Promoting uptake of measurements to support safe and effective management of radioactive waste
The EU Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM requires European nuclear facilities to be safely decommissioned without placing undue burdens on future generations. Over 90 nuclear power plants in Europe have reached this point in their lifecycles, and by 2030 another 120 reactors, plus fuel cycle facilities, will be due for safe site clearance. The total cost is likely to be over 150 billion Euros. Decommissioning involves selecting wastes for either long-term storage or ‘free release’ into the environment, based on reliable measurements. However, the nuclear industry cannot currently fully comply with regulations as existing measurement methods are insufficiently sensitive or accurate, and are not nuclide-specific.
The MetroDecom II project developed and constructed a pre-selection and free release facility, incorporating waste evaluation calibration software and a calibration facility. The waste measurement method was tested, optimised and calibrated for three basic types of waste and adopted by Czech engineering company NUVIA. However, investment in hardware and software development will be needed to serve the diverse needs of nuclear facility operators, and new technologies will also need to be demonstrated in-situ.
The project will promote the uptake of technologies developed in MetroDecom II to enable reliable pre-selection and free release measurements across the nuclear-decommissioning industry. Documentation will be developed to support the commercialisation of NUVIA’s measurement hardware and calibration software, and advice provided on how to operate demonstrators. Adoption by end-users of these more advanced methods will facilitate effective and cheaper decommissioning processes, to better protect people and the environment from risks arising from radioactive waste.