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Global consensus on best way forward

September 7, 2022

Experts and scientists from around the world agree the safest long-term solution for radioactive waste is geological disposal.
A number of countries, including Sweden, Finland, France, Canada and Switzerland, have already implemented or are developing
plans for this process, which involves isolating such waste many hundreds of metres underground.

In Canada, developers Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) began the process of selecting a site for their project
back in 2010. A total of 22 municipalities and Indigenous communities initially expressed interest in learning more and exploring the potential to host a site. Today, NWMO is engaging with two potential siting areas. The project will proceed only by working with the interested communities. Technical teams from NWMO have just successfully completed a full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that will safely contain and isolate Canada’s used nuclear fuel.

Historic decision
Meanwhile, the Swedish Government has approved the building of a GDF in Forsmark, Östhammar Municipality. This historic decision means Sweden is proceeding with plans for a GDF being developed by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB). In Switzerland, Nagra (the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste)
will be ready to announce its siting proposal by the autumn. The lead in the site selection process lies with the Federal Government, but the Federal Council and Swiss Parliament will have the final say – or, if the decision is put to a national referendum, Swiss voters will. In Finland, Posiva Oy is the first nuclear waste management organisation in the world to start final disposal of spent nuclear fuel by 2025, using the Onkalo® facility.

Why we need to think long-Term
Neil Hyatt, former Professor of Nuclear Materials Chemistry at the University of Sheffield, and since December 2021 the Chief Scientific Advisor to Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), said: “Technically, it is feasible to repackage the waste every few decades and build new stores. However, this is effectively kicking the can down a never-ending road.

“It would be leaving the cost, risk and responsibility of managing
and safely disposing waste to future generations who did not benefit from the energy generation.” A GDF will be nearly 1,000
metres below the ground – more than half a mile. Expert engineering and many barriers of stable rock will safely contain the waste for many thousands of years.