National Policies and Funding

Radioactive Waste Management Appendix 2

Updated April 2017

This is a compendium of radioactive waste management policies in different countries, and how they are funded. Policies change from time to time and the accounts detailed in individual country papers may be more up-to-date than within this document.


There are no civil nuclear power reactors in Australia. The HIFAR research reactor at Lucas Heights, near Sydney, was replaced in 2007 by the OPAL reactor on the same site, operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Australia's policy is to reprocess spent fuel from its research reactors, with the exception of US-origin fuel, which has all been returned to the USA. The waste arising from the reprocessing of the non-US spent fuel overseas will be returned to Australia for storage and, ultimately, disposed of as intermediate-level waste (ILW).

Disposal status

Since the late 1970s there has been an evolving process of site selection for a national radioactive waste repository for low-level waste (LLW) and short-lived ILW. This will be a shallow, engineered pit with multi-layered cover. A secure above-ground storage facility for long-lived ILW including that which will be returned to Australia following the reprocessing of ANSTO's research reactor used fuel will be co-located.

In May 2016 the South Australian government's royal commission on the nuclear fuel cycle reported. Its main recommendation was for an international high-level waste (HLW) repository in the state on a commercial basis, though this was not accepted. The government would "remain open to pursuing this opportunity for South Australia" eventually.

Waste management facilities

ANSTO has storage facilities onsite for its operational waste and for spent fuel. The Queensland State Government has a purpose-built, above-ground store at Esk, near Brisbane, for LLW and short- and long-lived ILW generated in Queensland. The Western Australian (WA) government operates a near-surface disposal facility for intractable waste generated in WA, including LLW and short-lived ILW, at Mount Walton East, about 480 km northeast of Perth.

Responsible agencies

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Regulator: Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

Responsibility for radioactive waste disposal: Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.


Half of Belgium's electricity production comes from its seven nuclear power reactors (about 5.9 GWe capacity). The country also has two research reactors operated by the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN).

Following the cessation of new reprocessing contracts by the government in 1994, the country has adopted a strategy of direct disposal.

Disposal status

Surface repository concepts considered for LLW; sites considered at existing nuclear facilities (Doel, Mol-Dessel and Tihange).

Deep geological disposal studies are underway for ILW and HLW/used fuel and are focused on the clays at Mol. In 1980, construction of the High Activty Disposal Experiment Site (HADES) undeground research laboratory 225 m deep in the Boom clay. No disposal site for HLW has been identified, but construction could begin about 2035.

In 2016 Synatom contracted with Germany’s Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH (GNS) to provide 30 CASTOR casks from 2021 for transport and storage of used fuel at Doel and Tihange.

Waste management facilities

LLW/ILW storage at Belgoprocess, Dessel, with cAt project (category A waste, i.e. low-level and short-lived intermediate-level waste) licensed for disposal from 2022.
Spent fuel stored onsite at the nuclear power plants.
Vitrified HLW from former reprocessing stored at Belgoprocess, Dessel.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK.CEN); Belgoprocess.

Regulator: Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Belgian Agency for Management of Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials (ONDRAF/NIRAS).


  • Payments are made into an internal fund managed by the utility.
  • Provisions are discounted, currently at a rate of 8.6%.
  • Utilities also pay a levy on each kWh of electricity sold, which goes into a decommissioning and waste management fund, managed by the fuel cycle company Synatom.


About 3% of Brazil’s electricity production comes from its two operating nuclear power reactors (about 1.9 GWe capacity). The country has a third reactor under construction. It has yet to decide on whether to adopt a policy of reprocessing or direct disposal.

Disposal status

Used fuel is stored. At present, it is not considered a waste.

LLW and ILW are stored onsite at Angra. Legislation in 2001 provides the framework for LLW and ILW repository site selection, construction and operation. A long-term solution for these is to be in place before Angra 3 is commissioned.

Waste management facilities

Temporary onsite facilities are at Angra.

Responsible agencies

The National Nuclear Energy Commission (Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear, CNEN) is responsible for the management and disposal of radioactive wastes.


About 33% of Bulgaria’s electricity production comes from its two operating nuclear power reactors (about 2.0 GWe capacity). It has yet to decide on whether to adopt a policy of reprocessing or direct disposal.

Disposal status

Under a 2002 agreement, Bulgaria was formerly paying Russia $ 620,000 per tonne for the repatriation of used nuclear fuel. The majority of fuel has been reprocessed in the Mayak plant at Ozersk, with the balance being sent to the Zheleznogorsk plant at Krasnoyarsk. Repatriation of used fuel has ceased.

There are no plans for HLW disposal.

Waste management facilities

Used fuel is initially stored in pools at each reactor. In 1990 a central pool-type storage facility was constructed at Kozloduy to take fuel from all the units. This was upgraded and a new licence issued in 2001.

A €49 million dry storage facility with a capacity of 5200 fuel assemblies in 72 casks was opened in May 2011 at Kozloduy, with finance from the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). It will hold the fuel from the four closed reactors. Later expansion to hold 8000 VVER-440 and 2500 VVER-1000 assemblies is envisaged.

