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Statement of 2019 Annual Meeting of EDRAM

Delegates of EDRAM Member organizations, ANDRA, BGE, DOE, ENRESA, NAGRA, NUMO, NWMO, ONDRAF/NIRAS, POSIVA, RWM and SKB gathered in Madrid, Spain, June 11-13, 2019, for the EDRAM 2019 annual meeting. During the two-day meeting, the delegates exchanged information and opinions on relationship between regulator and implementer, knowledge management and monitoring among others. Each country updated the progress and status of national programmes.

1.      Relationship between Regulator and Implementer

Delegates exchanged information on relationship between regulator and implementer during the development of geological disposal of the HLW/SF until a site is identified. For some countries the compilation of their national report to the Review Meeting to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (Joint Convention) and its review at the meeting at the IAEA provided a good opportunity to have interaction between the regulator and implementer.  It was recognized that there still needs some effort enhancing interaction between regulator and implementer nationally such as developing appropriate plans for regulatory engagement as well as establishing arrangements for the regulator and implementer to learn from other countries in an advanced stage of development.

2.     Knowledge Management (KM)

The KM working group was created based on a shared concern that key knowledge in the waste management organizations (WMOs) is at risk as their projects are long term projects and all business knowledge may not be needed all through the project. The missions of the group are to develop a capacity aiming at addressing the full scope of the WM knowledge ecosystem and network as an operating mode between WMOs in order to facilitate collective long-term learning & competences sourcing. The group reviewed the answers to Questionnaire to the members and identified common concerns and issues such as KM governance & strategy, KM culture, review of critical knowledge, management of subcontractors’ knowledge and knowledge circulation within national ecosystems (TSO, producer…).

3. Monitoring 

Monitoring is continuous or periodic observations and measurements to help evaluate the behavior of the components of a waste disposal system and the impact of the waste disposal system on the public and the environment. It includes measurement of radiological, environmental and engineering parameters (IAEA Safety Standard). Recognizing the main outcomes from the MODERN2020 project that aims at providing a framework for the development and possible implementation of monitoring and associated stakeholder engagement during operational phases of the radioactive waste disposal process, monitoring plan/strategies were discussed. Key aspects to consider for a monitoring strategy were identified as where, what, when, how and for whom to monitor. Use of the monitoring data was discussed in decision making process and stakeholder perspective during the pre-construction period, construction and operational period and post-closure period.

4. Country Update 


Preparation of surface disposal facility is ongoing. Decision of the disposal site was made by government in 2006. The disposal concept was elaborated through partnership with local community. Regarding the geological disposal, no decision has been made yet. As foreseen by Royal Decree, ONDRAF/NIRAS prepares a proposal for decision which will be submitted to public consultation in 2020.


For High Level Waste (HLW) site selection is on-going. In the North Western Ontario drilling of two boreholes (ca.1km) are in progress and consultation with Indigenous people for three more boreholes are underway. NWMO’s expects to narrow down the 5 sites to 2 sites in 2019 and select preferred site in 2023.


Design configuration of reference was frozen for environmental and safety assessment. Following the critical design review license application is planned in 2020. Construction license granted by decree is expected in 2024/2025 after a minimum three-year instruction. Public debate on the waste management plan is on-going, starting in April 2019 till September 2019 (5 months).


Full Scale In-Situ System Test (FISST) has been installed according to requirements. Works in ONKALO are proceeding, e.g. excavation of central tunnel was started, canister hoisting shaft boring was completed, and contractor for civil work of encapsulation plant was selected. Industrialization strategy was updated, production process was defined and decision-making to implement nuclear waste facilities is ongoing.


Reorganization of responsibilities for nuclear waste disposal has been done for L/ILW and HLW. For HLW disposal, three phases are planned. In Phase I a transparent publication / selection of sub-areas (2020) and siting regions are planned. In Phase II, surface exploration will be carried out, and underground exploration is planned in Phase III. After Phase III, the site will be determined in 2031. Current main challenges are presented by the analysis of the very diverse data and the legal situation surrounding their publication. At the moment, the public is being informed about the site selection procedure. After publication of the sub-areas, formal processes of public participation will commence.

Progress is being made at the other sites, Konrad, Asse Mine and Morsleben.


Following the publication of Nationwide Map of Scientific Feature for Geological Disposal in July 2017, NUMO together with the government, METI, strengthen the information provision to the nationwide citizens. In November 2018 NUMO published generic safety case report and its peer review by Atomic Energy Society of Japan is in progress. Review by OECD/NEA is planned in 2020.


ENRESA’s strategy for SF and HLW disposal takes the DGR as the reference solution and it has been the focus of many of the efforts already done by the agency. Currently the work is oriented to report the stock of existing information while it is expected that during the period 2020-2025 the most relevant aspects of the DGR generic design, site assessment methodology and safety assessment methodology will be updated.


For licensing, two laws are applied, namely Nuclear Activities Act (handled by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority or SSM) and Environmental Code (handled by Land and Environmental court). Both SSM and Environmental court issued statements to the government in January 2018. It is expected that the government approves the application after having consulted with two municipalities involved.


In Switzerland, the federal government’s decision on Stage 2 of the site selection process was published on 21 November 2018. The selected regions for further investigations in Stage 3 are Jura Ost, Nördlich Lägern and Zürich Nordost. An extensive drilling campaign has been initiated, 23 drilling permits being submitted by Nagra. Drilling operations started in March in Bülach (Nördlich Lägern) while preparations are ongoing at two other sites. In November 2018, the Waste Management Programme 2016 and the corresponding RD&D Plan were also approved by the government. The next updates are due in 2021.


One of the key achievements of GDF in 2018/2019 was the publication of “Working with Communities Policy” by the UK Government. The English policy was published on 19 December 2018 and the Welsh policy was published on 16 January 2019. RWM produced four documents, namely Introduction to Geological Disposal, Community guidance, Site Evaluation and Site Evaluation Consultation in summer 2019.  Work is now proceeding on an engagement and evaluation plan to identify potential sites.


At WIPP, 156 shipments of waste were received in fiscal year 2019. With respect to the SF/HLW disposal, although funding was requested in the President’s Budget, Congress did not appropriate funding, so there was no progress.