facility for the storage of low-level radioactive waste has begun at the Dessel site in Belgium. Meanwhile, a new storage facility for low and intermediate-level waste is planned at the Netherlands' centralised radioactive waste processing and storage facility.

The planned facility for the storage of low-level waste drums at Dessel (Image: Ondraf)

Ondraf/Niras, the Belgian agency for the management of radioactive waste, said construction of the Dessel facility began recently. The building will house the drums of low-level waste that present a risk of frost formation.

In 2013, during a routine inspection in a storage building, frost flow was observed on a number of low-level waste drums. Ondraf immediately launched an intensive research programme, which showed that the gel formation was due to a chemical reaction in the concrete that coats the waste rather than a radiological reaction.

Ondraf and its industrial subsidiary Belgoprocess decided to house all the drums presenting a risk of frost formation in a separate storage building. This building will allow the safe storage, inspection and control of waste drums. In the meantime, research continues on how to handle these barrels over the long term.

At the end of last year, Belgoprocess obtained nuclear authorisation from the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control. The environmental permit had previously already been granted.

The first drums of waste are expected to be placed in the new facility within about three years.

New Dutch facility

The Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (Covra) has announced plans for a new multi-functional storage building for low and intermediate-level waste. It said the extra storage space is required because the current storage building is starting to fill up.

The new facility is intended for the storage of waste currently held on the site of medical isotope producer NRG in Petten and for future dismantling waste. The building also potentially offers space for residual waste from a plasma oven to be built.

In order to construct the new building, the current permit under the Nuclear Energy Act must be amended. From the point of view of transparency and openness, Covra has decided to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for this change through an extensive consultation procedure. It said the notification for the EIS is currently being finalised. This note is being drawn up in order to receive advice on exactly how in-depth the report should be, and to inform the public about the intended expansion on the Covra site.

Covra noted the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) will assess the notification. There will also be advice from the Committee for Environmental Impact Assessment. The final environmental impact report will be drawn up on the basis of feedback from these parties and the results of the public consultation. Covra said it expects to receive the advisory memorandum from ANVS within six to 12 weeks.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News