The National Repository for Disposal of Radioactive Wastes (NRD RAW) is being built. It is to be a near-surface facility for LLW and ILW. Built in modules, it is envisaged that the facility will ultimately reach a capacity of 345,000 tonnes, accept waste for 60 years after it is opened, and store wastes for some 300 years. It is being paid for by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund. A LLW and ILW treatment and storage facility is also at Kozloduy.

Responsible agencies

State Enterprise Radioactive Waste (SE-RAW) is responsible for waste management.

Licensing is by the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA).


  • An electricity price levy, specified by the Bulgarian Council of Ministers, feeds two national funds – one for the safe disposal of radioactive waste, and another for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The Kozloduy nuclear plant pays 3% of the price of its power into the waste management fund and a further 7.5% into the decommissioning fund.


Over 15% of Canada's electricity production comes from its 19 operating nuclear power reactors (about 13.5 GWe capacity).

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was set up under the 2002 Nuclear Fuel Waste Act by the nuclear utilities Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick Power Corporation operating in conjunction with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL). Its mandate is to explore options for storage and disposal, to then make proposals to the government and to implement what is decided.

Disposal status and facilities

The nuclear utilities and AECL remain responsible for LLW and ILW, which are currently stored above ground.

Following a strong positive response to polling of local residents, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in 2005 proceeded with plans to construct a deep geologic repository for its LLW and ILW near the Bruce nuclear power plant. The repository will be 680 metres beneath its Western Waste Management Facility, which it has operated since 1974. In April 2011 OPG submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) its 12,500-page environmental assessment, which was approved in May 2015. A final ministerial decision is awaited. Financing for the repository project is provided from the decommissioning fund established under the Ontario Nuclear Funds Agreement. The NWMO will build and operate it for OPG.

In June 2007, the government selected the retrievable deep geological disposal option for used fuel and other HLW – referred to as adaptive phased management (APM) – recommended by the NWMO. The organization designed a siting process and commenced a technical and socio-economic assessment of potential candidate sites in late 2012. The focus has narrowed to two communities: the municipality of South Bruce, and the township of Huron-Kinloss in Bruce County, Ontario. The NWMO expects to have a repository operating by 2035.

Waste management facilities

The Western Waste Management Facility stores all the LLW and ILW from the operation of OPG's 20 nuclear reactors, including those leased to Bruce Power. In addition, the facility provides dry storage for used fuel from the Bruce reactors.
The Pickering Waste Management Facility provides dry storage for used fuel from the Pickering reactors. OPG is adding a second phase to the facility.
The Darlington Waste Management Facility provides dry storage for the Darlington reactors.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

Regulator for Federal facilities: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Natural Resources Canada.


About 3% of China’s electricity production comes from its 36 operating nuclear power reactors (about 26.0 GWe capacity). China has a long-term policy of fuel reprocessing.

Disposal status

Separated high-level wastes will be vitrified, encapsulated and put into a geological repository some 500 metres deep. Site selection and evaluation has been under way since 1986 and is focused on three candidate locations in the Beishan area of Gansu province and will be completed by 2020. All are in granite. An underground research laboratory will then be built by 2020 and operate for 20 years. The third step is to construct the final repository from 2040 and to carry out demonstration disposal. Acceptance of high-level wastes into a national repository is anticipated from 2050.

A commercial-scale Sino-French reprocessing plant is proposed, with a final contract envisaged in 2017, and construction from 2020, possibly including a MOX plant. Lianyungang city in Jiangsu was a possible location, close to the Tianwan power plant.

A used fuel storage facility with the capacity to hold 3000 tonnes of fuel initially, and possibly 6000 tonnes later is planned near the eventual reprocessing plant.

Industrial scale disposal of LLW and ILW takes place at two sites, with a further three planned (see below).

Waste management facilities

Most used fuel is stored at reactor sites, in ponds. The only dry storage operating is at Qinshan, and this is being expanded. Some used fuel is transported by road to the centralised used fuel storage facility at Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex, 25 km northeast of Lanzhou in central Gansu province.

A pilot reprocessing plant using the Purex process was constructed at Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex in Gansu province. It reprocessed about 50 tonnes of used fuel over 2013-15. A demonstration 200 t/yr used fuel treatment plant is being built in Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Longrui Technology Company.

Responsible agencies

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) is responsible for radioactive waste management (among other things).

The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) is responsible for project control and financial management.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) deals with implementation via four subsidiaries: Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG), China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), China Institute of Radiation Protection (CIRP), and CNNC China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation (CNPE).

The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) is the regulator.


  • There is a levy of CNY 2.6 cents/kWh on used fuel, use to pay for the management, reprocessing and eventual disposal of HLW.

Czech Republic

About 32% of the Czech Republic’s electricity production comes from its six operating nuclear power reactors (about 3.9 GWe capacity).

Disposal status

Used fuel is stored at each power plant. Two interim dry storage facilities are in operation at Dukovany, with an additional facility in operation at Temelin.

