Working Party on Deep Geological Repositories and Nuclear Liability (WPDGR)
A meeting of the Working Party on Deep Geological Repositories and Nuclear Liability (WPDGR) (September 2018)

Many NEA member countries are engaged in the development of deep geological repositories (DGRs) for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The scientific consensus today is that DGRs are a safe and effective approach to permanently disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes. However, the specificities of DGRs, including their unusually long lifecycle, may raise certain questions regarding the application of the nuclear civil liability regimes to such installations.

In 2016, the Nuclear Law Committee (NLC) therefore established the Working Party on Deep Geological Repositories and Nuclear Liability (WPDGR), with a view to assess how the existing nuclear liability regimes should apply to DGR projects. At present, the WPDGR has been given the mandate to:  

  • enhance the common understanding of radioactive waste long-term behaviour and nuclear liability regimes among legal and technical experts;
  • assess the technical and radiological aspects of DGRs that must be taken into account when addressing nuclear liability issues;
  • examine and assess how nuclear liability regime(s) should be applied to DGRs throughout the pre- and post-closure phases, as well as related financial security and insurance, taking into account the current management practices for radioactive waste; and
  • assess whether the outcomes agreed for DGRs could also be applied to near-surface disposal facilities.

Reflecting the holistic nature of its mission, the WPDGR is composed of experts in the fields of nuclear civil liability, radioactive waste management and radiological protection from NEA member countries, as well as of representatives of the European Commission and of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Several WPDGR members are also delegates within the NLC, Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) and Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH).

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