Czech Republic shortlists geological repository sites

22 December 2020

The Czech Cabinet has approved a shortlist of four potential sites for a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive nuclear waste. The government also approved a new schedule calling for the site to be selected by 2030, five years later than originally planned. The repository is expected to be operational by 2065.

(Image: Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade)

Following the Cabinet meeting on 21 December, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said the four sites are: Hrádek and Horka, which are in the central region of the country; Březový potok, in the south west; and Janoch near the Temelín nuclear power plant. The government approved the four locations that were recommended in June as the most suitable of nine potential sites reviewed by the Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SÚRAO).

"I'm pleased that we've managed to complete many years of work by dozens of experts, especially in the fields of geology, hydrogeology, nuclear and chemical engineering, construction and environmental protection," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček.

"The complex process of narrowing the number of sites was assessed positively by both the State Office for Nuclear Safety and an independent [body]. We have ended a period of long-term uncertainty for five sites. I am aware of the sensitivity of the whole process and a lot of questions from the public, which is why we are in direct contact with the four sites and want to be as transparent as possible and strengthen mutual trust. I believe that we will be able to live up to our joint commitments and responsibilities to ensure the end of the fuel cycle and find the final location for storage that best meets strict criteria, but above all safety."

The shortlist takes the Czech Republic to the same stage as Canada, Sweden and Switzerland, among those countries planning for the deep geological disposal of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste, said Jan Prachař, director of SÚRAO.

"Even after the narrowing down to four, SÚRAO wants to continue the transparent and open communication towards the selected sites. Municipalities will be offered the establishment of special working groups, through which they can participate in the debate about the final form and location of the surface area of the repository. At the same time, it will be a format for the regular transmission of information about on-going work."

Used nuclear fuel is currently stored at the Temelín and Dukovany nuclear plants, which are both operated by state majority-owned utility ČEZ Group.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News