Eventual disposal of HLW and used fuel is the responsibility of the state organisation, the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA or SURAO). The government expects site selection to be completed by 2025, with repository construction beginning 25 years later.

The country has three operating repositories for LILW – Dukovany, Richard and Bratrstvi. The Dukovany facility is the largest of the three, with a 55,000m3 storage volume. The capacity is sufficient to store waste from both the Dujovany and Temelin plants, even with their operational lives extended to 40 years.

Responsible agencies

CEZ is responsible for storage and management of its used fuel until it is handed over to RAWRA/SURAO.


  • Under the Atomic Energy Act 2002, CEZ as nuclear plant operator is required to put aside funds for waste disposal, lodging these with the Czech National Bank. The rate is CZK 0.05 (€0.002)/kWh. The Act also requires that nuclear plants are decommissioned following the end of their operating lifetimes and CEZ is also progressively funding this. The adequacy of reserve funds for decommissioning is under the supervision of RAWRA/SURAO.
  • CEZ also funds an internal financial reserve for long-term used fuel storage.


About 30% of Finland’s electricity production comes from its four operating nuclear power reactors (about 2.7 GWe capacity). A fifth unit (1600 MWe capacity) is under construction, and another is planned. The country has a policy of direct disposal of used fuel.

Disposal status and facilities

Provisions for radioactive waste disposal are well advanced. Near-surface disposal (shallow repositories) for LLW and ILW has been in operation at Olkiluoto since 1992 and Loviisa since 1998.

Six sites for deep geological disposal of HLW/used fuel were considered between 1987 and 1999. Applications for a decision in principle and environmental impact assessment (EIA) were submitted by Posiva to government in May 1999. Government policy decision in December 2000 for deep geological disposal in Olkiluoto bedrock at Eurajoki.

Construction of the underground rock characterisation facility (ONKALO) began in 2004. ONKALO will be extended to the final disposal depth of about 400-450 metres. Research has been conducted there since the beginning of its construction.

Posiva applied for a construction licence for the final repository for 9000 tonnes of used fuel from Olkiluoto and Loviisa and the encapsulation plant in December 2012. The operating licence application is expected in 2020, with a view to operation from 2023. Posiva claims that it will have no space in the planned repository for fuel from Fennovoima’s planned Hanhikivi reactor in the north.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Fortum Power and Heat Oy and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) are responsible for interim storage of used fuel and for the conditioning and disposal of operating LLW and ILW at the Loviisa (Fortum) and Olkiluoto (TVO) nuclear power plants. Posiva Oy, which is owned by TVO (60%) and Fortum (40%), is responsible for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel of the owners.

Regulator: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM)


  • The nuclear utilities make payments into an external national nuclear waste management fund, managed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
  • Provisions are not discounted.
  • Contributions to the fund are made over the first 25 years of plant operation.
  • The nuclear utilities are entitled to borrow up to 75% of the fund with the government able to borrow the remainder.


About 75% of France’s electricity production comes from its 58 operating nuclear power reactors (about 63.2 GWe capacity). The country has a policy of reprocessing used fuel.

The management of radioactive waste in France is governed by the 2006 Nuclear Materials and Waste Management Program Act which established deep geological disposal as the reference solution for long-lived HLW (with retrievability for at least 100 years). It requires the updating every three years of the National Plan for the Management of Radioactive Materials and Waste.

Disposal status and facilities

Most short-lived LLW and ILW is sent for final disposal to the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency's (ANDRA's) surface waste repository. The Centre de l’Aube short-lived LLW and ILW repository in Soulaines-Dhuys (Aube department) was licensed in September 1989 and took over from the Manche repository In 1992.

The Manche waste repository next to La Hague received 527,000 m3 of these wastes from 1969 to 1994, and is now capped with a multi-layer grassed cover. It entered the surveillance phase in January 2003.

In addition, the Centre de Morvilliers (near the Centre de l’Aube), a dedicated facility for very low-level waste (VLLW, average activity should be under 10 Bq/g), has been in service since August 2003.

For wastes contaminated with radium and of graphite wastes (i.e. LLW that is long-lived) a store is being built at the Morvilliers VLLW site pending progress with a disposal centre.

In 1999 ANDRA was authorised to build an underground research laboratory in clay at Bure to prepare for disposal of vitrified HLW and long-lived ILW. In 2012 plans for the Industrial Centre for Geological Disposal (CIGEO) deep repository at Bure were endorsed by the Commission Nationale d'Evaluation (CNE). ANDRA expects to apply for a construction and operating licence for CIGEO in 2018, with construction due to start 2020. It is expected to operate from 2025. Two further repositories are envisaged.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Agence Nationale pour la gestion des Dechets Radioactifs, ANDRA).

Regulator for federal facilities: French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Ministry of Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, (Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Énergie et de la Mer).

Commission Nationale d'Evaluation (CNE).


