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Flag Netherlands, Kingdom of the

Netherlands

Netherlands, Kingdom of the

Map Netherlands, Kingdom of the

   Introduction

(Note: the following information was provided by the Country Coordinator for the Netherlands)


The Netherlands has a small nuclear power programme. Only one nuclear power plant (NPP) is in operation. This is the NPP Borssele (PWR, Siemens/KWU design 515 MWe). This plant has been in operation since 1973 and is scheduled to remain operational until 2033. Another NPP, the Dodewaard plant (BWR, GE design, 60 MWe) has been shut down since 1997. It is now in the safe enclosure stage of decommissioning.

Furthermore, there are three research reactors in operation: the High Flux Reactor (HFR, 50 MWth) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Low Flux Reactor (LFR, 30 kWth), both located in Petten; and the Higher Education Reactor (HOR, 3 MWth) at the Reactor Institute Delft of the Delft University of Technology. The replacement of the old HFR facility (PALLAS project) is in the planning phase.

In addition to these research reactors, the world’s second largest production facility for medical radioisotopes is in operation at the Petten site. An enrichment facility of the international URENCO group is successfully operating and enlarging in capacity in Almelo.

The presence of these diverse activities results in the generation of various types of radioactive waste in addition to spent nuclear fuel (SNF).

Radioactive Waste Management Policy

Long-term storage of radioactive waste and SNF is an essential element of the policy to manage radioactive waste and SNF in the Netherlands. This policy was established in the early 1980’s and has been fully implemented.

All the SNF from the two NPPs is currently and will continue to be reprocessed. For the SNF from the research reactors, reprocessing is not foreseen. The high groundwater table in the Netherlands disfavours the use of shallow land burial for short-lived radioactive waste, so ultimately all categories of radioactive waste must be placed in a deep geologic repository. This solution will only be implemented when both enough waste is available and there is adequate financing. There are only two practical ways to fulfil these two requirements; sharing a repository with another country, or waiting sufficiently long to generate enough waste (and money) to favour the economics of a single repository only for the Netherlands.

The current policy specifies that all radioactive waste shall be stored above ground in engineered structures that allow retrieval at all times for a period of at least 100 years. Thereafter, geological disposal is foreseen as a final step in management. The choice to store for a long time was well considered and was not taken as a ‘wait and see’ option. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that integral parts of the policy are: 1) the establishment of a capital growth fund for future maintenance and disposal, and 2) centralization of waste ownership within COVRA. This policy does not leave an undue burden of waste generated today to future generations. Only the execution of the disposal action is left as a task for the future. This policy is based on a step-wise decision process in which all decisions are taken to ensure safe disposal in a repository, but without excluding alternative solutions in the future.

Responsible Organizations

Radioative waste management is regulated by the Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer (Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment)

The Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste, COVRA N.V., is a government-owned corporation that is required by law to be the sole responsible party for management of radioactive waste in the Netherlands. Any company in the Netherlands, licensed to work with radioactive materials under the Nuclear Energy Act, is bound by law to tender its waste to COVRA. COVRA accepts ownership and full liability for radioactive waste transferred to its jurisdiction. COVRA also collects and ships all radioactive waste.

Strategy

Implementation of the radioactive waste management policy is the task of COVRA N.V., the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste.

COVRA has a disposal site available (~25 ha) at the industrial area Vlissingen-Oost in Zeeland. Information on the siting process, licensing, construction, and practical experience can be found in the literature, in the NEWMDB, or at www.covra.nl

Long-term storage requirements were taken into account in the design of all facilities. All storage facilities are modular and the available site offers enough space for the current inventory plus all waste expected to be produced in the next hundred years.

  Regulators

  Facilities Summary

*) Volume "as dispo" is an estimate of the final disposal gross volume of waste currently in interim storage. Note that if volume "as dispo" is not provided, it's assumed to be the same "as is".