The amount of nuclear waste is growing worldwide. But even 70 years after the beginning of the nuclear age, no country in the world has found a real solution for the radiating legacy of nuclear power.
The final disposal of nuclear waste poses major challenges to governments worldwide. No country has a final disposal site for nuclear waste in operation yet; Finland is the only country that is currently constructing a permanent repository. Most countries have yet develop and implement a functioning waste management strategy for all kinds of nuclear waste. Governments differ widely on their nuclear waste approaches: in trying to find a final repository, how to classify nuclear waste, which safety standards to require from operators, and how to secure funding for the ever-growing costs to pay for all of this. This is the finding of the first World Nuclear Waste Report – Focus Europe.
According to the report, over 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel alone are stored in interim storage facilities across Europe (excluding Russia and Slovakia).
With reactors across the world approaching the end of their lives, decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear power plants will become increasingly important. This process will produce even more radioactive waste. In absence of final disposal sites, most of the high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel must be stored for many decades, challenging the safety requirements for storage facilities and causing much higher costs than previously estimated.
Overall, there is a lack of understanding about how countries around the world are trying to address the complex challenges that nuclear waste poses. The World Nuclear Waste Report aims to change that. This first edition focuses on Europe and presents the latest facts and figures on nuclear waste and its challenges.
Background: The World Nuclear Waste Report – Focus Europe was initiated by Rebecca Harms and written by a dozen international scientists and focuses on Europe. It was my pleasure to serve as the report’s lead editor. This first edition will be translated into French, Czech and Turkish. The initiators intend to publish a follow-up edition in the coming years in order to identify further trends and new developments.