The General Directorate of Quality & Environmental Assessment at Spain’s Ministry for the Ecological Transition & Demographic Challenge (Miteco) has issued an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project to construct the southeast platform of the definitive storage for low- and medium-level waste at the El Cabril central storage facility in Hornachuelos, Córdoba province.

In June 2022, Spain’s decommissioning and waste management company Enresa, in compliance with the 6th General Radioactive Waste Plan, submitted to the Miteco and the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) the documentation needed start the procedures to request the construction of new storage cells at El Cabril. The EIS is a preliminary step towards obtaining favourable opinion from CSN and construction authorisation from Miteco.

Construction of the southeast platform at El Cabril will provide, in the first phase, 12 new cells for low and medium activity waste. Another 15 cells in the second phase will provide the facility with sufficient capacity to manage all waste of this type according to the inventory provided for in the seventh General Plan for Radioactive Waste (PGRR), which was approve in 2023. This plan, approval of which was delayed for some years, is essential to support Spain’s nuclear phase out plans. Spain intends to close its five operating plants starting in 2027 with a completion date of 2035.

El Cabril was granted an operating permit by the Ministry of Economy in 2001 enabling it to store low- and medium-level radioactive waste. A resolution from the Directorate General for Energy Policy and Mines in 2008 authorised modifications to include disposal cells specifically designed to store very low-level radioactive waste, while setting new limits and conditions for nuclear safety and radiological protection associated with the operating permit.

In the facility, the low- and medium-level radioactive waste generated by nuclear and radioactive facilities throughout Spain is received, handled, conditioned and finally stored in cells. The waste is placed in concrete matrixes within drums that are then placed in concrete containers and immobilised with concrete. The containers are placed in 28 disposal cells located on two platforms. Once these cells reach full capacity, they will be covered with layers of soil and clay to isolate them from the biosphere and integrate them into the landscape.

Image: Panoramic view of the El Cabril central storage facility in Hornachuelos, Córdoba province