EU to propose radioactive waste law by year-end

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The European Commission will table a legislative proposal on the treatment of radioactive waste before the end of the year, commission president José Manuel Barroso told a conference on nuclear energy in Paris on Monday.

Energy commissioner Günther Oettinger hinted at legislation on nuclear waste management at a European Parliament hearing in January. He said setting the "highest possible" safety standards for disposal would be a priority. "Further costs cannot be a consideration," he warned.

Waste disposal is a major issue for Europeans, Mr Barroso said on Monday. But it is also controversial because nobody wants a waste storage facility in their vicinity. Spain recently renewed efforts to find a site for a €700m temporary storage
facility. The plan had been delayed because of local opposition.

The commission president also said the EU would push for more stringent rules on nuclear safety worldwide. "Whether it is climate change, the financial markets or nuclear safety, the European Union wants to take the initiative and engage with our partners," Mr Barroso told the conference.

The EU adopted a new directive on nuclear safety in June last year. The law sets EU binding safety standards based on guidelines and principles set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Member states that do not comply will face legal action, the commission said at the time.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy called on the World Bank and other financial institutions to finance nuclear projects. These projects should also be financed through Kyoto's CDM mechanism, he said. It is a "scandal" that the CDM is open to all low carbon technologies except nuclear, the president added.

The Paris conference will run until Tuesday. The objective is to promote the use of nuclear energy across the world to address issues such as climate change and energy security. The conference will be followed by a summit on nuclear safety in Washington DC on 12-13 April.

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