18 SEPTEMBER – PUBLIC SESSIONS – TOPIC 15

Day 24 review:

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission today further investigated the current and proposed approaches of dealing with low and intermediate level waste.

Four witnesses provided evidence on managing nuclear waste, including hearing details from Belgian, Finland and Spain, where low and intermediate level waste facilities operate.

First witness was former Senior Public Service Administrator Patrick Davoren, who held a number of senior positions in the Commonwealth Government advising on nuclear related issues and strategies. He was involved in the development of the first nationwide radioactive waste repository siting approach in collaboration with the Bureau of Rural Sciences and ANSTO. From 2005 until his retirement in 2012, Mr Davoren participated in both strategies to site a repository for Commonwealth radioactive waste. His evidence covered:

  • Characteristics of radioactive wastes, their sources of production and the relationship between those characteristics and appropriate disposal pathways
  • Case study on the National Waste Repository Project, the National Store Project and the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility Project

Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Land and Water Dr Dirk Mallants then covered the Belgian experience. Dr Mallants was previously Head of the Performance Assessments Unit at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK•CEN. In this role, he oversaw the safety assessment studies which were carried out for the Belgian repository for low-level radioactive waste. Dr Mallants is widely published in the area of water-related environmental contamination issues and has delivered IAEA training courses concerning subsurface characterisation and safety assessments for wastes arising from the nuclear fuel cycle. He addressed:

  • Case study on the establishment and operation of the ONDRAF/NIRAS low level waste surface disposal facility in Belgium

The afternoon sessions began with Dr Sami Hautakangas, from Finnish energy company Fortum, which has operations in the Nordic and the Baltic countries, Russia and Poland. Dr Sami Hautakangas is a Product Manager in Nuclear Expert Services at Fortum. Having commenced work at Fortum in 2007, he has held several roles including Manager, Nuclear Waste Research and Development, and Department Head, Nuclear Waste and Technology. Dr Hautakangas obtained his Doctoral in Engineering Physics from the Helsinki University of Technology in 2005. He spoke on a:

  • Case study on the establishment and operation of the VLJ and Loviisa repositories in Finland

The final witness was Emilio García Neri, ENRESA – the Spanish National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning. Having been created by the Spanish Parliament in 1984, it is a public company which deals with the management and storage of radioactive waste produced in Spain, the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and the environmental restoration of uranium mines and related facilities. Throughout his career, Mr Neri has worked in the coordination and monitoring of ENRESA’s activities in low and intermediate level radioactive waste management and decommissioning activities, and is the national representative on a number of European Commission and IAEA bodies, including the IAEA’s Waste Technology Advisory Committee. He provided evidence on:

  • Case study on the establishment and operation of the El Cabril low and intermediate level radioactive waste disposal facility in Spain
  • Case study on the ongoing planning for the establishment of the centralised high-level waste temporary storage facility in Spain

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

The next public session is on Monday, November 23, 2015, in the Commission’s office, 50 Grenfell St, Adelaide.

Click here for topic and witness list for this session which covers Topic 15 – High level waste storage and disposal.