In the short term, geological disposal will no longer be necessary in the Netherlands. The small quantities of radioactive waste we produce are safely stored at COVRA. Producers of radioactive waste also pay COVRA for the geological disposal. Since we produce little radioactive waste in the Netherlands, we need sufficient time to pay for the costs of geological disposal. The Dutch government has therefore decided that COVRA must store radioactive waste for at least one hundred years before we proceed to geological disposal. At the same time, this gives us time to learn from the experiences of others. Perhaps new solutions for the geological disposal of radioactive waste will be devised in a hundred years’ time.
Why do we wait so long with the geological disposal in the Netherlands?
Where can a geological disposal repository be built?
Based on various studies, we know that geological disposal is possible at depths of between two hundred and a thousand metres. The substrate must contain stable earth layers, such as clay, salt or granite. In The Netherlands, there is a wide choice when it comes to the location of a geological disposal repository. The soil in our country contains both salt and clay.
Why is it necessary to establish a location for deep geological disposal? Are the storage facilities at COVRA unsafe?
The way radioactive waste is stored at COVRA is a proven safe technology that is used worldwide. However, this way of storing radioactive waste is not a definitive, long-term solution for the radioactive waste. After 100 years of storage, part of the waste is still radioactive. This long-lived waste can best be stored in deep, stable geological strata. This is called deep geological disposal.
According to the current state of science and technology, geological disposal is the only solution that ensures that the waste remains outside the living space (biosphere) of mankind even after thousands of years. In European legislation, geological disposal is considered a necessary last step in the processing of radioactive waste. Research into geological disposal is therefore an integral part of Dutch radioactive waste policy. Coordinating this is one of COVRA’s key tasks.