  • EDF sets aside 0.14 cents/kWh for waste management and decommissioning costs.
  • At the end of 2016 the provision for wastes amounted to €19.6 billion and that for decommissioning €16.4 billion.
  • EDF estimates that the total cost (from 2035) will be €75 billion.


About 14% of Germany’s electricity production comes from its eight operating nuclear power reactors (about 10.8 GWe capacity). The country has a nuclear phaseout policy in place. If it is not reversed, all nuclear power stations will be closed by around 2022.

The utilities are responsible for interim storage of spent fuel, and have formed joint companies to build and operate offsite surface facilities at Ahaus and Gorleben. However, current policy is for interim storage at reactor sites. Final disposal is the responsibility of the federal government.

Separated HLW from past reprocessing in France and the UK are expected to be returned to Germany by 2022 and stored. A total of 166 large casks of glass canisters will be involved, and following the last shipment from La Hague in November 2011, 50 of these are now in storage at Gorleben. Each holds 28 tonnes of vitrified HLW.

Disposal status and facilities

The Morsleben repository for radioactive waste was used for the disposal of LLW and ILW in the former German Democratic Republic from 1971 to 1991 and later on from 1994 to 1998. The installation is now being decommissioned.

The former iron ore mine Konrad in Salzgitter has been investigated since 1975 as a possible repository for radioactive waste with negligible heat generation. A construction licence was issued in January 2008 for it to initially take some 300,000 cubic metres of waste. The August 2015 program did not seek an extension to the Konrad repository licence as originally proposed due to local opposition. Another repository would need to accommodate all intermediate and LLW produced by 2022.

The Asse salt mine repository received wastes from 1967 to 1978, and is now closed. It is in poor condition and is seen to represent a failure of proper licensing process. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS) decided in 2010 that the waste should be moved from it. The 126,000 drums of waste are likely to be moved to Konrad.

The salt dome at Gorleben was to be the location for a national centre for disposal of radioactive waste. It is now considered a possible site for geological disposal of HLW. A pilot conditioning plant is there. The site could be available as a final repository from 2025, with a decision to be made about 2019. Research over 1979 to 2000 established the suitability of the site and the investment in it from the power utilities now stands at about €1.6 billion.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS), a division of the regulator, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, BMUB).

Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service (GNS) is responsible for all operations regarding the transport and disposal of waste in Germany, at nine sites.


  • In December 2016, the Bundestag voted to create a €23.6 billion state-owned fund to pay for the interim storage and disposal of all nuclear wastes.
  • The four nuclear utilities will provide the funding, after which they will have no further responsibility.
  • The total fund size includes a risk premium of 35% on top of estimated costs.


About 2-3% of India’s electricity production comes from its 22 operating nuclear power reactors (about 7.0 GWe capacity). The country has a policy of reprocessing used fuel.

Disposal status and facilities

Wastes from reactors and processing plants are treated onsite. Waste immobilisation plants (WIPs) are in operation at Tarapur and Trombay and another vitrification plant was commissioned by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 2013 at Kalpakkam for wastes from reprocessing Madras (MAPS) used fuel. The WIPs use borosilicate glass, as in Europe.

Research is underway at BARC into the siting and design for final disposal of HLW and long-lived wastes.

Responsible agencies

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the regulator for radioactive waste management in India. The Board reports to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), a government entity. The arrangement has been criticized by the IAEA, which recommends that all regulators are independent and separate from governmental bodies.


Up to 2011, Japan's nuclear power reactors accounted for some 30% of electricity produced in the country. There are currently 42 operable power reactors with a total capacity of approximately 44 GWe. The country has a policy of reprocessing and a large reprocessing complex at Rokkasho-Mura, Aomori prefecture is being commissioned.

Disposal status and facilities

A large LLW disposal centre at the Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd (JNFL) site in Rokkasho-Mura, Aomori prefecture, has been operational since 1992. JNFL is a private venture led by ten domestic electric power companies.

In 2000, the Japanese Diet passed the Law on Final Disposal of Specified Radioactive Waste (the 'Final Disposal Law') which mandates deep geological disposal of HLW (defined as only vitrified waste from reprocessing spent reactor fuel). In line with this, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) was set up by the private sector to progress plans for disposal. An open solicitation for candidate sites is in progress, with site selection envisaged between 2023 and 2027.

Used fuel storage occurs onsite at all nuclear power plants. An offsite interim storage facility, the Recyclable Fuel Storage Center (RFC), for used fuel from Tepco and Japco plants was due to commence operations in 2013 at Mutsu, Aomori prefecture, but has been delayed.

JNFL operates a storage facility at Rokkasho-Mura for vitrified HLW which has been returned from Europe after Japanese used fuel has been reprocessed there.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO).

Regulator: Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) under the Environment Ministry.

Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).


