Thursday, 21 November 2019

Why British political parties should be challenged on nuclear power, nuclear weapons and privatising threats to the NHS


Here are two letters to the editor challenging both the Labour Party and the Tories over statements made respectively on nuclear power& weapons, and the privatisation threat to the NHS:
On Labour to the Guardian:

In launching Labour’s election manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn implored the electorate to vote for positive change. Indeed the document, titled, It's time for Real Change (https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/) is transformative for society in many innovative and progressive ways, especially its radical ideas on sustainability.

But it is badly undermined by two inexplicable anomalies: its support for new nuclear power and weapons.

On the former, in its energy and climate chapter of 2,812 words, it includes ten that assert, without explanation or justification, “We will build new nuclear power needed for energy security.”

Nuclear power brings no energy security as all uranium for fuel needs to be imported, and the only companies that have shown any interest in building such plants in  the UK are French, Chinese and Japanese, the last of which having developed cold feet.

Nor is nuclear low carbon compared to renewables, having greenhouse gas emissions between 10 and 18 times greater, according to recently published work by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University in  California (https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/WWSBook/WWSBook.html

On nuclear WMDs, the manifesto states” Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent,” but adds it would “actively” try to negotiate it  away  in “multilateral efforts under our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to create a nuclear-free world.”

If Trident is renewed it will cost at least £50,000,000,000 (£50 billion), with another £150 billion lifetime running costs. I can find no mention of this huge figure in the so-called full costed ‘Funding for real change’ 44-page gray book prepared by the shadow chancellor.

What kind of transformative change is delivered by very expensive new nuclear power plants and dangerous nuclear weapons?

And the Tories to the Times…

Your front page account of the leadership debate (“Neck and neck after TV clash,” The Times, 20 November 2019; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/itv-election-debate-boris-johnson-and-jeremy-corbyn-neck-and-neck-llbhzsc7d) records Boris Johnson as dismissing as an absolute, completely untrue invention Jeremy Corbyn’s allegations that the Prime Minister plans to sell off the NHS to US business interests, asserting “There are no circumstances whatever in which this government [or any Conservative government] would put the NHS on the table [in any trade negotiations.]”

However, your own policy editor reported 14 months ago (“Let American firms run hospitals, urges free trade group,” Sept 19, 2018)https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/let-american-firms-run-hospitals-urges-free-trade-group-5rxxd9tb8) that Mr Johnson has supported the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT www.ifreetrade.org), set up by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, a long term critic of the NHS.

 

Indeed Mr Johnson hosted the IFT launch at the Foreign Office when he was Foreign Secretary, when he was recorded by the web site Brexit Central as saying to “my old friend” Daniel Hannan: “I am delighted to attend the launch of the IFH and to support its noble missions. It is no exaggeration to say that the livelihoods of millions of people depend on its success.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=d8bGckgOpa0&feature=emb_title)

 

Mr Hannan has said on the record that he “wouldn’t wish the NHS on anyone” …asking “why would any sane  people cling to such a system?”

 

The IFT launched a report titled ‘An “Ideal” US-UK Free Trade Agreement’ on18 September last year jointly in Washington DC and London, edited by Mr Hannan.

 

The Times reported another of the report’s editors, Daniel Ikenson, as describing the NHS as an “incumbent” healthcare provider that should have competition. The purpose of liberalising trade is to expose incumbent businesses to competition, including healthcare providers.”

 

Voters deserve more than demonstrably untrue assertions on the future of the NHS from Mr Johnson in this contentious election campaign.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Repeated repetition that nuclear power is "zero-carbon" does not make it true


Letter  sent to the Financial Times:
 
Jonathan Ford’s latest column on nuclear power (“Nuclear liabilities need to be put in clearer perspective,” Financial Times, 18 November 2019; https://www.ft.com/content/1b632592-0925-11ea-b2d6-9bf4d1957a67) compounds several errors he made in an earlier column on radiation risks and decarbonization of power supplies (“Net-zero world must conquer its irrational fear of nuclear power, 4 November 2019; www.ft.com/content/32e052e2-fcca-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6) Mr Ford is entitled to his personal views on nuclear energy, but not to misrepresent facts.

 

Ford describes nuclear power as a “reliable zero-carbon source” in the earlier article, and in his new column as “reliably generating zero-carbon electricity.” But repetition does not make inaccurate statements true, and this assertion is not correct

A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of greenhouse gas emissions from differing power generation technologies by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California - and director of its Atmosphere/Energy Program -  indicated that nuclear CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewables. (Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security† Energy & Environmental Science, 1 December 2008; 


 

Prof Jacobson is very qualified for such analysis, being also Senior Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy, and at the Woods Institute for the Environment, where he has developed computer models to study the effects of fossil fuel and biomass burning on air pollution, weather, and climate.

 

In a newly completed chapter for a forthcoming energy book, ‘Evaluation of Nuclear Power as a Proposed Solution to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security,’ in 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything [Textbook in Preparation, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/WWSBook/WWSBook.html”) he argues cogently:

 

 “There is no such thing as a zero- or close-to-zero emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. However, all plants also emit 4.4 g-CO2e/kWh from the water vapor and heat they release. This contrasts with solar panels and wind turbines, which reduce heat or water vapor fluxes to the air by about 2.2 g-CO2e/kWh for a net difference from this factor alone of 6.6 g-CO2e/kWh. 

 

Overall, emissions from new nuclear are 78 to178 g-CO2/kWH, not close to 0, he concludes

 

Similar conclusions were reached in a meta-study by Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the School of Business, Management, and Economics, part of the University of Sussex, who serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Director of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand [which also involves the University of Oxford and University of Manchester]

 

He concludes the following: “This article screens 103 lifecycle studies of greenhouse gas-equivalent emissions for nuclear power plants to identify a subset of the most current, original, and transparent studies.

 

It begins by briefly detailing the separate components of the nuclear fuel cycle before explaining the methodology of the survey and exploring the variance of lifecycle estimates. It calculates that while the range of emissions for nuclear energy over the lifetime of a plant, reported from qualified studies examined, is from 1.4 g of carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh (g CO2e/kWh) to 288 g CO2e/kWh, the mean value is 66 g CO2e/kWh.

 

The article then explains some of the factors responsible for the disparity in lifecycle estimates, in particular identifying errors in both the lowest estimates (not comprehensive) and the highest estimates (failure to consider co-products). It should be noted that nuclear power is not directly emitting greenhouse gas emissions, but rather that lifecycle emissions occur through plant construction, operation, uranium mining and milling, and plant decommissioning.

( “Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey, Energy Policy, 36, 2940-2953, 2008. https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/climate/background/sovacool_nuclear_ghg.pdf

 

Mr Ford - The FT's City Editor no less- needs to expand his reading list.

Monday, 18 November 2019

An atomic abomination by The Sun


British tabloid newspapers like to simplify complex stories. In fact, that is the special skill their reporters must develop.

But they also distort stories on a daily basis, and in an election campaign, any  candidate  aspiring to become prime minister with a radical, left-wing  programme is regarded as open season from the Tory–backing  press for a battering.

And so it is with today’s most widely read national newspaper, The Sun, which attacks Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for views he expressed on nuclear WMDs – such as the UK’s Trident  nuclear submarine and ballistic  nuclear missile system- in an interview he did on Sunday morning with Andrew Marr.

The Sun trails its two page spread inside attack, with a front page teaser, headlined “Corbyn  blasted in nuke pull-out”, in s which th epaper’s deputy  political editor reports Corbyn (perniciously dubbed a ”pacifist”) had indicated he “would be prepared to give up the  UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent if he becomes PM.”

The inside story- headlined in the print version “Corbyn’s nuclear disaster”- makes copious use of the bilious critical comments by two former Labour MPs, who  left the Labour Party  because of vociferous opposition to Corbyn’s leadership (Jeremy Corbyn could DITCH Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent if he wins election,” The Sun, 18 November 2019; www.thesun.co.uk/news/10363366/jeremy-corbyn-could-ditch-britains-trident-nuclear-deterrent-if-he-wins-election/).

Former Labour MP John Woodcock, who used to represent Barrow-in-Furness, the hometown of the BAE Systems shipyard that is building  the Trident replacement submarines – and incredibly used to worked for Gordon Brown in No10 when he was Prime Minister a decade ago- said putting Mr Corbyn in No10 would “leave the UK at the mercy of nuclear blackmail from Vladimir Putin”.

He told The Sun: “Labour’s lifelong CND-supporting leader gives the game away on Trident every time he opens his mouth. It is absurd to suggest a Jeremy Corbyn-led government would continue investing in the nuclear deterrent when he’s already rendered it useless by saying there are no circumstances under which he would even threaten to use it to discourage an enemy attack. Whether it is a pact with the SNP, non-proliferation talks or because the month has the letter ‘r’ in it, CND Corbyn and his hard left cabal will fall over themselves to find a way to get round Labour’s fragile defence policy and scrap Trident.”

Ex-Labour MP Mike Gapes, a former international affairs advisor to the Labour Party, and an ex-chairperson of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee,  warned: “Once again Corbyn fails to support Nato. He is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

The Labour leader’s comments come a week after Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith was unable to say whether he would ever be prepared to push the nuclear button.

Corbyn had told Marr that Trident would be put on the table in international negotiations as he pledged [the UK’s nuclear weapons] would be part - obviously - if you enter into a non-proliferation treaty discussions then clearly every country's nuclear weapons go into that equation.”

The Sun claimed that Corbyn had also refused to rule out scrapping Trident as the price for the support of the anti-Trident Scottish National Party (SNP)

Asked if he would be prepared to scrap the atomic missile system if it was a price he had to pay for SNP support, Mr Corbyn replied: “I think the SNP would actually agreeing with me - and indeed in the past they certainly have - that the priority has to be giving realism to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, giving realism to the six-party talks in Korea, giving realism to the whole question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, in the Middle East or anywhere else.”

In a forceful, but disingenuous, editorial comment, under its banner ‘The Sun Says, the tabloid concluded that “putting Britain’s security on the negotiating table is an abomination.”

Evidently The Sun leader writer (and indeed nor its editor) cares nothing about what the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - referenced by Corbyn in his Marr interview - actually legally obliges the UK to do. (The UK was a co-author of its text when it was drafted in the late 1960s, and is one of three a depositary states, with the United States and Russia, for the treaty)

ARTICLE VI of the NPT states that:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” (https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/npt/text/)

 

So far from an “abomination: it is an international legal obligation: to which the  objects, and about which it is so dismissive.

This week The Sun has been celebrating  fifty years of its existence as a newspaper. The NPT is 51 years old. To date the UK has not negotiated away a single nuclear weapon in a the half century the Sun has existed.

That is the real atomic abomination.

Annex

Nuclear fishin’, The Sun Says, 18 November 2019


SO now we know. Jeremy Corbyn is ready to ditch our nukes to persuade the SNP to put him in power.

Make no mistake; this would be a disaster for Britain. Losing our Trident nuclear deterrent would signal to our enemies that we are weak and naive about global threats.

And yet that is the bargaining chip the Labour leader is using to get into No10.

Corbyn’s ratings are now so terrible that he’s had to grovel to Ian Blackford for extra support.

The SNP’s Westminster leader responded by saying he would “come up with a wishlist” of things he would demand as his price for a coalition, as if it were Christmas.

Why would Labour indulge him? So the SNP can take Scotland out of the UK once Corbyn wins an election?

It is an outrageous state of affairs.

More so given that Remainer MPs repeatedly accused Boris Johnson of trying to break up the Union.

Conversely, he did everything to avoid that — painstakingly renegotiating the Irish border deal and ruling out a Scottish independence referendum.

Corbyn, on the other hand, casually bribes the SNP with the possibility of independence and throws in nuclear disarmament for good measure

His Marxist loons know they cannot win through normal methods; they are so economically insane that they have had to resort to these cheap tricks.

But putting Britain’s security on the negotiating table is an abomination.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Con-Fusion

Letter sent to the Daily Telegraph:

In elections politicians seeking support tend to exaggerate, and also leave out inconvenient facts, to bolster their case.

