The specialist company COVRA, which stores radioactive waste in the port area near Vlissingen, must pay more attention to the risks of flooding and earthquakes in the environmental report of a new building. The Environmental Impact Assessment Committee issues this opinion.
The independent committee believes that with the current information, it is not possible to determine whether natural disasters have been sufficiently taken into account in the design.
The 100% state-owned Central Radioactive Waste Organization (COVRA) stores nuclear waste from various sources near Vlissingen. For example, highly radioactive waste from the nearby Borssele nuclear power plant is stored in a special building. The company also stores less radioactive waste from hospitals and laboratories, for example. COVRA wants to erect a new building for waste in the ‘low’ and ‘medium’ radioactive categories.
The committee considers it “logical” not to use the existing building for the storage of less radioactive waste. The committee also sees no problem with the new building for normal business operations. The expected environmental effects will then be “very minor” and “comparable to the current situation”, according to the judgment.
However, the claimant did not delve sufficiently into possible disasters, according to experts who assessed the environmental impact assessment. The report briefly states that the risk of flooding is extremely low and that if things go wrong, only “very low doses” of radiation would be released. However, the committee considers that there is no justification. Also, with respect to assessors, the applicant should elaborate on the increasing likelihood of flooding over the next 100 years. The risk increases due to climate change: because the earth is warming, the sea level is rising.
The opinion is that the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Authority (ANVS) should only take a decision once it has been better motivated. It also deals with nitrogen release during construction. The commission does not foresee any immediate problems in this regard, although use has been made of the construction exemption which was canceled by the Council of State at the end of last year. As a safety measure, the Committee therefore recommends recalculating the nitrogen deposits in the neighboring nature reserve and taking action if necessary.
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