The Austrian Federal Constitutional Law on Non-Nuclear Austria prohibits any kind of handling of nuclear weapons and related facilities as well as the construction and use of facilities for production of energy by nuclear fission on the Austrian territory. In line with Austria’s attitude towards nuclear power no facilities for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management are operated in Austria. However, all other categories of radioactive waste have to be transported, treated, conditioned, and stored applying the same safety standards and techniques used for larger quantities of waste.
Compared to countries producing nuclear power, only very small quantities of various categories of radioactive waste arise in Austria. To keep the prices for treatment, conditioning and interim storage at an acceptable level the Austrian State provides for the technical infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment of Nuclear Engineering Seibersdorf GmbH (NES), the only waste management facility in Austria.
Since 2003, Austria’s radioactive waste management policy follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Producers of radioactive waste are legally responsible for the safe management and disposal of the waste they generate. They have to bear the costs of treatment, interim storage and, in addition, contribute to a special, separated fund, which is exclusively dedicated to the future final disposal and administered by Austrian national authorities. This final disposal fee (“Vorsorgeentgelt”) comprises the costs for the future transfer to a final repository, for a possible additional treatment required by the final repository waste acceptance criteria, and for long term stewardship of the final repository. This fee is estimated based on fees assessed by several existing repositories abroad. Should the funds prove insufficient to cover the actual costs of final disposal at a later time despite of due state-of-the-art estimation, the Austrian state will cover the difference.
Concerning sealed sources - both spent and disused - the preferred management option is the return to the manufacturer. If disused sources cannot be returned to the manufacturer and recycling (i.e. reuse by a third party) is also not possible, they have to be delivered to Nuclear Engineering Seibersdorf GmbH for conditioning and interim storage.
The Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management is the competent licensing and supervisory authority with respect to radiation protection for the construction and operation of major nuclear facilities other than for medical use. This also includes the management of radioactive waste and the waste management facility in Austria, NES.