European Commission reports on national radioactive waste plans

On 15 May, the European Commission published its first implementation report under the radioactive waste Directive 2011/70/EURATOM on the national radioactive waste reports and programmes.

The report and its two staff working documents can be found here. They  can also be downloaded using the links at the end of this article.

 Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW) vice-chair Jan Haverkamp comments:

 “The report of the European Commission on the situation of radioactive waste in the EU member states makes for humbling reading. The often-made statement that we are creating a nuclear legacy for which we are not sufficiently prepared can hardly get a better illustration.

 The Commission concludes that there is still inadequate overview of current existing amounts of radioactive waste in Europe, and an estimate of future radioactive waste is fully missing because most member states have not taken this into account for upcoming decommissioning of old nuclear reactors or did not (yet) calculate this for plans for new nuclear investments. Given the fact that storage and disposal of low- and intermediate waste demands large efforts, and that a disposal solution for high level waste is still not operating anywhere in the world, this sheds doubts on the responsibility that the nuclear industry and authorities are taking in their nuclear plans.

 There needs to be full transparency about the production and management of this type of dangerous wastes. The problems Europe is facing with it, insufficient funding everywhere; insufficient safety precautions in some places; no existing solution in place anywhere, and an overoptimistic depiction of attempts in Finland, Sweden and France – should be more openly and honestly reflected in the justification of nuclear decisions. The public should be informed honestly and transparently about uncertainties and problems and given a chance to submit its concerns, viewpoints and questions before any decision is taken about the production of new radioactive waste, for instance in new nuclear projects and life-time extensions of existing ones, and in further projects for management of radioactive wastes. Only in this way we can reduce the chance that that future generations will fall victim to this generation’s nuclear legacy.

 Issues of large concern include the lack of sufficient funds for radioactive waste management, the lack of reflection on there not being any final disposal technologies implemented for high-level waste, the tendency of half of the Member States to want to find final solutions outside of their own borders.

 We furthermore notice that the Commission shies away from its obligation as guardian of the Treaties to point out to the Member States that they have an obligation under the Aarhus Convention to take the information in this report and procedures including public participation into account not only in future reporting (as the Commission requires now), but above all in concrete decisions, among others concerning new nuclear projects and life-time extension of existing programmes. Reports do not reduce nuclear risks – implementation of the findings does.”

 The national reports on which the Commission based its conclusions can be found here.


REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION on progress of implementation of Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM and an inventory of radioactive waste and spent fuel present in the Community’s territory and the future prospects, May 15, 2017

 SWD(2017) 161 final: COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT Inventory of radioactive waste and spent fuel present in the Community’s territory and the future prospects, May 15, 2017

 SWD(2017) 159 final: COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT Progress of implementation of Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM, May 15, 2017