No more room at Belgium’s nuclear waste storage bunkers

In its annual report, the state-owned company responsible for the processing and storage of nuclear waste Belgoprocess warns that capacity for the storage of low-level nuclear waste in Belgium is all but exhausted. The contents of Belgoprocess’ annual report form the basis for an article in Saturday’s edition of the financial daily ‘De Tijd’.

The storage bunker at Dessel (Antwerp province) currently contains 50,000 barrels of low-level nuclear waste and as such is as good as completely full.

Belgoprocess’ spokesman Bart Thieren told journalists that “The shortage of space is quite acute. If no extra space is created in the coming years there will be no more room”.

Within the next few months Belgoprocess will start work on the construction of an annex to the storage facility with capacity for another 5,000 barrels of nuclear waste at a cost of 7 million euro. The new annex should be ready to enter service by the end of next year. In the meantime alternatives must be found to store low-level nuclear waste.

"This includes for example protective clothing that could possibly be contaminated or industrial material. In some cases this radioactive waste can remain dangerous for up to 300 years”, Mr Thieren added.

The new bunker annex that will be ready late next year should offer enough extra capacity to see us through until a new permanent storage facility has been constructed. This should have opened in 2017. However, the nuclear safety watchdog FANC had numerous objections to the plans and the necessary permits for the construction of the bunker have as yet not been forthcoming.

A new request for permission to build the bunker was submitted at the start of this year. If everything goes to plan the new storage facility should open sometime in 2024.

Top stories