On 31 Januray 2013, ONDRAF/NIRAS, the Belgian Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials, has introduced the construction and operation license application for the surface disposal facility for category A waste at Dessel. The objective of this paper is to present the development of this national programme.
First the key milestones and their impact on the development of the project will be highlighted. This includes in particular: 1) the turning point in 1994, when ONDRAF/NIRAS converts its purely techno-scientific work method into an approach of participation that allows for societal aspects to be taken into account and 2) the decision of the government in 2006 in favour of the surface disposal of category A waste in Dessel.
Then the paper presents the pillars of the long-term safety of a surface disposal and the principles for site selection and how they were applied to the surface disposal facility for category A waste at Dessel. The pillars of the long-term safety of a surface disposal are: (1) the passive confinement and isolation provided by the Engineering Barrier System, (2) the contribution to this passive isolation and confinement by the site, (3) the limitation of the radioactive source term, and (4) the control and monitoring measures.