Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce will travel to sites in Switzerland and Belgium to conduct further analysis of storage facilities for used nuclear fuel.

The research will broaden the Commission’s understanding of specific details of safety regulation and licensing associated with proposed sub-surface storage facilities in those countries. It will supplement the data gathered last year through public sessions and international visits.

Commissioner Scarce said the research and additional evidence would provide extra information on an important area of the Tentative Findings, which were released on February 15, 2016.

“It has always been very clear that the safety and regulation of any future nuclear facilities is critical. We reached a tentative finding that a deep geological facility could be feasible in South Australia, based on our research to date. This included a detailed analysis of proposed facilities in Sweden and Finland,” he said.

Commissioner Scarce said the proposed sites in Switzerland and Belgium had different geology to Finland and Sweden, and used different drilling and multi-barrier processes. The purpose of the trip is to fully understand the analytical techniques these countries have used to show that the multi-barrier systems proposed will contain the radioactive material for the very long time frames required. He plans to meet with the project proponents and safety regulators to garner further information in relation to their approach to community engagement, site selection and safety testing for high level waste disposal.

“Now we have an opportunity to visit Switzerland and Belgium – countries also well advanced in their approach to underground storage – which we believe will deepen our understanding of the regulatory and safety issues,” he said.

“During our earlier visits last year, we inspected sites associated with the whole range of nuclear fuel cycle activities – from processing and enrichment plants, through to power generation facilities and storage sites. Now we have come to our Tentative Findings, it is important we add to our knowledge – in relation to safe waste storage and disposal in particular – so that we can provide additional information to the community and the State Government in our final report.”

The Commissioner visited Finland’s Onkalo spent nuclear fuel repository construction site in June 2015. During October, November and December the Commission also investigated key topics of waste storage and disposal (Topics 15 and 16), transport of radioactive materials (Topic 14) and community engagement (Topic 13) through its Public Sessions.

The Commissioner intends to hear further evidence in relation to these matters during additional public sessions on his return in mid March.