Radioactive waste is generated not only within Member States that use nuclear power to produce electricity, but also for many other activities: medicine, research, industry and agriculture. Radioactive waste may also arise after the decommissioning of nuclear installations. Radiation sources radioactive waste is potentially hazardous to the environment and subsequently, public health. A safe and long-term management of radioactive waste is therefore a challenge for all Member States, regardless of their energy policy.
While low and medium-level nuclear waste such as from medical equipment is increasingly being taken care of, there is not yet a single final repository for intermediate-level and high-level radioactive waste, such as spent fuel from nuclear power plants. In all likelihood, the first deposits of this type will open between 2020 and 2025 in several EU Member States. Currently, fourteen EU countries currently produce spent fuel, which can take millions of years to decay.
RWM working group
Since NTW was established at the end of 2013, one of the activities developed has been within radioactive waste management (RWM). A working group was established at an early date by a core group of NTW member. The RWM working group is, led by Johan Swahn, Director of the Swedish NGO, MKG and member of the Management Board of NTW. This working group is the opportunity to create a high-level network of civil society representatives and independent experts that work on RWM issues. The RWM working group interacts both on a European, national, regional and local levels.
The BEPPER Project
One of the first projects developed within the NTW RWM working group is a project on improving transparency – public information and participation – named the BEPPER project. The acronym stands for “Broad framework for Effective Public Participation in Environmental decision-making in Radioactive waste management”. The aim of the project is to describe, from the perspectives of environmental NGOs, an effective transparency and public participation regimes in the area of spent fuel and radioactive waste management. The long-term aim of the BEPPER project is facilitate the engagement of well-resourced and enduring local, national and international environmental NGOs in Transparency (public information and participation) processes. Such engagement could achieve higher-quality decision-making and increased nuclear safety in RWM.
In the BEPPER project there has been developed the “NTW BEPPER framework” describing the levels of transparency that can provide an evolving measuring instrument to evaluate national transparency practices. These are described in a report that will be published on this web page.
In autumn 2014, a consortium under the auspices of Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW) successfully competed for a tender from the European Commission to write a report on transparency and public information and participation (PIP) in the field of radioactive waste management (RWM). The consortium will use the results of the NTW BEPPER project in the report.
The NTW BEPPER project is collaborating with a wide European network of national and local NGOs and other national experts with experience of public information and participation in the nuclear field. Nuclear Transparency Watch had a two-day meeting (8th and 9th April) in Brussels with NGOs to discuss PIP in RWM. There will be a new meeting on August 27 in Paris.