  • In May 2016 parliament passed a bill aimed at "taking measures necessary for the steady implementation of the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel" and MOX fuel fabrication, to go into effect within six months, amending a 2005 law on funding these activities. The bill creates a new entity responsible for reprocessing, the Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan, which will collect funds and contract out reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication to JNFL. It requires Japan's nuclear utilities to pay annual contributions to the SFRO to cover the expected cost for reprocessing of all spent fuel they produce in the previous fiscal year, and for turning all of the resulting separated plutonium into MOX fuel. The contributions will be based on the amount of the electricity generated. This is in place of the former ‘deposit system’ which was restricted to the Rokkasho plant.
  • Prior to the new system taking effect, Japan's ten power companies deposited fees for future reprocessing at Rokkasho with the Radioactive Waste Management Funding Research Centre (RWMC). The fee was JPY0.5 (0.4 US cents) per kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity generated, supervised by METI's energy arm, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE). ANRE reported that the fee deposits at RWMC amounted to JPY 2.4 trillion ($21 billion) as of March 2015.


About 4% of the Netherlands' electricity production comes from its single Borssele reactor (about 0.5 GWe capacity).

The country has a policy of reprocessing used fuel and long-term storage (100 years) of all radioactive waste.

Disposal status

In 1984 the Dutch government decided on a policy of long-term (100 years) interim storage of all the country's radioactive waste; and a research strategy for its ultimate disposal.

This lef to the establishment of the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (COVRA), based at Borssele, close to the nuclear power station.

Used nuclear fuel from Borssele and the shutdown Dodewaard nuclear plant is reprocessed in France (and formerly in the UK). The waste arising from reprocessing is sent to COVRA for long-term storage.

Waste management facilities

Storage facilities for all radioactive waste originating in the Netherlands are located at COVRA in Zeeland, near the Borssele power plant. A low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (LILW) management centre was commissioned in 1992. The HABOG interim dry HLW storage facility at COVRA opened in 2003 with two sections, for ILW and for vitrified HLW.

Responsible agencies

Implementer and agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (COVRA).

Regulator: in 2014 the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (Autoriteit Nucleaire Veiligheid en Stralingsbescherming, ANVS) was set up as an independent administrative authority under the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment.


About 17% of Russia’s electricity production comes from its 35 operating nuclear power reactors (about 26.1 GWe capacity).

Disposal status and facilities

In 2008 the Nizhnekansky Rock Mass in Krasnoyarsk Territory was put forward as a site for a national deep geological repository. Rosatom has said that phase one of the facility is to be designed to hold 20,000 tonnes of ILW and HLW, which will be retrievable. Public hearings on the Nizhnekansky granite were held in July 2012. The Nizhnekansky Granite Massif was identified in the November 2013 Regional Energy Planning Scheme as a planned repository site. In August 2016 the Territorial Planning Scheme to 2030 confirmed the site and approved construction of repository facilities there for 4500m3 net of class 1 waste and 155,000m3 net of class 2 waste.

Russia's national operator for radioactive waste management (NO RAO) aims to build, by 2024, an underground research laboratory to study the possibility of final disposal of HLW in the Nizhnekansky Granite Massif in Krasnoyarsk. A final decision on an HLW repository is expected by 2025.

Radon has been the organisation responsible for medical and LILW industrial radioactive wastes. It has had 16 storage sites for wastes up to intermediate level. Not far outside Moscow, the major Radon facility has both laboratories and disposal sites.

In August 2016 the Territorial Planning Scheme to 2030 approved construction of near-surface repository facilities for 100,000 m3 LILW at Ozersk in Chelyabinsk region for Mayak, for 200,000 m3  LILW at Tomsk (for the Siberian Chemical Combine), for 48,000 m3 LILW from Urals Electrochemical Combine at Novouralsk, and for 50,000 m3 LILW at Sosnovy Bor in the Leningrad oblast.

Russia has also for many years used deep-well injection for LILW from some facilities, notably Seversk, Zheleznogorsk and Dimitrovgrad.

Responsible agencies

Rosatom and the National Operator for Radioactive Waste Management (FSUE NO RAO) are responsible for coordination and execution of works associated with radwaste management, notably its disposal.

NO RAO is a federal-state unitary enterprise set up in March 2012 as the national manager of Russia's used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, including its disposal. It is the national operator for handling all nuclear waste materials and the single organisation authorised to carry out final disposal of radioactive waste. Its functions and tariffs are set by the government, notably the Ministry of Natural Resources. Its branches are at Zheleznogorsk in Krasnoyarsk, Seversk in Tomsk, Dimitrovgrad in Ulyanovsk and Novouralsk in Sverdlovsk.


  • In November 2015 the government approved Rosatom’s second federal target programme (FTP NRS-2) for nuclear and radiation safety for 2016 to 2030.
  • About 73% of the new FTP budget of RUR 562 billion will be for decommissioning commercial reactors, and the withdrawal of buildings and facilities at Mayak Production Association, Siberian Chemical Combine, Angarsk Electrolysis and Chemical Complex and Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant – facilities once involved in state defence programs. Nearly 20% of the funding will go on creating the infrastructure required for the processing and final disposal of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste; 5% on monitoring and ensuring nuclear and radiation safety; and 2% on scientific and technological support.
  • About 70% of the budget is from federal funds, much of the rest from Rosatom. It will be implemented in three 5-year stages, and involves the transition to new used fuel recycling technologies to close the fuel cycle, establishing a final HLW repository, decommissioning of 82 nuclear and radiation hazardous facilities, two nuclear icebreakers and other tasks.