Thus, as your political editor reported on the front page (“Boris Johnson promises 'clean energy revolution' once Brexit is done,” November 13; www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/11/12/boris-johnson-promises-clean-energy-revolution-brexit-done/) prime minister Boris Johnson “ announced plans to fund research aimed at developing the world's first nuclear fusion plant, which could power entire towns without creating greenhouse gases or radioactive waste.

This is misleading.

According to the UN nuclear watchdog,  the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): “Fusion does not create any long-lived radioactive nuclear waste.”

But, it adds, fusion “also produces and consumes tritium within the plant in a closed circuit. Tritium is radioactive (a beta emitter) but its half life is short. The activation of the reactor’s structural material by intense neutron fluxes is another issue. This strongly depends on what solution for blanket and other structures has been adopted.” (www.iaea.org/topics/energy/fusion/faqs)

Moreover, the technical advisor to the French nuclear regulator, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) says in its detailed 2018 report on Nuclear Fusion:

“[Radioactive ]waste , whether low and intermediate low level short-lived waste, or very low level waste, is processed and stored in the ‘radwaste building.’” https://www.irsn.fr/EN/Research/publications-documentation/Scientific-books/Documents/ITER-VA_web_non_imprimable.pdf)

Facts should still matter, especially in elections.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

New World Nuclear Waste Report sets standard for accuracy and insight


A very important, path-breaking report on radioactive waste was released in Berlin yesterday, at an all-day press conference* held at the headquarters of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, major sponsors of the research that informs the content of the study, titled World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR). https://worldnuclearwastereport.org/wp-content/themes/wnwr_theme/content/World_Nuclear_Waste_Report_2019_Focus_Europe.pdf)

It is the brain-child of  former German Green Party/ Alliance 90 MEP, Rebecca Harms – a forty year campaigner against nuclear power-  and independent  Paris-based international energy consultant, Mycle Schneider, the team behind the now internationally respected  and encyclopedically comprehensive  annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report.( https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/The-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2019-HTML.html|), the most recent edition of which was released (in Budapest) on 27 September.

The WNWR concludes “The final disposal of high-level radioactive waste presents governments worldwide with major challenges that have not yet been addressed, and entails incalculable technical, logistical, and financial risks.”

It spells out in nearly 150-pages of detailed analysis that over 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel ( one type of highly dangerous and long-lived ) alone are stored in interim storage facilities across Europe (excluding Russia and Slovakia as the data published by these two countries is inadequate, according to the authors ). It adds that within the EU, France accounts for 25% of the current spent nuclear fuel generated, followed by Germany (15%) and the United Kingdom (14%).

In addition, more than 2.5 million m³ of low- and intermediate-level waste has been generated in Europe (excluding Slovakia and Russia). Over its lifetime, the European nuclear reactor fleet will produce an estimated 6.6 million m³ of nuclear waste. Four countries are responsible for most of this waste: France (30%), the UK (20%), the Ukraine (18%) and Germany (8%).

WNWR stresses that “many governments underestimate the costs of interim and final storage. No country has a consistent financing model to date in places. This poses further financial risk for taxpayers.”

"Worldwide, the amount of nuclear waste is growing. But even 70 years after the start of the nuclear age, no country in the world has found a real solution for the legacies of nuclear power," said Harms. Marcos Buser, a Swiss geology expert and co-author of the report, added: "Increasing amounts of high-level waste have to be interim stored for ever longer periods of time, as no country in the world has yet commissioned a deep geological repository for such waste. The problem is that interim storage facilities have not been designed for such long-term use…The shutdown and decommissioning of many nuclear power plants will again drastically increase the quantities of nuclear waste."

In addition to the safety aspects, the report identifies the enormous costs of interim storage and final disposal as another risk. "National governments and operators often significantly underestimate the costs of decommissioning, storage, and disposal of nuclear waste," said Ben Wealer, another co-author of the study and industrial engineer at the Technical University of Berlin. In many countries there is a large gap between the expected costs and the financial resources earmarked for them. The problem would be exacerbated by the fact that final disposal also involves incalculable risks, which could lead to enormous cost increases, as the German government experiences with the Asse repository illustrate.

Nearly every government claims to apply the polluter-pays-principle, which makes operators liable for the costs of managing, storing, and disposing of nuclear waste. In reality, however, governments fail to apply the polluter-pays-principle consistently. "No country in Europe has taken sufficient precautions to finance the costs of the final disposal of nuclear waste. There is a threat that the real, massive costs will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers," Wealer warned.

Ellen Ueberschär, President of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, asserted: "The numerous unsolved problems in dealing with nuclear waste show that nuclear power has no future. At the same time, the report makes clear that phasing out nuclear power is not enough. Insufficient financial provisions for disposing of nuclear waste must not undermine the care and safety of decisions for interim storage and final disposal. The search for a suitable final repository needs greater public attention. The report is intended to facilitate a qualified international debate."

[This first edition of the WNWR will be translated into French and Czech. The initiators intend to publish a follow-up edition in the coming years in order to identify trends and developments.]

(see also: ”No country in the world has found solution for nuclear waste challenge – report,” Clean Energy Wire, 11 November, 2019; www.cleanenergywire.org/news/no-country-world-has-found-solution-nuclear-waste-challenge-report).

Two authors of the report are British:  the UK chapter was written by Professor Gordon MacKerron, director of Science and Technology Policy Research at University of Sussex, who has  served as director of Sussex Energy Group, SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research Unit), since April 2005. He was also the first chairperson of the UK Government’s independent panel, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM); and the risk chapter was written by independent radiation consultant, Dr Ian  Fairlie, who has worked variously  at the TUC, Greenpeace Canada,  the Scottish environmental regulator  (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, SEPA) as well as having a role as a radiation  expert at  the HQ of the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food  (MAFF, now DEFRA). He is a former scientific secretary of the independent UK Government-appointed advisory  panel, the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (www.cerrie.org).e He has studied  at the both Imperial College, London and Princeton University in the United States.

Both authors are thus eminently qualified (and highly experienced) , to  write their chapters, which I have reproduced below.

The WNWR should become the annual go-to  report on radioactive waste for all practioners in the field

 has studies both at Imperial college London and Princ

7.7 THE UNITED KINGDOM

OVERVIEW

The UK was one of the earliest developers of nuclear technology. This was initially for the purpose of producing nuclear weapons starting in the 1940s, and the site at Sellafield (formerly Windscale) in North West England was used to develop the ‘Windscale piles’ for the production of plutonium for weapons. This was followed by the development of dual-use reactors, which were used both for plutonium pro­duction for weapons as well as electricity generation.391

391 Pocock, R.F. 1977. Nuclear power. Its development in the United Kingdom. Gresham Books

The UK has been through three distinct phases in development of power reactors. The first was the de­velopment of the Magnox design, based on the dual-use reactors. They used natural uranium and were graphite-moderated and cooled by carbon dioxide. All are now closed. A second phase was also based on gas-graphite reactors, the Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors (AGRs) now using enriched uranium.392

392 MacKerron, G. and Sadnicki, M. 1995, UK nuclear privatisation and public sector liabilities (No. 4). University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit. A third, truncated phase involved importing pressurized water reactors (PWR) and one was completed in 1997. Nuclear power plants contributed at peak levels 28 percent of electricity generation in the UK in 1998, but this has gradually declined to 21 percent in 2017 as old plants have been shut down and age-re­lated problems affect plant availability.393

393 Department of Energy and Climate Change 2009, 60th Anniversary Digest of UK Energy Statistics, pp. 40. , 394

394 Department of Energy, Industry and Industrial Strategy 2018, Digest of Energy Statistics 2018, pp. 117.

After a long gap, Hinkley Point C, a European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) of similar design to the earlier PWR, is now under construction. While five further large new nuclear stations might be built, this is now open to question as developers have stopped work, citing financial problems.395

395 Vaughan, A. 2019 ‘UK’s nuclear plans in doubt after report Welsh plant may be axed,’ The Guardian, viewed 22 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/10/uk-nuclear-plant-hitachi-wylfa-anglesey

The dismantling of old nuclear structures is a slow process. “Care and maintenance” 396

396 Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) 2018, Business Plan 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021, viewed 28 June 2019, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695245/ NDA_Business_Plan_2018_to_2021.pdf, pp. 9 (a UK term) is the status where all buildings have been removed from the reactor site except for the reactor building, pond structures and intermediate- and low-level waste (ILW) stores. These remaining facilities are then weather-proofed. It is expected that they will be dismantled after around 80 years. Only one Magnox station has yet reached care and maintenance status, and the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) predicts that the others will do so by 2029.397

397 Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) 2018

The UK has a wide range of other nuclear structures. Besides facilities for producing nuclear weapons, these include two fast breeder reactors, several prototype reactors, and many other research facilities. The UK has never mined or milled any uranium, but it has plants for all other stages of the nuclear fuel chain. This includes conversion, enrichment and fabricating nuclear fuel, as well as reprocessing spent fuel to separate out plutonium and uranium. The UK has operated two large reprocessing plants at Sel­lafield. One, B205, is designed to reprocess metallic fuel from Magnox reactors; it opened in 1962 and is due to close in 2020. The other is a Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP), opened in 1994 and closed in 2018.398

398 Government of the UK 2018, End of reprocessing at THORP signals new era for Sellafield, viewed 5 April 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/end-of-reprocessing-at-thorp-signals-new-era-for-sellafield THORP has reprocessed significant quantities of foreign fuel, notably from Japan and 130

Germany, but its main activity was always reprocessing of UK-owned fuel from the AGRs. It operated well below capacity and was closed as a result of commercial and technical problems. The UK also has an operating dry fuel store at Sizewell and disposal sites for low-level waste (LLW) at Drigg, near Sellafield and at Dounreay in Scotland.

The Sellafield site is especially complex and hosts hundreds of disused buildings and stores. Much work remains to be done before all the waste there can even be characterized, let alone managed safely.399

399 National Audit Office (NAO) 2018, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: progress with reducing risk. HC 1126, viewed 22 April 2019, https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/The-Nuclear-Decommissioning- Authority-progress-with-reducing-risk-at-Sellafield.pdf Like most other countries, the UK plans to use Deep Geological Disposal (DGD) to dispose of intermedi­ate-level waste (ILW) and high-level waste (HLW) but has made little progress to date. Scotland’s policy is different from that of the rest of the UK, and envisages near-surface disposal of all nuclear waste within its borders.400

400 Government of Scotland 2011, Scotland’s higher activity radioactive waste policy, viewed 22 April 2019, https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-higher-activity-radioactive-waste-policy-2011/

WASTE CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

The UK waste classification system is close to the IAEA system. The categories are primarily based on activity levels with no explicit consideration of whether wastes are short-lived. They are as follows:401

401 Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and NDA 2017, Radioactive wastes in the UK: UK radioactive waste inventory report, viewed 22 April 2019, https://ukinventory.nda.gov.uk

                Very low-level waste (VLLW): waste with low enough levels of radioactivity to be predominantly disposed of at licensed landfill sites

                Low-level waste (LLW): waste with low levels of radioactivity which still needs to be managed in engineered shallow repositories

                Intermediate-level waste (ILW): contains activity above the upper limit for LLW but is not heat-generating

                High-level waste (HLW): produced from reprocessing spent fuel, heat-generating as well as highly radioactive.

 

Definitions of what is and is not waste vary by country and over time. Like France, UK policy does not define separated plutonium, spent fuel, and depleted or reprocessed uranium as waste, and so these are not included in the official waste inventory. This decision is officially rationalized on the grounds that all these materials might be used in fabricating nuclear fuel in the future. However, such uses are far from certain, and even if all are used in fuel fabrication, they would lead to further waste streams and these do not appear in the official UK waste inventory. 131

QUANTITIES OF WASTE

The UK government publishes a waste inventory every three years. The data below comes from the most recent inventory, which records waste volumes and activity as of April 1st, 2016 as well as expected future volumes. Among the features of the inventory are:

                There are many different waste streams identified (1,337 in total). These streams are divided into 24 waste groups.

