Since 1980, the Agency is responsible by law for the safe management of all radioactive waste produced in Belgium, including decommissioning wastes.
By the law of 11 January 1991 and the implementing Royal Decree of 16/10/1991, ONDRAF/NIRAS has been entrusted with a mission concerning the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. This mission involves the collection and assessment of data concerning decommissioning forecasts for nuclear facilities, the approval of facilities’ decommissioning programmes, the establishment — in consultation with operators — of financing conditions for decommissioning, as well as the implementation of these programmes on request by the operator, or in the case of its failure to do so.
This is the case for the company Best Medical Belgium SA located at Fleurus (MDS Nordion SA, till April 2011), which produced radioisotopes for medical applications and went bankrupt in 2012. These installations have been entrusted to ONDRAF/NIRAS. A plan of action was developed for taking-over the operations in the framework of remediation and decommissioning.
Steps have been taken to integrate his new role as a nuclear operator. The installations of Best Medical Belgium SA are now referred to as the “O/N - Site Fleurus.”
Nuclear facility operators, or any person requesting to operate a nuclear facility, are obliged to provide ONDRAF/NIRAS, under their responsibility and in due time, with all the necessary information concerning these facilities’ decommissioning forecasts, the nature, quantities and dates of transfer of the resulting waste, and the financing conditions for these facilities’ decommissioning.
In order to make the necessary funds available for decommissioning a nuclear facility when it will be shut down, operators are obliged to establish provisions during the facility’s active life. These provisions are calculated in such a way that the total amount established at the time of the final shutdown covers all costs resulting from the facility’s final phase, namely the preparation of decommissioning, decontamination, more or less long-term maintenance, dismantling, treatment, conditioning and disposal of waste produced during this phase.
In order to face to multiple and repeated evaluation processes, the Agency, already in the early 90’s, started with the implementation of its own integrated data processing system, recording the physical and radiological inventories of nuclear facilities, and allowing the evaluation of the quantities of decommissioning materials and wastes as well as of the decommissioning costs of these facilities.
The cost evaluations cover all decommissioning activities from final shutdown of the facility until final release from nuclear control, as well as conventional demolition and site restoration if required. Beside the information related to the inventories, the database involves so called auxiliary tables integrating unit prices of the various decontamination and dismantling techniques, unit rates for radioactive waste processing, interim storage and final disposal.