About 20% of Spain's electricity production comes from its seven operating nuclear power reactors (about 7.4 GWe capacity).

In 1984 the state-owned Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos SA (Enresa) was established to take responsibility for radioactive waste management and decommissioning of nuclear plants in the country and is now the only state-owned part of the nuclear industry.

Disposal status

Some used fuel has been reprocessed abroad, but further reprocessing was cancelled in 1983 and since then used fuel has been stored at the nuclear plants where it arises.

In mid-2006 parliament approved Enresa's plans to develop a temporary central nuclear waste storage facility, and the safety authority approved its design, which was similar to the Habog facility in the Netherlands. In 2009 the government called for municipalities to volunteer to host this €700 million Almacén Temporal Centralizado (ATC) facility for HLW and used fuel. In December 2011 the Ministry announced that Villar de Canas in Cuenca had been selected as the site, and a 60-year storage period was mentioned. Research continues on deep geological disposal, and also transmutation of long-lived radionuclides.

Waste management facilities

The El Cabril LLW and ILW near-surface disposal facility has been in operation in Córdoba since 1961. Its capacity is sufficient to last up to around 2020. In July 2016 Enresa was given approval by the Nuclear Safety Council to operate the new VLLW disposal facility there, which has a storage capacity of over 17,000 m3.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: National Agency for Radioactive Waste (Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radioactivos, S.A., Enresa).

Regulator for Federal facilities: Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, CSN).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Ministry of Finance and Civil Service (Ministerio de Hacienda y Función Pública); Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente).


  • Responsibility for decommissioning and waste management rests with the state-owned company Enresa.
  • Enresa manages a fund which is provisioned by a €3/MWh levy on electricity sales.
  • Provisions are discounted at a rate of 2.5%.


About 40% of Sweden’s electricity production comes from its nine operating nuclear power reactors (about 8.8 GWe capacity).

The country's radioactive waste policy is for direct disposal of used fuel in crystalline bedrock.

Disposal status and facilities

Nuclear generators are responsible for the costs of managing and disposing of spent fuel. The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB, SKB) was set up by the generators to manage and dispose of radioactive wastes following the Waste Legisliation (Stipulation Act) in 1977.

Short-lived LLW and ILW is disposed of in the SFR final repository, located 50 metres beneath the Baltic Sea adjacent to the Forsmark nuclear plant. Brought into operation in 1988, SFR contains four under­ground caverns and one silo.

Used fuel is transferred from reactor storage to a central interim storage facility (CLAB) near the Oskarshamn nuclear plant after about a year. CLAB has operated since 1985, and the used fuel is stored under water in an underground rock cavern for some 40-50 years. It will then be encapsulated in copper canisters with cast iron internal structure for final emplacement packed with bentonite clay in a 500 metre deep repository in granite. In mid-2015 about 6,000 tonnes of used fuel was at CLAB.

Research at the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory 500 metres deep in wet granite nearby identified geological characteristics for this final deep repository. Site selection procedures from 2002 resulted in selection of Östhammar near Forsmark as the site for the final repository. SKB applied for a licence to construct the repository in March 2011, and planned to begin site works in 2013. In June and November 2015 SSM responded with preliminary findings that the plan should meet all its safety and radiation protection requirements, both in operation and following closure. SSM will deliver its comprehensive final assessment of the application to the government in 2017 after further safety analysis by SKB, in collaboration with Finland where the concept has been approved.

The repository will have 12,000 tonnes capacity at 500 metres depth in 1.9 billion year-old granite. A 5 km ramp will connect to an eventual 60 km of tunnels over 4 sq km, housing 6000 copper-cast iron canisters containing the used fuel. Each 25-tonne canister will hold 2 tonnes of used fuel. Bentonite clay would surround each canister to adsorb any leakage. The repository concept is known as KBS-3.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB).

Regulator: In 2008 the National Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) and the Swedish Radiation Protection Institute (SSI) were merged to form a joint authority, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, SSM).

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Ministry of the Environment. An independent committee attached to the ministry, the Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste (Kärnavfallsrådet), was established in 1985. The Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste was previously known as KASAM.


  • The nuclear utilities make payments into the Swedish Nuclear Waste Fund (Kärnavfallsfonden). A separate fund exists for each utility.
  • Provisions are calculated on the basis of a 4% discount rate until 2020 and 2.5% thereafter.
  • Contributions to the funds are made during the first 25 years of operation and are based on a levy on nuclear electricity production.
  • In October 2014 SSM recommended that the fee be increased to SEK 0.04/kWh (€0.436 cents), since it thought SKB had underestimated the cost of decommissioning and building the repository by at least SEK 11 billion. The government confirmed the new fee level for 2015-17 in December 2014. SKB estimates the decommissioning and repository costs at about SEK 78 billion.


