Waste Management and Decommissioning

6.1. INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES

There are still major issues associated with the disposal of nuclear waste. There are bodies of opinion within the nuclear industry, regulators and many experts that believe solutions exist for all stages, but there is considerable public mistrust. This is fuelled since in many countries, there is no position on the final disposal strategy for long lived high-level waste, i. e. only temporary solutions are in place and there is no long-term policy. However, forward progress is happening in the US, Finland and Sweden where repositories are now being considered. Good progress has already been made towards the incarceration of low and intermediate waste in final long-term repositories.

The nuclear industry in common with all other industries has facilities that eventually come to the end of their productive life. Decommissioning of these facilities is then required, which involves the safe disposal of various hazardous materials. Such activities are carried out as a normal practice in an on-going nuclear energy programme and much experience has already been gained from a programme that has already been in operation for over 50 years. However, many present day reactors built in the 60s and 70s are now approaching the end of their design life and therefore decommissioning activities will increase over the next few years. This chapter also considers the key issues of decommissioning, including a review of different options that are being adopted and the impact on costs.

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