                A high proportion of all nuclear waste is in ‘raw’ (in UK terms ‘reported’) form. This is waste that is not yet conditioned or packaged. Of the 24 waste ‘groups’ only one is described as ‘conditioned waste’. While the proportion of waste in this raw form has not been disclosed it seems probable that it is well over half of total volumes.

                Liquid and gaseous discharges are not included in the inventory, which therefore consists of different forms of solids.

                Most of the waste by activity levels (58 percent) is concentrated at Sellafield (only 0.03 percent was at military sites).

                Foreign-owned wastes are not included in the UK inventory. Some substitution agreements between the UK government and the governments of owners of foreign-owned wastes held in the UK have specified that the countries with ownership will receive back the same amount of radioactivity as that contained in the original spent fuel. However, these returned wastes will be in the form of HLW, much smaller in volume than the various waste streams produced by the reprocessing of that fuel.

 

Because the UK will not have an operational DGD facility for decades to come, successive UK inventories show that the volumes and activity of higher activity wastes continue to accumulate and require ever-growing interim storage facilities.

The Table 19 shows the volumes and mass of nuclear waste in storage as at 1 April 2016. The HLW arises entirely as a by-product of reprocessing and is currently stored at Sellafield. This waste is initially in the form of highly active nitric acid (Highly Active Liquor or HAL), which undergoes an evaporation process before it is vitrified into glass blocks inside stainless steel canisters.

ILW is much more diverse and also lacks a current disposal route, and so must be stored. About 74 percent by volume of ILW is at Sellafield. Nearly all the rest is at power stations. When packaging occurs, it can be in cement (inside steel or concrete containers) or immobilized in polymer inside mild steel contain­ers. LLW and VLLW are routinely disposed of and so the volumes currently awaiting disposal are small.132

TABLE 19: Nuclear waste in the United Kingdom as of December 31, 2016

Type of waste
Type of storage
Storage site
Quantity
SNF (HLW)
Interim storage (wet)
Storage pools at nuclear power plants
3,549 tHM
Interim storage (wet)
Sellafield
4,151 tHM
 
HLW
Interim storage
Sellafield
1,960 m³
ILW
Interim storage
Sellafield, Aldermaston, Dounreay, Harwell, NPPs
99,000 m³
LLW
Interim storage
Sellafield, Capenhurst, Dounreay
30,100 m³
Disposed waste
Closed (in 2005) near-surface repository at Dounreay
33,600 m³
 
Disposed waste
New near-surface repository at Dounreay
3,130 m³
 
Disposed waste
Near-surface repository LLW repository at Drigg
905,000 m³
 
VLLW
Interim storage
935 m³
Dump sites
n.a.
 

 

The significance of ILW and especially HLW derive from their high levels of radioactivity relative to LLW and VLLW. HLW contains by far the bulk of activity levels in the UK inventory, much of which will reduce over the next century as a result of radioactive decay though there will remain very long-lived radionu­clides which must be isolated for thousands of years.

QUANTITIES OF OTHER RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS NOT CLASSIFIED AS WASTE

At this point, the UK does not classify uranium, separated plutonium and spent fuel as waste because plutonium and uranium might be used as ingredients of future nuclear fuel. However, it is in practice very unlikely that there will be such use and these materials will probably be managed as wastes at some future point. SNF is included in Table 19. The UK holding of stocks of separated plutonium will amount to 140 tons at the end of reprocessing in 2020, of which 23 tons will be foreign-owned. This is the world’s largest stockpile of civil separated plutonium.402

402 NDA 2019, Progress on plutonium conditioning, storage and disposal, viewed 22 April 2019, https://assets.publishing. service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/791046/Progress_on_Plutonium.pdf The UK also held, as at April 2016 113,000tHM of natu­ral, depleted and reprocessed uranium, nearly all of it at Sellafield. Most of this very large stock consist­ed of depleted uranium following uranium enrichment.403

403 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and NDA, 2017, Radioactive Wastes in the UK: Radioactive Wastes and Materials not Reported in the 2016 Waste Inventory, March, pp. 16.

Overall, plutonium, spent fuel and uranium will, once finally classified as waste, add very significantly both to the activity (spent fuel and plutonium) and volume (uranium) of UK nuclear wastes, a high prob­ability that current policy ignores. The UK inventory also anticipates that there will be very large future waste arisings between 2016 and 2125. Given a set of future scenarios that assumes no further new build 133

of nuclear power the expectation of future waste volumes is as follows:404

404 Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy 2017, Radioactive Wastes in the UK: UK Radioactive Waste Inventory Report, pp. 23.

                HLW 366 m³

                ILW 299,000 m³

                LLW 1,570,000 m³

                VLLW 2,720,00 m³

 

The future volume of HLW is relatively small because reprocessing has limited future lifetime. However, ILW volumes are expected to rise roughly threefold and LLW by about 1.5 times. Most of this future waste will derive from decommissioning of power plants, and facilities at Sellafield (where the latter are expect­ed to account for 62 percent of all future ILW, 84 percent of future LLW and 95 percent of future VLLW).

WASTE MANAGEMENT POLICIES AND FACILITIES

The UK produced military wastes from the 1940s and civilian wastes from the 1950s. LLW was always disposed via shallow burial. Serious policy for other potential wastes was for many years solely a com­mitment to reprocessing all spent fuel. Reprocessing was based on the conviction that the plutonium would initially be needed for weapons and then later that it would be needed to fuel fast breeder reactors. This latter rationale evaporated and in 1994 fast reactor development was abandoned, though reprocessing continued.405

405 International Panel on Fissile Materials 2015, Plutonium separation in nuclear power programs: Status, problems, and prospects of civilian reprocessing around the world. All ILW was subject to interim storage.

Policy for higher activity wastes (ILW and HLW) was neglected until the 1970s when the Royal Commis­sion on Environmental Pollution recommended that new nuclear power should not be developed until credible waste management routes were demonstrated.406

406 Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 1976, Nuclear power and the environment: 6th report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Cm 6618 This led to explicit plans for deep geological disposal of ILW and, implicitly if later in time, HLW. Attempts to achieve this all failed due to local resist­ance at proposed sites.

An independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) reported in 2006 in favor of Deep Geological Disposal (DGD) for all higher activity waste.407

407 Committee on Radioactive Waste Management 2006, Managing our radioactive waste safely: CoRWM’s recommendations to Government Doc 700 It also suggested robust interim stor­age and a new voluntary process in which local communities would be invited to negotiate terms under which they would accept development of DGD. The government chose to endorse this general approach in 2008 and pursued one serious (but failed) attempt to get buy-in from communities around Sellafield to agree to host a DGD.408

408 Defra, BERR and the devolved administrations of Wales and Northern Ireland 2008, Managing our radioactive waste safely: a framework for implementing geological disposal, viewed 24 April 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ managing-radioactive-waste-safely-a-framework-for-implementing-geological-disposal The government is engaged, as of early 2019, in a renewed process designed to find a willing host community for DGD.409

409 World Nuclear News 2018, “UK relaunches repository site selection process,” 20 December, viewed 22 April 2019, http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/UK-relaunches-repository-site-selection-process134

The UK’s Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is in charge of nuclear waste policy. Closure of the Magnox stations and the poor and deteriorating state of Sellafield made it clear by the early 2000s that a more coherent policy and higher expenditures were needed to manage waste in the short- and medium-term. The 2004 Energy Act provided the foundation for setting up the Nu­clear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2005.410

410 Government of the UK 2004, Energy Act, viewed 28 June 2019, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/20/contents Its purpose is to deliver the decommissioning and clean-up of all publicly-owned nuclear sites and also to undertake the long-term management of nuclear waste. It is the first time that an institution has been developed in the UK with the primary purpose of nuclear waste management.

The NDA recognized that Sellafield was the most problematic site, containing a huge range of ex-mili­tary and ex-civilian buildings and wastes. Sellafield contains four so-called Legacy Ponds and Silos, all representing major hazards, as well as being home to virtually all UK spent fuel, much of which has been reprocessed there. This means that cleaning up Sellafield is the highest priority for the NDA.411

411 National Audit Office (NAO) 2018, part 2.

The NDA attempted to innovate in managing the nuclear sites, which it now owns. In particular, it has held competitions to appoint ‘Parent Body Organisations’ (PBOs) to oversee the work of the site license companies at each site for specified periods. These competitive processes were designed to encourage cost reductions and bring in wider international expertise. However, the model has not worked well and the NDA is taking direct management responsibility for the two largest segments of the UK decommis­sioning and waste management task: Sellafield and the Magnox sites.412

412 James, S. 2018, ’Magnox becomes NDA subsidiary,’ Nuclear Matters, 4 July, viewed 22 April 2019, www.nuclearmatters.co.uk/2018/07/magnox-becomes-nda-subsidiary

Apart from final disposal sites for LLW near Sellafield and Dounreay the UK has no other long-term sites. Interim storage, as indicated in Table 19, is practiced for all other wastes at many sites, though Sellafield holds the majority of all wastes by volume and activity.

COSTS AND FINANCING

The total costs of managing all of the UK’s nuclear waste is very high. The NDA provides estimates for the future costs of public sector ‘legacy’ waste. This legacy covers waste which has either arisen in the past or is unavoidable in the future (mainly because of the need to decommission many nuclear structures). As of 2006, the NDA estimated the undiscounted future costs of its task to amount to £53 billion (around US$98 billion in 2006). By 2018 this had escalated to an estimate of £121 billion (US$162 billion) of which costs at Sellafield, where escalation has been concentrated, were an expected £91 billion (US$121 billion). The NDA now puts an uncertainty range on its central estimate of £99–225 billion (US$129-292 billion).413

413 NDA 2018, Annual Report and Accounts 2017, viewed 22 April 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ nuclear-decommissioning-authority-annual-report-and-accounts-2017-to-2018Expenditures are expected until around 2125. 135

The UK has a poor historic record in financing waste. Only for very brief periods has it set up small seg­regated funds for public sector wastes and these were all abandoned. Currently, there are three different systems of finance:

                For public sector wastes, the main system is an annual government grant-in-aid, in the absence of any fund to pay for public sector-owned wastes. This grant finances the NDA and is supplemented by income that the NDA receives from services it provides, such as managing spent fuel via reprocessing, and long-term spent fuel storage. In 2017-18 this commercial income totaled £1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) most of which was for spent fuel services. The UK government grant amounted to £2.1 billion (US$2.7 billion) making the total spent in 2017/18 around £3.3 billion (US$4.3 billion). Sixty percent of this was spent at Sellafield. Total annual NDA expenditure has been around £3 billion (US$3.9 billion) for several years. In future, commercial income from spent fuel services will fall steeply, because of the closure of all reprocessing by 2020.

                The second finance system is the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF), an independent trust, which has a genuine fund currently amounting to £9.26 billion (around US$12 billion).414

                414 Nuclear Liabilities Fund 2018, Protecting the future: Annual Report and Accounts 2018, viewed 22 April 2019, http://www.nlf.uk.net/media/1076/nlf_annual_report_2018.pdf It is used for the decommissioning and waste liabilities in private ownership i.e. the AGR reactors (excluding ongoing payments to the NDA for spent AGR fuel). These reactors are all owned by EDF Energy. The fund is expected to cover the discounted value of EDF Energy liabilities. Qualifying expenditure has to be approved by the fund. Because the reactors are still operating, expenditure from the fund has so far been limited, primarily for a dry spent fuel store at Sizewell.

                The third system is a planned Funded Decommissioning Plan, which will apply to new reactors. Reactor owners are to develop a plan which is subject to government approval. It covers all future liabilities and is designed to ensure that owners of reactors bear the full costs of decommissioning and waste management.415

                415 Government of the UK 2011, Energy Act 2008 “Funded decommissioning programme guidance for new nuclear power stations“, December, Part 2bThese arrangements will include a system in which a waste transfer price will be set in future, at which point, after reactor shutdowns, owners will pay the British government to take ownership of the wastes. The intention is to ensure that this price will be high enough to more than cover all subsequent waste management costs.