About 40% of Switzerland’s electricity production comes from its five operating nuclear power reactors (about 3.2 GWe capacity).

The Swiss Federal Nuclear Energy Act stipulates that radioactive waste must be disposed of in Switzerland in a deep geological repository. In 1972 a national co-operative for disposal of radioactive wastes (NAGRA) was set up, involving power plant operators and the federal government. There is no national policy regarding reprocessing or direct disposal of used fuel, but in 2006 a ten-year suspension of reprocessing was ordered.

Disposal status

Zwilag is a waste company owned by four Swiss nuclear utilities. Used fuel is now retained at the reactors or sent to the Zwilag central storage facility (Zentrales Zwischenlager, ZZL) in Würenlingen for interim above-ground, dry cask storage, being managed as HLW. The Zwilag site also has facilities for incineration (in a high temperature plasma oven), conditioning and storage of LLW and ILW.

The Federal Council has accepted NAGRA’s plan for a deep geological repository for HLW and long-lived ILW, and site selection in three stages has been underway since 2008.

In 2012 the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) undertook a three-month consultation on NAGRA’s 2008 repository plans considering six possible regions. NAGRA pursued investigation of these in 2014 in line with the requirements specified by the Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), and two were shortlisted in January 2015: in Jura Ost and Zurich Nordost. Each could accommodate both HLW and LILW repositories.

Four sites of the original six were in reserve until December 2016 when Nördlich Lägern between the two others was added to the shortlist by ENSI after NAGRA had revived consideration of it. NAGRA had said in 2015: “The siting regions were evaluated and compared in a stepwise process, taking into consideration only scientific and technical criteria; societal and political aspects are not relevant in this respect."

The third phase of the process will focus on these three regions, with ENSI completing a detailed review of the reports and analyses submitted by NAGRA, and a decision by the Federal Council is expected in 2018. A final decision by the government is expected by 2027.

Waste management facilities

Zwilag commenced operation as a central interim dry cask storage facility for high-level wastes in 2001 at Würenlingen. It also accepts other radioactive wastes. Two smaller interim storage sites for low- and intermediate-level wastes have been operating since 1993: the Federal Intermediate Storage Facility (BZL) associated with the Paul Scherrer Institute at Würenlingen, and Zwibez at Beznau, which also has a storage hall for dry cask storage of spent fuel and HLW. Wastes from medicine, industry and research go to BZL for sorting, conditioning and storage.

All four Swiss nuclear power plants have onsite waste treatment and conditioning facilities as well as stores for low- and intermediate-level operational waste.

After removal from the reactor, the used fuel elements are stored for five to ten years at the sites, and may then be sent to ZZL for interim storage.

There are two rock laboratories in Swizerland. Nagra has its own rock laboratory – the Grimsel Test Site – on the Grimsel pass in the Canton of Bern and is involved in the program at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory in the Jura Canton; the latter is managed by the federal government (Federal Office of Topography).

Responsible agencies

Implementer: National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nationale Genossenschaft für die Lagerung radioaktiver AbfälleNagra).

Regulator: Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (Eidgenössisches Nuklearsicherheitsinspektorat, ENSI). ENSI was created under legislation adopted in 2007.

Agency with responsibility for radioactive waste management: Swiss Federal Office for Energy (Bundesamt für Energie, BFE).


  • The nuclear utilities make payments into two funds (decommissioning and waste management respectively), which are independent legal entities administrated by a management commission appointed by the federal government.
  • The cost estimates and annual contributions are periodically updated for both funds.
  • The costs are allocated on the basis of the reactor power and are made at the end of each year of the planned 40-year lifetime of each reactor.
  • Provisions are discounted.
  • Both programs are funded under the Nuclear Energy Act by a levy of about CHF 1 cent/kWh on nuclear power production. The government proposed a sharp rise in the contributions to both funds from mid-2014, though a 2011 review of the funding showed that liabilities would be fully covered.


About 50% of the Ukraine’s electricity production comes from its 15 operating nuclear power reactors (about 13.8 GWe capacity). The country has had a policy of direct disposal.

Disposal status and facilities

Storage of used fuel for 50 years before disposal is the current policy, with the possibility of closing the fuel cycle remaining under consideration.

Used fuel is mainly stored onsite. VVER-440 fuel has, in the past, been shipped to Russia for reprocessing under a 1993 arrangement. A long-term dry storage facility for spent fuel has been in operation at Zaporozhe since 2001. However significant volumes of VVER-1000 spent fuel are sent to Russia for storage each year at a cost to Ukraine of over $100 million per year.

Preliminary investigations have shortlisted sites for a deep geological repository for ILW and HLW, including all those arising from the clean-up of the Chernobyl site.

Responsible agencies

The regulator is the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRI/SNRC).

United Kingdom

About 21% of the UK's electricity production comes from its 15 operating nuclear power reactors (about 9.5 GWe capacity).

The country has had a policy of reprocessing, but is unlikely to reprocess all the used fuel from its AGR reactors and the PWR at Sizewell B.

