What about nuclear waste? Will citizens have to pay?

To cover the costs for the processing and storage of all radioactive waste and the dismantling of the nuclear power stations, Electrabel has been setting up a reserve for years, the ‘nuclear provisions’.

This reserve is fully funded by the operators of the nuclear power stations and managed by Synatom, an organisation under government supervision. Electrabel plays its part as a professional nuclear operator. The nuclear provisions amounted to 14.1 billion euros at the end of 2020. 

In Belgium, NIRAS (National Institution for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials) and its subsidiary Belgoprocess are responsible for the management of the radioactive waste from nuclear power stations, industrial and medical applications and research centres. The Belgian radioactive waste is processed and stored in the Belgoprocess installations in Dessel. The spent fuel, which comes from the Belgian nuclear power stations, is stored on our sites for a temporary period of time, pending future political decisions which must provide a decision about re-processing or final storage.

The waste from electricity production through nuclear power equates to 0.5 kg per person per year, or the volume of one drinks can. The highly radioactive variant equates to 5 grams per person per year, the equivalent of one thimble. Short-lived waste accounts for 90 % of the total volume of radioactive waste. NIRAS foresees a long-term solution for this waste, with the waste first being encapsulated in concrete in vessels, which in turn are placed in storage containers. These so-called monoliths are finally stored in a surface-storage installation designed for this purpose. For long-lived high-radioactivity materials (1% of the total volume of radioactive waste in Belgium) and for long-lived low- and medium-active waste (9% of the total volume), NIRAS with the cooperation of the Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN) has been examining a solution for geological storage in deep, stable clay layers.

In Belgium, NIRAS and its subsidiary Belgoprocess are responsible for the management of the radioactive waste. 

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