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Timing of High-level Waste Disposal

image of Timing of High-level Waste Disposal

This study identifies key factors influencing the timing of high-level waste (HLW) disposal and examines how social acceptability, technical soundness, environmental responsibility and economic feasibility impact on national strategies for HLW management and disposal. Based on case study analyses, it also presents the strategic approaches adopted in a number of national policies to address public concerns and civil society requirements regarding long-term stewardship of high-level radioactive waste. The findings and conclusions of the study confirm the importance of informing all stakeholders and involving them in the decision-making process in order to implement HLW disposal strategies successfully.

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Conclusions

Nuclear Energy Agency

Regardless of future R&D and technological developments and of whether national policies are to phase out or continue with nuclear power, repositories for the disposal of HLW will be needed to deal with existing wastes. As demand for nuclear power appears to be expanding globally, even further efforts are needed to implement HLW disposal in a timely manner, up to and including final disposal. A key challenge for the nuclear industry is timely implementation of final disposal by providing the site-specific safety assessment that shows that HLW can be safely disposed of, and at the same time achieving the necessary public acceptance through participation in an open and transparent decision-making process. It is clear from the Eurobarometer 2005 and its 2006 update data that public concern with respect to radioactive waste disposal is a key factor in reducing public support for nuclear energy in general (cf. Chapter 3). One of the major factors dictating the long timescales for achieving final repositories is a failure to further improve public trust and confidence, and involve the public in the selection of the proposed solutions.

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