In April 2005 the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) formally took ownership of UK nuclear liabilities. The role of Nirex (originally known as the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive) was transferred to the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate of the NDA in 2007.

Disposal status and facilities

The NDA has set up the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) to develop plans for a deep geological repository for ILW and HLW, and evolve into the entity that builds and operates it. The government has invited communities to volunteer to host this geological disposal facility (GDF), which will accommodate waste from new build as well as legacy wastes. The next steps are to carry out: a four-year geological study; surface research lasting ten years; and finally a 15-year period of underground research, construction and commissioning. In these steps the NDA will seek to find an 11-year saving to enable operation from 2029.

In 2015, the government designated the development of a GDF and deep boreholes as nationally significant infrastructure projects, under the Planning Act 2008, in England. This will expedite planning and permitting after plans were stalled in early 2013 when Cumbria County Council voted to halt the project.

Near-surface disposal of solid LLW takes place in engineered vaults at Drigg in Cumbria, which have been operational since 1959.

Intermediate-level waste is stored at Sellafield and other licensed source sites, pending disposal. A new store at Harwell, Oxfordshire, for 2500 m3 of decommissiong wastes is planned.

HLW arising from reprocessing is vitrified and stored at Sellafield, in stainless steel canisters in silos. A new type of cask was developed for Sizewell, and the first one was placed in the new building in March 2017. All HLW is to be stored for 50 years before disposal, to allow cooling.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Regulators: Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) – established in April 2014 and replacing the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Directorate (formerly known as the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate); Environment Agency (EA); Scottish

Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).


  • A mix of arrangements exist in the UK.
  • The Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF) was established to cover the long-term decommissioning liabilities for the AGR power stations and the Sizewell B PWR.
  • The government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is responsible for the long-term management of the country's historic and committed nuclear liabilities. Its operations are funded by the government, but a proportion of funding is offset by revenue from the NDA's commercial activities.

United States of America

About 20% of the USA’s electricity production comes from its 100 operating nuclear power reactors (about 100 GWe capacity). The USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power.

US policy since 1977 has been to forbid reprocessing of used fuel and to treat it all as HLW, which the government is responsible for finally disposing of in a geological repository.

Disposal status and facilities

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 stipulated that the US Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for disposing of HLW/used fuel, with disposal from 1998. In December 1987, the Act was amended to designate the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada a permanent repository. In 2002, the US Senate approved the development of the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. However, following the 2009 presidential elections, the Obama administration attempted to abort the Yucca Mountain project, and a high-level 'Blue Ribbon' commission was appointed to come up with alternative proposals.

Delays in implementing a repository meant that utilities could not be relieved of their used fuel as legislated, so damages have been awarded to meet some of the costs of supplementary dry cask storage at reactor sites. About $1.2 billion had been paid to utilities by the end of 2012.

Under new standard contracts with the DOE, proponents of new reactor construction must undertake to store used fuel onsite indefinitely, so that the DOE does not become liable for delays. The contracts specify that the DOE will begin removing used fuel within 20 years of the first refuelling. As of January 2009, 19 such contracts had been signed under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC’s) Waste Confidence Rule. They are a prerequisite for new reactor licensing and for licence renewals, and reflect the degree to which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is confident that used fuel from US power reactors can be safely managed.

The Blue Ribbon Commission's report to Congress in January 2012 recommended the development of centralized interim storage, establishing a new organization outside the DOE to manage the US used fuel program. In January 2013 the DOE announced a new approach based on the report, including setting up a new organization to manage the siting, development and operation of the future waste stores. It envisaged a 'pilot interim store' being in operation in 2021, with a priority on taking used nuclear fuel from current shutdown power plant sites. By 2025 a larger 'full-scale interim store' would open, and by 2048 an underground disposal facility should be in place to permanently store and dispose of the material. However, the mandate for the new organization would exclude reprocessing of used fuel.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) repository for defence-related transuranic wastes, located underground in a salt formation in Carlsbad, New Mexico began disposal operations in 1999.

For LLW, disposal facilities operate at: Barnwell, South Carolina – operated by EnergySolutions; Richland, Washington – operated by American Ecology Corporation (formerly U.S. Ecology); Clive, Utah – operated by EnergySolutions; Oak Ridge, Tennessee – operated by EnergySolutions; and the Texas Compact Facility.

Responsible agencies

Implementer: DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management – closed in 2010 and activities assumed by the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy.

Regulators: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


  • Utilities paid a 0.1 cent/kWh into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF).
  • By the end of 2016, utilities had contributed over $21.2 billion into the NWF, which attracts interest at about $1 billion per year.
  • From it there have been some $7 billion as funding disbursements for the Yucca Mountain program.
  • The fund received over $750 million in fees each year.
  • In November 2013 a federal appeals court unanimously ruled that the DOE should cease collecting the fees from utilities. The DOE stopped collecting the waste fees in May 2014.
  • As of the end of September 2016, the NWF had a value of $46.0 billion.


Related information

You may also be interested in