ONDRAF/NIRAS, the Belgian waste management organization, has launched a national public consultation on a policy proposal (as per Directive 2011/70/Euratom) for the long-term management geological disposal of high-level and long-lived waste. The proposed policy includes geological disposal of these waste on the Belgian territory.
In accordance with article 14, § 1, of the law of 13 February 2006 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programs on the environment and on public participation in the preparation of plans and programs relating to the environment, the public will be consulted from April 15, 2020 to June 13, 2020 on the ONDRAF draft plan for the long-term management of high-level and / or long-lived waste and on the on the related environmental impacts assessment report .
ONDRAF's draft plan is established in the form of a proposal for a National Policy, as defined in article 179, paragraph 6 of the law of 8 August 1980, which is considered to be a plan and program within the meaning of the aforementioned law of February 13, 2006.
Public consultation relates to the draft plan and the accompanying environmental impact report, including its non-technical summary.
During the consultation, the draft plan, the environmental impact report and a non-technical summary of the latter report will be available in German, French and Dutch on the ONDRAF website www.niras.be/ sea2020 or www.ondraf.be/sea2020.
Why so early and at a strategic level?
In Belgium, no decision has yet been made on the final destination of high-level and / or long-lived waste. The environmental impact assessment therefore relates to the very first decisional step, namely what Belgium intends to do with this waste. The first decisional step is the choice of geological disposal of this waste on Belgian territory. There are still no concrete plans as to where, how and when to do so.
As the site, method of implementation and timetable are not yet known, the description and assessment of the magnitude of the environmental impact must be carried out at a general level. More detailed and comprehensive assessments of the potential environmental impacts will only take place in the following stages of the stepwise process for implementing the decision. Each stage will also be accompanied by public consultation.
While it is unusual to submit a draft plan to an environmental impact assessment and public consultation at such an early stage, this step is logical and consistent with the unique decision-making process for storage high-level and / or long-lived waste.
The knowledge presented in the available documents is the result of more than four decades of research and development, both in Belgium and abroad. In addition to the environmental implications and the safety conditions, ethical, economic and societal aspects were also taken into account. This carefully accumulated knowledge allows a strategic evaluation of the draft plan and the alternatives.
A transparent procedure and the associated public consultation also make it possible to combine societal and technical processes. This is an important first step in creating a social base for a final destination.