 

SUMMARY

The UK has a legacy of over 1,300 waste streams, and a policy history of largely neglecting the active management of decommissioning and waste until the setting up of the Nuclear Decommissioning Au­thority in 2005. Future wastes to 2125 are expected to be significantly larger in volume than the inven­tory as at 2016 and more future wastes will derive from decommissioning.

The required expenditure to manage this waste is extremely high and the task very challenging. The great bulk of future expenditure on waste management will come from annual public expenditure and is expected to exceed £120 billion (US$156 billion). Spent fuel, separated plutonium and uranium are not considered as waste in the UK and this means that actual waste volumes are higher than official esti­mates. In keeping with other countries, policy for higher activity waste is to use deep geological dispos­al. However progress has been slow, and no repository is likely to be available before 2040 at the earliest.

RISKS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN HEALTH46

chapter from

World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR) - Focus Europe, 11-11-19


Radioactive waste poses risks to the environment and human health. “Risk” is defined here as a function of both hazard and exposure: the most likely consequence of a hazard, combined with the probability of exposure to it. This chapter will focus on higher activity nuclear wastes (see chapter on classifications) and highlight potential unresolved dangers and problems. Although nuclear waste poses both radiolog­ical and chemical risks, it will concentrate on the former, as these are generally more serious.

Although risks arise from every step in the lengthy nuclear fuel chain, this chapter will focus on the hazards and risks of nuclear waste arising from the following:

  1. uranium mining, milling, enrichment, and fuel fabrication
  2. operation of nuclear power plants
  3. spent nuclear fuel
  4. reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, and
  5. reactor decommissioning.

 

4.1 RADIATION RISKS OF NUCLEAR WASTE

Nuclear waste can give off several types of radiation: alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. While alpha particles are most easily stopped, even by thin barriers such as paper, their effects are par­ticularly damaging. They are very detrimental when inhaled or ingested and have a radiation weighting factor 20 times greater than gamma rays per unit of exposure. Beta particles are more penetrating than alpha particles, but can still be attenuated by denser materials such as plastic and aluminum. Gamma rays are highly penetrating; dense materials such as lead and thick concrete are required to attenuate them.

Radiation from radioactive waste is carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic (a teratogenic substance is one that can damage a fetus or embryo). Radiogenic65

65 Radiogenic means produced by or determined from radioactivity. cancer risks depend on the type of cancer, the tissues exposed, the dose, dose rate, and type of radiation. The final risk to individuals will also depend on their gender, age, and the time that has passed since exposure. Radiation is also increasingly impli­cated in a wide range of other diseases including cardiovascular diseases, strokes, eye cataracts, and mental effects.

According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), an external whole-body radiation dose of one sievert (Sv) results in an approximately ten percent risk of fatal cancer in adults. However, the ICRP later reduced its estimate by half to five percent through its use of a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor (DDREF) of two for solid cancers.66

66 International Commission on Radiological Protection 2007, “The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection”, ICRP publication 103.37 DDREFs were formerly used to reduce risks derived from the Japanese bomb survivors’ exposures to low dose and low dose-rate radiation. Older cell and animal studies had indicated these exposures were less harmful than those to higher doses at higher dose rates. More recent human studies have now shown the use of DDREFs is incorrect.67,68 Since 2013, most international agencies have ceased using DDREFs, so the real risk of fatal cancer has increased to at least 10 percent per Sv. Unfortunately, the ICRP has not stopped using DDREFs.69 Thus, governments and the ICRP have not recognized the perceived increased risks of radiation, nor tightened radiation limits. There is still no international consensus on the risks of radiation. What is clear, however, is that the ICRP’s recommendations are conservative.

Radioactive waste can contain a wide range of radionuclides, whose atoms are unstable. When their nu­clei disintegrate, they give off various forms of radiation. Many of these atoms have a high radiotoxicity, which is the degree to which a radionuclide can damage an organism. Their half-lives, the amount of time it takes for half the original amount present to decay, are often extremely long, they can be thou­sands or even millions of years.

In order to estimate the risk of a radionuclide to an organism, the following factors are important:

  1. radioactive decay modes: the emission of alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays
  2. chemical compounds which contain the radioisotope
  3. solubility in water
  4. transport modes through the environment
  5. relative biological effectiveness: the ratio of damage from one type of radiation relative to another, given the same amount of absorbed energy
  6. radiotoxicity: usually based on specific activity, stated as radioactivity in bequerel (Bq) per gram
  7. dose conversion factor, which converts becquerel to sieverts.
  8. In most instances, exposures will be internal rather than external, so doses and risks will also depend on their uptake rates, metabolisms and excretion rates in humans.

 

No proper hazard classification scheme has yet taken the above factors into account for radionuclides. Such schemes already exist for chemicals and biocides, and calls have been made for such a scheme to be established for radioactive waste.70

 

70 Kirchner, G. 1990, A New Hazard Index for the Determination of Risk Potentials of Radioactive Waste Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 11, pp. 71-95.

4.2 RISKS FROM URANIUM MINING, MINE TAILINGS,

ENRICHMENT, AND FUEL FABRICATION

Uranium mining, mine tailings, enrichment, and fuel fabrication are collectively termed the ‘front end’ of the nuclear fuel chain. Health risks arise at each of these stages. Uranium is a radioactive substance naturally existing in the earth’s crust. Its deposits are more concentrated in areas of the world where 47

the ore is mined and processed. The resulting mining waste and slurries are the first nuclear waste in the nuclear fuel chain. It is widely recognized that exposures to uranium and its decay products are re­sponsible for a major fraction of the total health and environmental impact from the nuclear fuel chain.71

71 IAEA 2004, “Environmental Contamination from Uranium Production Facilities and Their Remediation.” Proceedings Of An International Workshop On Environmental Contamination From Uranium Production Facilities And Their Remediation Organized By The International Atomic Energy Agency And Held In Lisbon, 11–13 February 2004. The industry states that global uranium mining has decreased by four percent from 2013-16, but the decline in global uranium mining has accelerated since.72

72 NEA and IAEA 2016, Uranium 2016: Resources, Production and Demand. NEA Report No. 7301.A, viewed 24 May 2019, https://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2016/7301-uranium-2016.pdf

Practically no uranium mining occurs in the European Union at present, but clean-up and remediation continue at former mines in France, Germany, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Romania. During mine rehabilitation efforts in the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary, small quantities of uranium are re­covered; it is unclear whether there is still a small quantity being mined (a few dozen tons per year) in Romania at present.

HEALTH RISKS FROM EXPOSURES TO URANIUM

The health risks associated with exposures to uranium (including depleted uranium73

73 Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of uranium enrichment. It is controversial: in some countries it is used for radiation shielding and ammunition by military forces, while in others it is banned. Information about DU and its risks from a 2008 UN Institute for Disarmament Research report is available here: http://www.unidir.org/files/publications/pdfs/uranium-weapons-en-328.pdf ) include kidney disease, respiratory disorders, DNA damage, endocrine disruption, cancers, and neurological defects.74

74 Keith, S., Faroon, O., Roney, N., Scinicariello, F., Wilbur, S., Ingerman, L., Llados, F., Plewak, D., Wohlers, D. and Diamond, G. 2013, “Toxicological profile for uranium,” public statement by the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. , 75

75 Wilson, J. and Thorne, M. 2015, “An assessment and comparison of the chemotoxic and radiotoxic properties of uranium compounds,” ASSIST report to RWM Populations exposed to environmental uranium should be monitored for increased risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancers.76

76 Raymond-Whish, S., Mayer, L.P., O’Neal, T., Martinez, A., Sellers, M.A., Christian, P.J., Marion, S.L., Begay, C., Propper, C.R., Hoyer, P.B. and Dyer, C.A., 2007. Drinking water with uranium below the US EPA water standard causes estrogen receptor–dependent responses in female mice, Environmental health perspectives, 115(12), pp. 1711-1716.

Animal and cell studies have indicated that uranium’s health detriments are due to its affinity for DNA77

77 Miller, A.C., Stewart, M., Brooks, K., Shi, L. and Page, N. 2002, Depleted uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha particle decay, Journal of inorganic biochemistry, 91(1), pp. 246-252. and to the potential combination of its chemical and radioactive properties, as uranium as a heavy metal has both chemical and radiological effects. It is theorized that these might play tumor-initiating and tumor-promoting roles respectively.78

78 Miller, A.C., Brooks, K., Smith, J. and Page, N. 2004, Effect of the militarily-relevant heavy metals, depleted uranium and heavy metal tungsten-alloy on gene expression in human liver carcinoma cells (HepG2), Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 255(1-2), pp. 247-256. The report focuses on U-238, which makes up 99.27 percent of natural uranium.

The rest is comprised of U-235 (0.72 percent) and U-234, a decay product of U-238 (0.0055 percent). Uranium in ore is invariably accompanied by U-238’s decay progeny.79

79 Includes thorium-234, protactinium-234m, protactinium-234, thorium-230, radium-226, radon-222, polonium-218, actinium-218, radon-218, lead-214, bismuth-214, polonium-214, thallium-210, lead-210, bismuth-210, polonium-210, thallium-206, and finally lead-206, which is stable.Each of the above nuclides indi­vidually is estimated to be more dangerous than the parent U-238. Together, these decay products in uranium ore contain about 14 times more radioactivity than the parent U-238. 48

The most problematic decay product is radium-226 for three reasons: its salts are mainly soluble; it has a long half-life (1,760 years); and it emits gamma rays. Another dangerous nuclide is radon-222 (half-life 3.8 days). Because it is an odourless, colourless gas, it and its progeny, although invisible, are readily distributed in the environment. Exposures to radon gas are considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide after smoking tobacco.80

80 Darby, S., Hill, D., Auvinen, A., Barros-Dios, J.M., Baysson, H., Bochicchio, F., Deo, H., Falk, R., Forastiere, F., Hakama, M. and Heid, I. 2005, Radon in homes and risk of lung cancer: collaborative analysis of individual data from 13 European case-control studies, Bmj, 330(7485), pp. 223. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that indoor radon exposure causes or contributes to about 21,000 lung-cancer deaths in the United States annually.81

81 Pawel, D.J. and Puskin, J.S. 2004, The US Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of risks from indoor radon, Health physics, 87(1), pp. 68-74.

Partly for these reasons, the ICRP estimated that a lifetime excess absolute risk of 5 × 10-⁴ per Working Level Month (WLM)82

82 One working level (WL) refers to the concentration of short-lived decay products of radon in equilibrium of 3,700 Bq/m³ (100 pCi/L) in air. A working level month (WLM) is the exposure to one working level for 170 hours per month. It is conventionally assumed that 1 WLM = ~10 mSv. should be used as the risk coefficient for radon-induced lung cancer, doubling its previous estimate.83

83 Tirmarche, M., Harrison, J.D., Laurier, D., Paquet, F., Blanchardon, E. and Marsh, J. 2010, Lung cancer risk from radon and progeny and statement on radon, Annals of the ICRP, 40(1), pp.1-64. These cancer risks are expressed using either the Excess Relative Risk (ERR) model or the Excess Absolute Risk (EAR) model. ERR is the proportional increase in risk over the background rate (i.e. where people are not exposed). EAR is the additional risk above the background rate. However, several ICRP authors later added that the risk would have actually increased to 7 × 10-4 per WLM if lung cancer rates among Euro-American males had been used instead of inappropriate ICRP reference rates (namely males and females and Euro-American and Asian populations).84

84 Tirmarche, M., Harrison, J., Laurier, D., Blanchardon, E., Paquet, F. and Marsh, J. 2012, Risk of lung cancer from radon exposure: contribution of recently published studies of uranium miners, Annals of the ICRP, 41(3-4), pp.368-377. In other words, the estimated risk rates for most uranium mine workers have approximately tripled rather than doubled since 1993. This increased awareness of uranium mining’s risks has not been reflected in tighter safety standards for uranium workers.

