This paper gives an overview of the Belgian low and intermediate level waste management.
Belgium now has a lot of nuclear installations: 7 power reactors operated by Electrabel, which provide some 60% of the country’s electricity; 3 research reactors operated by SCK/CEN, one of which is now being dismantled; 2 fuel assembly fabrication plants: FBFC producing UO2 and Belgonucléaire producing MOX; 1 fuel reprocessing plant: EUROCHEMIC, now being dismantled; a lot of class 2, 3 and 4 installations.
Apart from these categories, there is also the “nuclear liability” in the form of waste held at the Belgoprocess site, which is owned by the state or by ONDRAF/NIRAS.
With such a variety of installations, the types of waste involved are of course also very varied, ranging from solid waste carrying a risk of pathogens contaminated by tracer materials in hospitals or the pharmaceutical industry, to vitrified waste from the reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
This diversity has led to the construction of a relatively high number of processing and conditioning plants within Belgoprocess.
There are also conditioning installations in both nuclear power stations: cementation of filters, cementation of boron concentrate, and cementation or polymerisation of resins.
Over the past few years the waste producers have put considerable efforts into meeting the ONDRAF/NIRAS requirements for radiological characterisation, i.e. determining the activity of over 20 “critical” isotopes according to a method approved by ONDRAF/NIRAS. This characterisation is carried out both on current production and on materials stored since dumping at sea was halted.
The forecast for the amount of category A waste produced is now 60,000 m3, including decommissioning waste.
The requirement for each country to develop a burial solution within its own frontiers will create significant extra cost for the Belgian waste producers, whether public or private, despite their relatively large electronuclear programme.