Strict requirements for deep geological repositories
«I, together with other experts, oversee Nagra’s search for sites for deep geological repositories for radioactive waste. When making its proposals for sites Nagra has to adhere to the legal framework and our technical safety requirements. In order to ascertain whether these can be implemented and whether the proposals are in line with the state of the art, we also conduct our own research such as here at the Mont Terri rock laboratory in the Jura Mountains.»
Ann-Kathrin Leuz, Head of the Deep Geological Storage and Safety Analyses section
Two thirds of radioactive waste in Switzerland originates from nuclear power plants and one third from medicine, industry and research. Nuclear power plants therefore account for the predominant proportion of the radiotoxicity of Swiss waste. A lot of time elapses before the radioactivity of the waste wears off. As the generation benefiting from nuclear energy, we have an obligation to find and implement sustainable solutions for radioactive waste management.
ENSI specialists are concerned with the creation, treatment intermediate storage and deep of radioactive waste; they oversee the transport of radioactive materials and supervise the decommissioning of nuclear installations. On the implementation of the sectoral plan for deep geological facilities and the regular updating of the waste management programme required by law they evaluate the proposals submitted by Nagra from the point of view of technical safety.
Radioactive waste management is generally subject to the “polluter pays” principle. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) is in charge of the process for searching for deep geological sites. The proposals made for those who are responsible for the disposal of waste produced for possible sites are made by the National Cooperative for the of Radioactive Waste (Nagra). The specialists of ENSI’s Waste Management division evaluate the proposals made by Nagra from the point of view of technical safety. Their work is based on the legal foundation for the selection of sites for deep geological facilities. This legal foundation is particularly to be found in the Nuclear Energy Act, the Nuclear Energy Ordinance, in the technical safety criteria for site evaluation and in ENSI guidelines.