URANIUM MINING

Although many uranium mines are now closed, the past history of uranium mining throughout the world remains bleak, with many accidents and reports of ill health among uranium miners. Older epidemiology studies indicated significant excesses of lung cancer among uranium mining workers.85

85 Grosche, B., Kreuzer, M., Kreisheimer, M., Schnelzer, M. and Tschense, A. 2006, Lung cancer risk among German male uranium miners: a cohort study, 1946–1998, British journal of cancer, 95(9), pp. 1280.

Perhaps the best-documented example in Europe is the Wismut mine complex in former East Germany. The Soviet-run uranium mine complex was in operation until 1996. 59,000 of these miners employed between 1946 and 1989 were examined. Researchers found a significant increase in lung cancer risk with increasing radon exposure (ERR/WLM = 0.0019).86

86 Kreuzer, M., Grosche, B., Schnelzer, M., Tschense, A., Dufey, F. and Walsh, L. 2010, Radon and risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular diseases in the German uranium miners cohort study: follow-up 1946–2003, Radiation and environmental biophysics, 49(2), pp.177-185. An update of this study found that the lung-cancer risk actually in­creased threefold (to ERR/WLM = 0.006) with the extended observation period to 2013.87

87 Kreuzer, M., Sobotzki, C., Schnelzer, M. and Fenske, N. 2017, Factors modifying the radon-related lung cancer risk at low exposures and exposure rates among German uranium miners, Radiation research, 189(2), pp.165-176.Also, the authors found 3,942 miners from the cohort had died from lung cancer during their increased observation period from 1946 to 2013. Unfortunately, the new study omits the number of deaths from extra-pulmonary can­cers, heart diseases and cerebro-vascular diseases which had been observed in the earlier cohort study. 49

URANIUM MINE TAILINGS

After mining, milling and the removal of uranium from its ore, the residues are pumped to tailing piles or pools. Since the average uranium content in ore is typically about 0.1 percent to 0.15 percent, almost all of the ore winds up in the tailings. The result is very large amounts of tailings at uranium mines. For example, by 2016, Canadian mining companies had accumulated about 200 million tons of uranium mine tailings at closed mines and another 17 million tons at operating mines (excluding waste rock and contaminated water).88

88 Government of Canada 2016, Inventory of Radioactive Waste in Canada 2016, viewed 24 May 2019, https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/energy/pdf/uranium-nuclear/17-0467%20Canada% 20Radioactive%20Waste%20Report_access_e.pdf

Because of the large volumes of sulphuric acid used, high levels of heavy metals such as copper, zinc, nickel, and lead are mobilized, which are toxic to wildlife. Severe contamination of ground water consti­tutes a permanent risk. Health Canada, a department of the Canadian government, has warned that “the food chain can be contaminated unless appropriate mitigation is instituted. Fish, wildlife, vegetation, country foods, and drinking water are all at risk should spills or leakages occur. The need to manage the water from waste management areas is important, particularly if there are drinking water sources in the vicinity.” 89

89 Government of Canada 2008, Canadian Handbook on Health Impact Assessment — Volume 4: Health Impacts B y Industry Sector, viewed 24 May 2019, http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/H46-2-04-363E.pdf

Undisturbed ore contains all the radioactive daughter isotopes of uranium listed above in this section in secular equilibrium; its Becquerel amount thus remains constant. Uranium mill tailings contain all the products of the U-238 decay chain. The total radioactivity of these nuclides is approximately 80 percent of the radioactivity in the original ore, although the exact percentage depends on how long the ore has been exposed to air. Tailings can also contain significant quantities of hazardous chemicals such as copper, zinc, nickel, lead, arsenic, molybdenum, and selenium, depending upon the ore source and the reagents in the milling process.

Uranium tailings remain problematic because their radionuclides have multiple routes to living beings. Radon gas and the radioactive decay products of radon can be inhaled. Radioactive and toxic chemicals can be ingested with food and water, and external gamma radiation is emitted by the tailings. Contrary to popular belief, inhalation is the most important route as its collective doses are considerably larger than those from other exposure paths.

The existence of tailings piles and pools remains problematic because one of the decay products (thori­um-230, which has a half-life 80,000 years) continues to generate the many nuclides in its decay chain for millennia. These accumulate under waste containers or they may penetrate or permeate them depend-ing on the soil depths and the permeability of the types of containers currently in use. Such permeation means that radioactive lead-210 or polonium-210 can reach surface soils on top of tailings in high con­centrations via plant uptakes (these materials have half-lives of 22.3 years and 138 days respectively).90

90 Pérez-Sánchez, D. and Thorne, M.C. 2014, An investigation into the upward transport of uranium-series radionuclides in soils and uptake by plants, Journal of Radiological Protection, 34(3), pp. 545.

Few studies have quantified the risks from uranium mill tailings. In a 1983 report, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated the lifetime excess lung cancer risk of residents living near a bare tail­ings pile of 80 hectares (0.8 km²) at two cases per hundred residents.91

91 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1983, “40 CFR Part 192 Environmental Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings at Licensed Commercial Processing Sites,” in: Federal Register Vol.48, No.196, Washington D.C. October 7 1983, pp. 45940. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1983-10-07/content-detail.htmlRadon gas from mill tailings can 50

spread with wind and rain, so that there is also a danger that people further away will also be exposed. While the risks to these individuals are expected to be small, they cannot be neglected as radiation risks extend down to zero dose. As potentially large numbers of people may be exposed, their collective doses and risks must be estimated.92

92 Fairlie, I. and Sumner, D. 2000, In Defence of Collective Dose, Journal of Radiological Protection, 20(1), pp. 9.

The health risks associated with uranium conversion and enrichment are mostly due to the inhalation and/or ingestion of uranium in its different chemical forms. In the U-235 enrichment process, uranium concentrate from milling (U3O8), which is also called yellowcake, is converted into uranium hexafluo­ride (UF6), a highly volatile gas that is extremely chemically reactive and radiologically toxic. In addition, UF6 gas immediately reacts with water vapor in air to form hydrofluoric acid (HF), which is even more reactive and highly toxic, causing pulmonary irritation, oedema, and corrosion of the lining of lungs at low concentrations. It also causes seizures and death in people exposed to high concentrations.93

93 US National Library of Medicine (NLM), undated, Uranium Hexafluoride. CASRN: 7783-81-5, viewed 29 May 2019, https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+4501

4.3 RISKS FROM OPERATION

RISKS FROM GASES, LIQUIDS AND SOLID WASTE

During normal operation, nuclear power plants routinely produce a significant amount of solid waste as well as liquid and gaseous discharges.

Risks from routinely storing solid waste arise from limited storage space and insufficient safety on-site; they drastically increase if the nuclear waste is involved in malfunctions of, or accidents within, nuclear facilities. Given the planned lifetime extensions of nuclear power plants in many countries around the world,94

94 Schneider et al. 2018 the accumulation of hazardous operational waste in older nuclear power plants could induce additional exposure to radiation.

Given the planned lifetime extensions of nuclear power plants in many countries, the accumulation of hazardous operational waste in older nuclear power plants could induce additional exposure to radiation.

In addition to solid waste, nuclear power plants also emit radioactive gases and liquids to the surround­ings. The main radioactive releases are tritium (hydrogen-3, half-life of 12.3 years), carbon-14 (5,730 years), krypton-85 (10.8 years), argon-41 (1.8 hours), and a number of iodine isotopes including iodine-129 (16 million years). The majority of annual air emissions (about 70 to 80 percent) are released during annu­al refueling. These increase the estimated doses to residents nearby by a factor of at least 20 compared to releases averaged over a year.95

95 UK Health Protection Agency 2011, “Short-Term Releases to the Atmosphere” National Dose Assessment Working Group, viewed 29 May 2019, https://srp-uk.org/resources/national-dose-assessmentThe main risk drivers are the emissions of tritium and carbon-14. Although the emissions of radioactive noble gases are slightly greater than those of tritium, these inert gases are not thought to contribute significantly to overall doses from reactor emissions.

Gaseous emissions result in greater individual and collective doses than liquid discharges do. They may contribute to a higher risk to develop leukemia near nuclear power plants. The first recorded leukemia 51

cluster near nuclear facilities in Europe was in 1984 in the UK near the Sellafield nuclear facility. In sub­sequent years, increased incidences of childhood leukemia occurred near other nuclear facilities in the UK,96

96 Forman, D., Cook-Mozaffari, P., Darby, S., Davey, G., Stratton, I., Doll, R., and Pike, M. 1987, Cancer near nuclear installations, Nature, 329(6139), pp. 499-505. ,97

97 Gardner, M.J. 1991, Father’s occupational exposure to radiation and the raised level of childhood leukemia near the Sellafield nuclear plant, Environmental health perspectives, 94, pp.5-7. in France,98

98 Pobel, D. and Viel, J.F. 1997, Case-control study of leukemia among young people near La Hague nuclear reprocessing plant: the environmental hypothesis revisited, Bmj, 314(7074), pp. 101. and in Germany.99

99 Baker, P.J. and Hoel, D.G. 2007, Metaanalysis of standardized incidence and mortality rates of childhood leukaemia in proximity to nuclear facilities, European Journal of cancer care, 16(4), pp. 355-363.

In 2008, the German government published a major epidemiology study called Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants. This report found a 120 percent increase in leukemia and a 60 percent increase in all cancers among infants and children under five years old living within five kilometers of all German reactors.100

100 Kaatsch, P., Spix, C., SchulzeRath, R., Schmiedel, S. and Blettner, M. 2008, Leukemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants. International Journal of Cancer, 122(4), pp. 721-726 , 101

101 Spix, C., Schmiedel, S., Kaatsch, P., Schulze-Rath, R. and Blettner, M. 2008, Case–control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980–2003, European Journal of Cancer, 44(2), pp. 275-284. The increase of risk with proximity to the reactor site was statistically signif­icant for all cancers. The study reignited the international debate on childhood leukemia near nuclear power plants. Researchers undertook similar studies in the UK,102

102 UK Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment 2011, “Further Consideration of the Incidence of Childhood Leukemia Around Nuclear Power Plants in Great Britain, 14th Report,” COMARE France,103

103 SermageFaure, C., Laurier, D., GoujonBellec, S., Chartier, M., GuyotGoubin, A., Rudant, J., Hémon, D. and Clavel, J. 2012, Childhood leukemia around French nuclear power plantsthe Geocap study, 20022007, International journal of cancer, 131(5), pp. E769-E780. and Switzerland.104

104 Spycher, B.D., Feller, M., Zwahlen, M., Röösli, M., von der Weid, N.X., Hengartner, H., Egger, M., Kuehni, C.E., Swiss Paediatric Oncology Group and Swiss National Cohort Study Group 2011, Childhood cancer and nuclear power plants in Switzerland: a census-based cohort study, International journal of epidemiology, 40(5), pp.1247-1260. Taken together, the research provides strong statistical evidence that leukemia increases near nuclear reac­tors.

Various studies have identified several possible causes for the phenomenon, including pre-paternal ex­posures to occupational doses received by fathers,105

105 Gardner, M.J., Snee, M.P., Hall, A.J., Powell, C.A., Downes, S. and Terrell, J.D. 1990, Results of case-control study of leu kemia and lymphoma among young people near Sellafield nuclear plant in West Cumbria. Bmj, 300(6722), pp. 423-429. a postulated virus from population-mixing,106

106 Kinlen, L.J. 2004, Childhood leukemia and population mixing, Pediatrics, 114(1), pp. 330-331. an unusual response to infectious diseases in children,107

107 Greaves, M. 2006, Infection, immune responses and the aetiology of childhood leukemia, Nature Reviews Cancer, 6(3), pp.193. a genetic pre-disposition to cancer, high labelling of the embryos/fetuses of pregnant women near nuclear power plants,108

108 Fairlie, I. 2014, A hypothesis to explain childhood cancers near nuclear power plants, Journal of environmental radioactivity, 133, pp. 10-17. or a combination of these factors. Whatever the final explanation, the evidence worldwide shows that living near nuclear reactors entails serious health risks for babies and young children.109

109 Laurier, D., Jacob, S., Bernier, M.O., Leuraud, K., Metz, C., Samson, E. and Laloi, P. 2008, Epidemiological studies of leukemia in children and young adults around nuclear facilities: a critical review, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 132(2), pp. 182-190.While the evidence of association strongly suggests living near nuclear power presents serious health risks the causes cannot be definitively deter­mined and so the issue remains controversial.

