Italy begins search for national radwaste storage site

29 January 2021

A list of 67 potential sites for a radioactive waste storage facility has been published by Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari SpA (Sogin), the Italian state-owned company responsible for dismantling the country's nuclear power plants. The publication of the list on 5 January, announced in five national newspapers, started a period of public consultation.

A total of 67 potential host locations have been identified (Image: Sogin)

Following approval by the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE) and the Ministry of the Environment and Protection of the Territory and the Sea (MATTM), Sogin published the National Charter of Potentially Suitable Areas (CNAPI) to host the national radioactive waste store and a technological park. It also released all the documents related to the project.

The 67 potential sites are located in seven regions: Piedmont, Tuscany, Lazio, Puglia, Basilicata, Sardinia and Sicily. Sogin said the locations "are not all equivalent to each other but have different degrees of priority depending on the characteristics." It added the locations listed resulted from "a complex selection process on a national scale" carried out by Sogin in accordance with the criteria set by the National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ISIN).

The planned surface-level waste store and technology park will be built in an area of about 150 hectares, of which 110 are dedicated to the repository and 40 to the park. The store will have the capacity to hold about 78,000 cubic meters of very low and low-level radioactive waste, as well as about 17,000 cubic meters of intermediate and high-level waste, pending the availability of a deep geological repository suitable for its disposal. The technology park will be a research centre, open to international cooperation, where activities in the energy, waste management and sustainable development fields can be carried out.

Publication of the potential host sites has started a two-month phase of public consultation of the documents. This will be followed over the following four months by a national debate involving the participation of local authorities, trade associations, trade unions, universities and research bodies. During this phase, all aspects of the proposed facility will be analysed, including the possible economic benefits and related territorial development.

Sogin will then update the CNAPI, which will again be submitted for consideration by ISIN, MiSE, MATTM and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Based on these opinions, MiSE will validate the definitive version of the National Charter of Eligible Areas (CNAI). Following the publication of the CNAI, municipalities will be able to submit expressions of interest in hosting the storage facility.

Italy's radioactive waste is currently stored in about 20 temporary sites, which are not suitable for final disposal. In addition to waste generated through the operation and decommissioning of its fuel cycle facilities and nuclear power plants, it includes radioactive wastes from medical, industrial and research activities.

"The transfer of radioactive waste to a single structure will ensure safety for both the population and the environment, and will comply with European Directives, aligning Italy with countries that have similar repositories in operation, many of them for a long time," Sogin said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News