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delays in their plans for geological disposal of HLW. The study committee includes scientists from several nations, as well as a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, and the study has addressed both the societal and the technical aspects of HLW management. In particular, the study addresses the questions of whether and when to implement disposal of HLW through geological isolation, rather than focusing exclusively on how to implement geological disposal. This report is intended to provide elected officials and policymakers, interested parties among the public, and those professionally involved with HLW with an informative overview and with specific insights to aid planning and decision making.

The study committee, with assistance from representatives of the agencies sponsoring the study, organized and held a workshop in November 1999, which was attended by more than 200 experts from 17 countries. The study committee has used the deliberations at the workshop and other sources of information available to it to prepare this report. This Executive Summary provides concise statements of the principal findings, conclusions, and recommendations in the report. Chapter 1 serves as an introduction, and Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 provide expanded but focused discussion of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 through Chapter 9 provide additional information supporting the discussion in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. Because of the international focus of this study, the recommendations in this report are not specific to any country and are not addressed to any given agency.


The following brief discussion presents the committee's principal findings and conclusions, which are described in detail in Chapter 2.

  • Today's growing inventory of HLW requires attention by national decision makers. The present situation in the management of radioactive wastes worldwide is one in which—with some important exceptions—safety and security are being achieved by storage, often at or near the facility that produced the waste. Although quantities are minor compared with toxic wastes from other industrial activities, the inventories, particularly of spent fuel, are increasing in many countries beyond the capacity that can be stored in existing facilities. Measures must be taken to deal with this. Moreover, a segment of the public holds concerns and fears that radioactive wastes present an unmanageable threat. The challenge is not just to identify options that are deemed suitable by the technical experts, but also to assure that the decision processes and waste management technologies chosen have broad public support.

  • The feasible options are monitored storage on or near the earth's surface and geological disposition. Safe and secure surface storage is

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