RISKS TO NUCLEAR WORKERS

Over the past two decades, the average exposures of nuclear workers in European countries have gen­erally declined. Much of the collective dose continues to be received by temporary workers, nuclear 52

sub-contractor workers, and the operators of fuel chain facilities. Although exposures may be declining, the perceived risks from them are increasing. In 2015, a large epidemiology study110

110 Leuraud, K., Richardson, D.B., Cardis, E., Daniels, R.D., Gillies, M., O’hagan, J.A., Hamra, G.B., Haylock, R., Laurier, D., Moissonnier, M. and Schubauer-Berigan, M.K. 2015, Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study, The Lancet Haematology, 2(7), pp. e276-e281 by scientists from national health institutes in the US, UK, and France of over 300,000 nuclear workers found that their leukemia risks were more than double those found in an earlier study.111

111 Cardis, E., Vrijheid, M., Blettner, M., Gilbert, E., Hakama, M., Hill, C., Howe, G., Kaldor, J., Muirhead, C.R., Schubauer-Berigan, M. and Yoshimura, T. 2005, Risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study in 15 countries, Bmj, 331(7508), pp. 77 A few months later a second study– this time for all solid cancers112

112 Richardson, D.B., Cardis, E., Daniels, R.D., Gillies, M., O’Hagan, J.A., Hamra, G.B., Haylock, R., Laurier, D., Leuraud, K., Moissonnier, M. and Schubauer-Berigan, M.K. 2015, Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States (INWORKS), bmj, 351, pp. h5359 — done by largely the same team of scientists found large abso­lute risks of solid cancers, with 47 percent per Gray (Gy)113

113 The gray is a derived unit of ionizing radiation dose. It is defined as the absorption of one joule of radiation energy per kilogram of matter much higher than researchers had expected. These risks are considerably larger than the ICRP’s estimate of 5 percent per Gy.

4.4 RISKS FROM SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

After nuclear fuel has undergone fission for three to four years, it is termed ‘spent’ and is placed in cooling pools. However, the adjective ‘spent’ is misleading as the fuel continues to emit large amounts of radiation for tens of thousands of years. For example, even after ten years’ cooling, radiation dose rates from un­shielded used fuel assemblies range from 1 to 100 Gy per hour depending on the type of fuel, its burnup, and how long it has been out of the reactor. A dose of 4 to 5 Gy is usually considered lethal.114

114 US Nuclear Regulatory Commission 2019, “Legal Dose”, Online glossary entry, viewed 29 May 2019, https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/lethal-dose-ld.html An unshielded, freshly unloaded spent fuel element delivers a lethal dose at one-meter distance in less than one minute.

For this reason, spent fuel is either transferred under water, transported in heavily shielded casks to fuel ponds at reactor sites, or transferred into equally shielded dry store casks. Exposure rates near these casks vary considerably according to the type of fuel (uranium oxide or uranium-plutonium mixed ox­ide) fuel utilization or ‘burnups’ and the age of the spent fuel. Dose rates are estimated at 1 meter from German Castor dry store casks to be about 0.1 mSv/hour, for French TN28 flasks 0.04 mSv/hour.115

115 Wilkinson, W. 2006, Radiation Dose Assessment for the Transport of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Materials, World Nuclear Transport Institute, viewed 24 May 2019, https://www.wnti.co.uk/media/31656/IP8_EN_MAR13_V2.pdf

Countries have different regulations for how high dose-rates workers can be exposed to. In Canada, maximum allowable exposures to workers near dry store flasks are 2 mSv/hour at contact with the flask surface and 0.1 mSv/hour at one meter away. In the US, NRC regulations limit exposures to 10 mSv/hour at contact and 0.1 mSv/hour two meters away. Spent nuclear fuel contains most of the radioactivity in the world’s nuclear waste, and consists of fission and activation products.116

116 The major activation products are plutonium-239, plutonium-240, plutonium-241, plutonium-242 and tritium. A series of ‘minor’ actinides are also formed: neptunium-237, curium-242, curium-244, americium-241, and americium-243. In addition, approximately 700 fission products are formed in spent fuel, most of them short-lived. The main risk drivers include caesium-134, caesium-137, strontium-90, technecium-99 and cobalt-60 as these have longer half-lives and emit powerful gamma rays. Tritium (H-3), the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, is also formed as a tertiary fission product.

RISKS OF SPENT FUEL IN POOLS

The continued practise of storing spent nuclear fuel for long periods in pools at most nuclear power plants worldwide constitutes a major risk to the public and to the environment.117

117 Alvarez, R. 2011, Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the US, Institute for Policy Studies.Spent fuel pools must 53

be constantly monitored, continually cooled to remove decay heat, and chemically adjusted to ensure correct alkalinity levels. If cooling were to fail for any reason, the pools would fully evaporate within a few days and the fuel assemblies could ignite as their zirconium cladding would react strongly with oxygen in air.118

118 von Hippel, F.N. and Schoeppner, M. 2016, Reducing the danger from fires in spent fuel pools, Science & Global Security, 24(3), pp. 141-173. The same would occur if the pond waters were emptied for any reason, such as a breach of the walls of the pools caused by a terrorist attack. These problems grow worse over time by the fact that the lengths of time spent fuel stays in pools has been increasing and now routinely extend for several decades.

The continued practise of storing spent nuclear fuel for long periods in pools at most nuclear power plants worldwide constitutes a major risk to the public and to the environment. Spent nuclear fuel contains most of the radioactivity in the world’s nuclear waste, and consists of fission and activation products.

In 2014, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) examined whether to require most spent fuel currently held in pools at nuclear power plants to be moved into dry casks and storage vaults. Such a move would reduce the likelihood and consequences of a spent fuel pool fire. It concluded that the pro­jected benefits did not justify the estimated US$4 billion cost of a wholesale transfer.119

119 Barto, A. 2014, Consequence study of a beyond-design-basis earthquake affecting the spent fuel pool for a US Mark I boiling water reactor, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research.

However, the NRC report was criticized for seriously underestimating the risk and consequences of a spent fuel fire: models of a potential accident at US nuclear fuel storage sites estimated very serious ef­fects of hypothetical radionuclide releases.120

120 von Hippel, F.N. and Schoeppner, M. 2017, Economic Losses from a Fire in a Dense-Packed US Spent Fuel Pool, Science & Global Security, 25(2), pp.80-92. They contained maps illustrating the radioactive plumes across large areas of northeastern United States. The lead author, Professor Frank von Hippel, Princeton University, warned of drastic economic consequences: “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequenc­es.” 121

121 Stone, R. 2016, “Spent fuel fire on US soil could dwarf impact of Fukushima”, Science, May 24, viewed 25 May 2019, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/spent-fuel-fire-us-soil-could-dwarf-impact-fukushimaThis risk not just affects the US but most countries that operate nuclear power plants, where increasing amounts of spent fuel are being left in cooling pools for increasingly long periods of time.

The absence of robust proven technical solutions and the existence of political opposition to plans for nuclear waste facilities make this difficult situation even more problematic. The present situation poses considerable challenges for current governments and future generations.

In the meantime, it is widely accepted that spent nuclear fuel requires well-designed storage for long periods to minimize the risks of releases of the contained radioactivity to the environment. Safeguards are also required to ensure that neither plutonium nor highly enriched uranium is diverted to weapons use.

4.5 RISKS FROM THE REPROCESSING OF SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

Two main means exist for managing spent nuclear fuel: long-term storage with the ultimate aim of di­rect disposal and reprocessing. This section discusses the latter method. In the 1950s and 1960s, during the Cold War, countries constructed reprocessing plants in order to create weapons with plutonium separated from spent fuel. 54

Reprocessing involves the dissolution of spent fuel in boiling concentrated nitric acid followed by the physico-chemical separation of plutonium and uranium from the dissolved fuel. This difficult, complex, expensive and dangerous process results in numerous nuclear waste streams, very large releases of nu­clide waste to air and sea, and large radiation exposures to workers and to the public.

Only about 15 percent of the world’s spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed. Most countries have abandoned the reprocessing option and currently only France and Russia practice plutonium separation on a com­mercial scale. These countries that have historically carried out the work for a range of other countries now mainly process their own fuel. Reprocessing creates large quantities of highly active liquid (HAL) waste, which are heat-producing and extremely radioactive. As described below, liquid waste presents severe problems for current waste management. Originally, liquid waste was to be glassified and stored in a more manageable solid form called vitrified waste. However, such processes, though implemented rather successfully in France, have proved difficult in the UK and the US, and much of this waste may remain in liquid form for the immediate future. In addition to HAL waste, reprocessing also results in the following waste streams:

  1. Emissions of radionuclides in the air
  2. Discharge of radionuclides into the sea
  3. Large stockpiles of separated plutonium
  4. Tens of thousands of drums with separated reprocessed uranium
  5. Thousands of steel canisters containing vitrified waste
  6. Radioactive graphite from AGR fuel sleeves and decommissioned reactors
  7. Concrete silos filled with fuel claddings stripped from spent fuel, and
  8. Many other radioactive waste, including sludges, resins, and filters.

 

The collective doses to the world’s population from the long-lived gaseous nuclides C-14, and I-129, and from medium-lived Kr-85 and H-3 (tritium) emitted at Sellafield and La Hague are very large, much high­er than for nuclear power plants. While any discharge of alpha emitters is prohibited at reactor sites, it is authorized at La Hague within the limits of 0.01 GBq in gaseous and 140 GBq in liquid effluents.122

122 Schneider, M., and Marignac, Y. 2008, “Reprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel in France”, International Panel on Fissile Materials, Research Report #4, viewed 24 May 2018, http://fissilematerials.org/publications/2008/05/spent_nuclear_fuel_reprocessin.html

The global collective dose, truncated at 100,000 years, resulting from the discharges of the La Hague reprocessing facility alone has been calculated to be 3,600 person sieverts per year.123

123 Smith, R., Bexon, A., Sihra, K., Simmonds, J.2007, “The calculation, presentation and use of collective doses for routine discharges,” In Proceedings of IRPA12: 12. Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association: Strengthening Radiation Protection Worldwide-Highlights, Global Perspective and Future Trends.Continuing dis­charges at similar levels for the years of La Hague’s operational life until 2025 would cause over 3,000 additional cancer deaths globally, if the linear no-threshold theory of radiation is applied. 55

FISSILE MATERIALS

The original purpose of reprocessing was to obtain fissile plutonium for nuclear weapons. This rationale has changed over the years, at least since the mid-1990s, when the major nuclear weapon states ceased the separation of plutonium for military purposes. Moreover, in 2017, the UN General Assembly agreed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a legally binding international agreement to compre­hensively prohibit nuclear weapons. Countries that persist with reprocessing face particular challenges of proliferation and security risks, such as the vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

In 2007, the UK’s prestigious Royal Society warned that the potential consequences of a major security breach or accident involving the UK’s stockpile of separated plutonium “are so severe that the Gov­ernment should urgently develop and implement a strategy for its long term use or disposal.”124

124 The Royal Society 2007, Strategy options for the UK’s separated Plutonium, Policy document 24/07, viewed 29 May 2019, https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2007/8018.pdf These stocks amounted to 100 tons in 2007. By 2017, they had increased to 140 tons.125

125 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) 2017, The United Kingdom’s Sixth National Report on Compliance with the Obligations of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management, viewed 25 May 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-sixth-national-report-on-com-pliance-with-the-obligations-of-the-joint-convention-on-the-safety-of-spent-fuel-and-radioactive-waste-management In the past 10 years, successive UK Governments have failed to develop a policy for this fissile waste. Japan faces a similar dilemma with a large stock of separated plutonium, a commercial reprocessing plant under construc­tion, and only a small plutonium absorption capacity. France, however, remains the only country legally committed to large-scale reprocessing.

