IAEA mission finds progress in waste management in Denmark

17 May 2022

Flag of DenmarkThe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed that an Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) team of experts had visited Denmark from 1-9 May at the request of the government. The mission concluded that Denmark has developed and implemented a robust and well-functioning system for maintaining and further enhancing the safety and effectiveness of used fuel and radioactive waste management.  However, the team also noted that the national programme for the management of radioactive waste should be further developed and its implementation requires significant efforts.

Denmark has no NPPs but manages waste from the ongoing decommissioning of six nuclear facilities at Risø, including three research reactors, a hot cells facility, a fuel fabrication plant, and a waste treatment plant. The decommissioning waste is treated and stored by Danish Decommissioning, a state-owned company, which also manages radioactive waste from the previous operation of the facilities and the use of radiation sources in medicine, industry, and research in Denmark.

Denmark will build a new facility at the Risø site — scheduled to be operational in 2025 — for the storage of radioactive waste. The possibilities for deep geological disposal at a depth of 500 metres below surface are being considered, with the goal to transfer stored waste to the disposal facility at the latest by 2073.

During this visit, the mission team conducted interviews with representatives of the Danish Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the Danish Emergency Management Agency, the Danish Health Authority, Radiation Protection, and Danish Decommissioning.

“With the progress of the decommissioning activities, the approaching challenges in waste management are already in view for Danish Decommissioning,” said ARTEMIS team leader Stefan Theis, Deputy Director of Waste Management Department of the Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (ENSI) in Switzerland. “We are confident that they will manage the upcoming transformation phase successfully and adjust their competences as needed.”

The ARTEMIS review team comprised four experts from Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Switzerland, supported by three IAEA staff members. The draft report prepared by the team contains recommendations and suggestions including:

  • The government should update the National Programme for the management of all types of radioactive waste to include appropriate interim targets and end states for the monitoring of the programme’s implementation.
  • The government should establish a compliance assurance procedure for the implementation of the national programme.
  • The implementer for the planned new disposal facility should develop generic waste acceptance criteria for disposal and, as soon as a facility specific safety case is available, final waste acceptance criteria on the basis of regulatory body requirements.

“Denmark has implemented a coherent national policy for waste management and takes considerable efforts to ensure its implementation in line with IAEA safety standards,” said Peter Johnston, Director of the IAEA's Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, at the exit meeting of the mission. 

Kristoffer Brix Bertelsen, Senior Adviser from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, said: “We consider the recommendations and suggestions of the mission as very useful inputs to the continuing development of Denmark’s national programme in this field, in particular the planning to achieve programme targets.” The final mission report will be provided to the Government in about two months.

Image courtesy of Jacob Bøtte and Bjoertvedt, Wikimedia Commons

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.