MIXED OXIDE FUEL (MOX)

A later justification for reprocessing was the goal to use the separated plutonium oxide in plutoni­um-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel, first for Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs), then as substitute for uranium fuel for Light Water Reactors (LWRs). FBR programs have been terminated in most countries and MOX fuel has proved to be several times more expensive than uranium fuel because of indispensable additional safety and security measures. Spent MOX fuel is not reprocessed anywhere, as the plutonium quality is degraded, and it is significantly more radioactive and hotter when it exits reactors. Compared to uranium fuel, MOX requires either over a century longer cooling periods in intermediate storage, or at least three times more space in a final repository. This has serious economic consequences as the inventory of a waste repository is generally limited by the thermal load.

4.6 DECOMMISSIONING RISKS

Once a nuclear power plant is closed, the spent fuel has to be removed, cooling systems and moderators drained. The process of defueling, deconstruction, and dismantling of a nuclear power plant is called decommissioning. In 2018, 154 nuclear reactors worldwide were awaiting, or are in various stages of decommissioning. Another 19 had been fully decommissioned, mostly in the US (13) and Germany (5). The average duration of reactor decommissioning is around 19 years, in most cases longer than the con­struction and operational period of the reactor combined.126

126 Schneider et al. 2018

A reactor is considered “fully decommissioned”, when the reactor building has been entirely emptied and can be put to other use or when every building has been removed but the spent fuel is still on-site. The decommission state is considered “greenfield” if all buildings and waste have been removed and the site can be freely used for other purposes. Only 10 of the 19 reactors fully decommissioned so far have reached the greenfield status. In some cases graphite reactor cores remain in situ in shielded buildings for later dismantlement. 56

These two basic strategies for decommissioning are Immediate Dismantling (ID) and Long-Term En­closure (LTE, termed “SAFSTOR” in the US). In general, ID is preferable as the skills and experiences of operating staff can be used, a clear line of responsibilities still exists, public interest is continuing, and the finance set aside is more likely to match the necessary work. Some large nuclear countries like France and Germany have made ID their principle policy. LTE usually runs the risk of losing human competences, clear lines of responsibility, corporate continuity and public interest, thus dragging out decommissioning for decades.

CONTINUED RADIONUCLIDE EMISSIONS FROM DECOMMISSIONED REACTORS

A variety of radionuclides are released not only from operating reactors but also from closed ones, es­pecially gaseous emissions of tritium and carbon-14. Nuclide emissions data in the UK Government’s annual Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) publication reveal that the Winfrith reactors which closed in 1995 still emitted two trillion (2 x 1012) becquerels per year of tritium in 2016, more than 20 years later.127

127 Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) 2017, Radioactivity in Food and the Environment. RIFE Report 22, viewed 24 May 2019, https://www.sepa.org.uk/media/328601/rife-22.pdf Similar patterns are observed at the long-closed reactors at Trawsfynydd, Dounreay, Chapelcross and all closed Magnox stations. In Canada, the small experimental reactors at Whiteshell and Rolphton, which were closed over 30 years ago, are still reported as emitting large quantities of tritium each year. The available data so far only concern Magnox and heavy water reactors. During their operations, high concentrations of tritium and C-14 are absorbed into the concrete and steel structures of Magnox and HWR reactors and their containment structures. After the cessation of fission, these nuclides continue to seep out over decades-long time scales.

DECOMMISSIONING VS OPERATIONAL EXPOSURES

It has been claimed that worker exposures from reactor decommissioning will be significant and that decommissioning should be postponed for as long as possible. However, the European Commission (EC) has calculated that the dose reduction from the closure of a nuclear plant is considerably greater than the impact of its decommissioning. The EC estimated that the collective dose from atmospheric emissions during decommissioning of a nuclear facility in the EU in 2004 was about 2 person-sieverts per year, compared to about 150 person-sieverts per year from the operation of each nuclear facility in the EU.128

128 European Commission 2007, Guidance on the calculation, presentation and use of collective doses for routine discharges, Radiation Protection Report 144. Directorate-General for Energy Directorate D— Nuclear Energy Unit D.4 — Radiation Protection. 57

4.7 SUMMARY

Nuclear waste constitutes a health hazard for several reasons. First are the reported health impacts from routine gaseous and liquid waste emissions from nuclear facilities. Second are the very large global collective doses from nuclear reprocessing. And third is the unsatisfactory and unstable condition of much of the nuclear waste already created. High-level waste (HLW) in the form of spent nuclear fuel and vitrified waste from reprocessing contains more than 90 percent of the radioactivity in nuclear waste. However, there is no fully operational HLW final disposal site in the world. The continued practise of storing spent nuclear fuel for long periods in pools at most nuclear power plants worldwide constitutes a major risk to the public and to the environment. Spent nuclear fuel contains most of the radioactivity in the world’s nuclear waste, and consists of fission and activation products.

Estimates of the impacts of an operational HLW disposal remain speculative, but HLW still poses key questions of intergenerational liability and justice. The very long time-frames involved—the half life of Pu-239 is over 24,000 years—remains the single most important factor distinguishing nuclear waste from other kinds of waste.

Reprocessing of nuclear fuel creates more accessible forms of highly dangerous radioactive wastes, proliferation problems, high exposures to workers and the public, and radioactive contamination of the air and seas.

Only few countries do publish information, for example, on nuclide inventories in wastes. Such data collection and dissemination are primarily the responsibility of national governments. The data is need­ed to properly assess risks from nuclear waste and develop hazard rankings which tie observed health effects to exposures. So far, no comprehensive hazard scheme exists for the radionuclides in nuclear waste.

Risks may be derived from epidemiological studies, but the few that exist are of limited quality. Some studies suggest increased cancer rates, for example, but are individually too small to give statistically significant results. Meta-analyses could combine smaller studies to generate larger datasets which do produce statistically significant findings. However, meta-analyses on nuclear waste are notable for their virtual absence. The result is that many small studies continue to be criticized for their lack of statistical significance.

Finally, in order to assess risks, it is also necessary to have accurate doses, but these are often not measured in epidemiology studies. Even if they do exist they can often be unreliable due to the large uncertainties which surround them.

 

 


 

 THE WORLD

NUCLEAR WASTE

REPORT 2019

EXECUTIVE

SUMMARY

Focus Europe

 

This report would have not been possible without the generous support of a diverse group of friends and partners, in particular – listed in alphabetical order – the Altner-Combecher Stiftung, Bäuerliche Notgemeinschaft Trebel, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND), Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow-Dannenberg e.V., Climate Core and Green/EFA MEPs Group in the European Parliament,Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (HBS) and its offices in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Prague, and Washington DC, KLAR! Schweiz, Annette und Wolf Römmig, and the Swiss Energy Foundation. Thank you all formaking this possible!

 

CONTENTS

Title page............................................................................................................................................................................... 1

Partners & Sponsors......................................................................................................................................................... 2

Foreword.............................................................................................................................................................................. 3

Acknowledgments.............................................................................................................................................................. 5

Key Insights......................................................................................................................................................................... 9

Executive summary...........................................................................................................................................................11

1. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................................. 17

2. ORIGINS AND CLASSIFICATION.................................................................................................................. 20

2.1 Types of waste: the nuclear fuel chain............................................................................................................21

Uranium mining, milling, processing and fuel fabrication........................................................................ 22

Nuclear fission (fuel irradiation)....................................................................................................................... 23

Management of spent fuel................................................................................................................................. 23

Reactor (and fuel chain facility) decommissioning..................................................................................... 23

2.2 Waste quantities and activity........................................................................................................................... 24

2.3 Classification systems and categories............................................................................................................ 24

2.3.1 The IAEA classification.............................................................................................................................. 25

2.3.2 The EU classification..................................................................................................................................27

2.3.3 Examples of national classifications......................................................................................................27

2.4 Summary................................................................................................................................................................30

3. QUANTITIES OF WASTE.................................................................................................................................. 31

3.1 Reporting obligations............................................................................................................................................31

3.2 Waste quantities along the supply chain........................................................................................................31

Uranium mining and fuel fabrication...............................................................................................................31

Operational waste................................................................................................................................................ 32

Spent nuclear fuel................................................................................................................................................ 33

Decommissioning waste.....................................................................................................................................34

Estimated waste quantities along the supply chain.................................................................................... 35

3.3 Reported waste quantities under the Joint Convention.............................................................................37

Uranium mining and fuel fabrication...............................................................................................................37

Low- and intermediate-level waste..................................................................................................................37

Spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste........................................................................................................40

3.4 Summary................................................................................................................................................................ 43

4. RISKS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN HEALTH.................................................................... 45

4.1 Radiation risks of nuclear waste....................................................................................................................... 45

4.2 Risks from uranium mining, mine tailings, enrichment, and fuel fabrication.....................................46

Health risks from exposures to uranium........................................................................................................47

Uranium mining.................................................................................................................................................... 48

Uranium mine tailings........................................................................................................................................ 49

4.3 Risks from operation...........................................................................................................................................50

Risks from gases, liquids and solid waste......................................................................................................50

Risks to nuclear workers..................................................................................................................................... 51

4.4 Risks from spent nuclear fuel........................................................................................................................... 52

Risks of spent fuel in pools................................................................................................................................ 527

4.5 Risks from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel...................................................................................... 53

Fissile materials.................................................................................................................................................... 55

Mixed oxide fuel (MOX)...................................................................................................................................... 55

4.6 Decommissioning risks....................................................................................................................................... 55

Continued radionuclide emissions from decommissioned reactors......................................................56

Decommissioning vs operational exposures................................................................................................56

4.7 Summary..................................................................................................................................................................57

5. WASTE MANAGEMENT CONCEPTS........................................................................................................... 58

5.1 Historical background........................................................................................................................................ 58

5.2 The context of nuclear waste management..................................................................................................63

5.3 Management concepts for nuclear waste......................................................................................................65

Disposal concepts................................................................................................................................................65

Host rocks..............................................................................................................................................................66

LILW-repositories................................................................................................................................................ 67

HLW-repositories................................................................................................................................................. 68

Deep borehole disposal...................................................................................................................................... 70

5.4 Interim strategies: storage................................................................................................................................. 71

Interim storage...................................................................................................................................................... 71

Extended storage..................................................................................................................................................73

5.5 Summary.................................................................................................................................................................75

6. COSTS AND FINANCING.................................................................................................................................76

6.1 The nature of the funding systems for decommissioning, storage, and disposal............................... 76

Basic liability for decommissioning and waste management................................................................... 76

Overview and nature of the funds....................................................................................................................77

Accumulation of the funds..................................................................................................................................78

6.2 Cost estimations and experiences................................................................................................................... 79

Cost estimation methodologies........................................................................................................................ 79

Decommissioning costs......................................................................................................................................80

Disposal costs........................................................................................................................................................ 82

6.3 Financing schemes............................................................................................................................................... 82

Financing schemes for decommissioning...................................................................................................... 82

Financing schemes for interim storage.......................................................................................................... 84

Financing schemes for disposal........................................................................................................................ 85

Integrated financing schemes...........................................................................................................................87

6.4 Summary................................................................................................................................................................ 88

7. COUNTRY STUDIES..........................................................................................................................................90

7.1 Czech Republic......................................................................................................................................................90

Overview.................................................................................................................................................................90

Waste classification system................................................................................................................................90

Quantities of waste...............................................................................................................................................91

Waste management policies and facilities..................................................................................................... 92

Costs and financing.............................................................................................................................................93

Summary................................................................................................................................................................94

7.2 France......................................................................................................................................................................95

Overview.................................................................................................................................................................95

Waste classification system................................................................................................................................96

Quantities of waste.............................................................................................................................................. 978

Waste management policies and facilities.....................................................................................................99

Costs and financing............................................................................................................................................ 101

Summary.............................................................................................................................................................. 103

7.3.Germany............................................................................................................................................................... 104

Overview............................................................................................................................................................... 104

Waste classification system............................................................................................................................. 105

Quantities of waste............................................................................................................................................ 105

Waste management policies and facilities....................................................................................................107

Costs and financing........................................................................................................................................... 108

Summary.............................................................................................................................................................. 109

7.4 Hungary..................................................................................................................................................................111

Overview.................................................................................................................................................................111

Waste classification system................................................................................................................................111

Quantities of waste............................................................................................................................................. 112

Waste management policies and facilities.................................................................................................... 113

Costs and financing.............................................................................................................................................114

Summary................................................................................................................................................................115

7.5 Sweden................................................................................................................................................................... 116

Overview................................................................................................................................................................ 116

Waste classification system................................................................................................................................117

Quantities of waste..............................................................................................................................................117

Waste management policies and facilities.................................................................................................... 119

Costs and financing............................................................................................................................................ 121

Summary...............................................................................................................................................................122

7.6 Switzerland...........................................................................................................................................................123

Overview................................................................................................................................................................123

Waste classification system..............................................................................................................................124

Quantities of waste.............................................................................................................................................124

Waste management policies and facilities....................................................................................................125

Costs and financing............................................................................................................................................ 127

Summary...............................................................................................................................................................128

7.7 The United Kingdom...........................................................................................................................................129

Overview................................................................................................................................................................129

Waste classification system............................................................................................................................. 130

Quantities of waste............................................................................................................................................. 131

Waste management policies and facilities....................................................................................................133

Costs and financing............................................................................................................................................134

Summary...............................................................................................................................................................135

7.8 The United States of America..........................................................................................................................136

Overview................................................................................................................................................................136

Waste classification system.............................................................................................................................. 137

Quantities of waste.............................................................................................................................................138

Waste management policies and facilities....................................................................................................139

Costs and financing.............................................................................................................................................141

Summary................................................................................................................................................................141

8. TABLE OF ABBREVIATIONS........................................................................................................................142

9. CONTRIBUTORS...............................................................................................................................................145

Imprint...................................................................................................................................................................1479

KEY INSIGHTS

WASTE MANAGEMENT CONCEPTS

  1. No country in the world has a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel in operation. Finland is the only country currently constructing a permanent repository.
  2. Despite multiple failed selection procedures and abandoned repositories, a preference for geological disposal remains. There is a strong consensus that the current state of research and exchange with civil society is inadequate for the challenges faced.
  3. With deep geological repositories not available for decades to come, the risks are increasingly shifting to interim storage facilities which are running out of capacity: for example, storage capacity for spent fuel in Finland has reached 93 percent saturation.

 

QUANTITIES OF NUCLEAR WASTE

  1. Over 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel are in storage across Europe (excluding Russia and Slovakia), most of which in France. Spent nuclear fuel is considered high-level waste and makes up the vast bulk of radioactivity. As of 2016, 81 percent of Europe’s spent fuel has been moved into wet storage, which comes with its own safety risks.
  2. Around 2.5 million m³ of low- and intermediate-level waste has been generated in Europe. Around 20 percent of this waste (0.5 million m³) has been stored; 80 percent (close to 2 million m³) has been disposed of.
  3. Decomissioning Europe’s reactors may generate at least another 1.4 million m³ of low- and intermedaite level waste.
  4. Over its lifetime, European nuclear reactors may produce around 6.6 million m³ of nuclear waste. If stacked in one place, this would fill up a football field 919 meters high, 90 meters higher than the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Four countries account for over 75 percent of this waste: France (30 percent), the UK (20 percent), Ukraine (18 percent), and Germany (8 percent).
  5. Apart from Russia, which is still produces uranium, Germany and France have the largest inventory of nuclear waste from uranium mining in Europe.

10

COSTS AND FINANCES

  1. Governments do not apply the polluter-pays-principle consistently. While operators are liable for the costs of managing, storing, and disposing of nuclear waste, costs may end up being borne by taxpayers.
  2. Governments fail to properly estimate the costs for decommissioning, storage, and disposal of nuclear waste due to underlying uncertainties. Many governments base their cost estimates on overly optimistic discount rates and outdated data, leading to serious funding gaps for waste management costs.
  3. Overall, no country has both estimated costs precisely and closed the gap between secured funds and cost estimates.

 

ORIGINS AND CLASSIFICATIONS

  1. Countries differ significantly in how they define and categorize nuclear waste and in how they report about generated amounts of nuclear waste. All countries publish regularly information, yet not all report in a thorough way.
  2. Despite international efforts to establish common safety principles and practices, such inconsistencies remain and make comparison very complex. The different national approaches reflect a lack of coherency in how countries manage nuclear waste.

 

RISKS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN HEALTH

  1. Nuclear waste constitutes a health hazard due to routine gaseous and liquid waste emissions from nuclear facilities and the global collective doses from reprocessing.
  2. Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel poses increased challenges, including proliferation risks, high exposures to humans, and contamination of the environment.
  3. Overall, there is a lack of comprehensive, quantitative and qualitative information on risks associated with nuclear waste.

 

 

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The WORLD NUCLEAR WASTE REPORT (WNWR) shows that governments around the world have been struggling for decades to develop and implement comprehensive nuclear waste management strat­egies. Much of the task will fall onto future generations.

WASTE MANAGEMENT CONCEPTS

More than 70 years after the start of the nuclear age, no country in the world has a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel in operation. Finland is the only country that is currently constructing a permanent repository for this most dangerous type of nuclear waste. Besides Finland, only Sweden and France have de facto deter­mined the location for a high-level waste repository in an early confinement process. The US is operating the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP). However, this repository is only used for long-lived transuranic waste from nuclear weapons, not for spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors.

Despite multiple examples of failed selection procedures and abandoned repositories, current nation­al and international governance show a preference for geological disposal. This requires clear and am­bitious conditions for the site selection, exploration, and approval processes. Still, there is no guarantee for the feasibility of deep geological disposal. This is why the process of searching for such repositories must be implemented with extraordinary care on the basis of industrial feasibility and accompanied by appropriate monitoring. Some scientists consider that monitored, long-term storage in a protected environment is more responsible, much faster to achieve and should therefore be implemented. Overall there is a strong consensus that the current state of research and scientific debate and exchange with politicians and involved citizens is not adequate for the magnitude of the challenge.

The conditioning, transport, storage and disposal of nuclear waste constitute significant and growing challenges for all nuclear countries. These developments show that governments and authorities are under pressure to improve the management of interim storage and disposal programs. Accordingly, standards must be implemented for the governance of the programs, including planning quality and safety, quality assurance, citizen participation and safety culture.

Interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste will continue for a century or more. With deep geological repositories not available for decades to come, the risks are increasingly shifting to interim storage. The current storage practices for spent nuclear fuel and other easily dispersible inter­mediate- and high-level waste forms were not planned for the long-term. These practices thus repre­sent a growing and particularly high risk, especially when other options are available (solidification, dry storage) in hardened facilities. Extended storage of nuclear waste increases risks today, adds billions in costs, and shifts these burdens to future generations.

QUANTITIES OF NUCLEAR WASTE

European countries have produced several million cubic meters of nuclear waste (not even including uranium mining and processing wastes). By the end of 2016, France, the United Kingdom and Germany were Europe’s biggest producers of nuclear waste along the nuclear fuel chain. 4

Over 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel are stored across Europe (excluding Russia and Slovakia), most of which in France (Table 1). Within the EU, France accounts for 25 percent of the current spent nuclear fuel, followed by Germany (15 percent) and the United Kingdom (14 percent). Spent nuclear fuel is considered high-level waste. Though present in comparably small volumes, it makes up the vast bulk of radioactivity. TABLE 1: Reported spent nuclear fuel inventories in Europe and amount in wet storage as of December 31, 2016

 

Country
SNF inventory [tons]
Fuel Assemblies*
Wet Storage [tons]
SNF in wet storage [%]
BELGIUM
501**
4,173
237
47%
BULGARIA
876
4,383
788
90%
CZECH REPUBLIC
1,828
11,619
654
36%
FINLAND
2,095
13,887
2,095
100%
FRANCE
13,990
n.a.
13,990
100%
GERMANY
8,485
n.a.
3,609
43%
HUNGARY
1,261
10,507
216
17%
LITHUANIA
2,210
19,731
1,417
64%
THE NETHERLANDS
80***
266
80
100%
ROMANIA
2,867
151,686
1,297
45%
SLOVENIA
350
884
350
100%
SPAIN
4,975
15,082
4,400
91%
SWEDEN
6,758
34,204
6,758
100%
SWITZERLAND
1,377
6,474
831
60%
UKRAINE *
4,651****
27,325
4,081
94%
UNITED KINGDOM
7,700
n.a.
7,700
100%
TOTAL
ca. 60,500
ca. 49,000
 
81%
 
*
Conference Monday, 11. November 2019 /

Berlin

Launch of the World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR) - Focus Europe

Date, Time

Mon, 11. Nov 2019,
10:00 am – 3:30 pm
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Address

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung - Headquarter Berlin
Schumannstr. 8
10117 Berlin

Language

German

English

Organizer

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Brüssel - Europäische Union

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The first edition of the World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR) – Focus Europe assesses how much waste countries have generated, how much is stored and disposed of. It provides an overview about the estimated costs for management, storage and disposal of nuclear waste and how governments try to secure funding for these costs. Finally, the report presents a short history of how countries worldwide have been struggling up until today to advance in the search for repositories. The report offers a selection of country studies, including the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A dozen of renowned international scientists has compiled the report. Authors will present key findings at the event in English. The final panel will discuss in German lessons of decade-long attempts of countries to find a final repository.

 

Programme

10:00  Welcome

  • Ellen Ueberschär, President, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung   


10:10  Nuclear waste - a challenge for more than one generation

  • Rebecca Harms, former Member of European Parliament (Alliance 90/The Greens)


10:30  The World Nuclear Waste Report – an introduction

  • Arne Jungjohann, Editor and Coordinator of the World Nuclear Waste Report


10.45  Categories and conventions

  • Florian Emrich, Head of President’s Office, Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE)
  • Gordon MacKerron*, Director of Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
  • Moderation: Arne Jungjohann


11:40  Europe’s piles of nuclear waste

  • Mycle Schneider, International Consultant, Convening Lead Author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report
  • Ben Wealer, Research Associate at Berlin Institute of Technology, guest researcher the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)
  • Moderation: Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, Member of Parliament (Alliance 90/The Greens), Chair of Committee for Environment, Nature Protection, and Nuclear Safety


12:30  Lunch Break


13:30  Closing the gap? Rising costs and the challenge of financing

  • Yves Marignac, Director, World Information Service on Energy Paris
  • Jürgen Trittin, Member of Parliament (Alliance 90/The Greens), former Chair of the Nuclear Financing Commission Germany
  • Moderation: Craig Morris, Renewable Energy Agency


14:20  Die Suche nach einem Endlager für hochradioaktive Abfälle: Kein Ende in Sicht?

  • Miranda Schreurs, Chair of National Civil Society Board (Nationales Begleitgremium), Technical University of Munich, School of Governance
  • Marcos Buser, former member of the Federal Commission for Nuclear Safety in Switzerland
  • Jorina Suckow, member of the National Civil Society Board (Nationales Begleitgremium)
  • Moderation: Rebecca Harms, former Member of European Parliament (Alliance 90/The Greens)


15:30  End of event

* to be confirmed

 

Information:

Martin Keim, Head of European Energy Transition Programme, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union | E-Mail Martin.Keim@eu.boell.org

 
Julia Bartmann, Project Officer European Union / North America Division, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung | E-Mail bartmann@boell.de