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IAEA Mission Finds Effective Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste in the Netherlands for Current Needs

The Hague, The Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has established an effective programme for managing its spent fuel and radioactive waste for its current needs, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review mission. The Government of the Netherlands, the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) and the Central Organization of Radioactive Waste (COVRA) have demonstrated a commitment to safety, innovation and openness.

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) review team concluded a ten-day mission to the Netherlands on 28 November. The mission was requested by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to support the Netherlands’ obligations under a European Union directive for independent reviews of national frameworks and programmes for managing radioactive waste and spent fuel.

The ARTEMIS team considered the findings from the June 2023 Integrated Regulatory Review Service, which assessed the country’s overall nuclear regulatory framework. Together, the two reviews comprehensively evaluated the Netherlands’ legal and governmental framework and regulatory infrastructure for nuclear safety and waste management.

The Netherlands’ policy on radioactive waste is connected to the country’s policy on radiation protection, which protects individuals, society and the environment against the risks of exposure to ionizing radiation. The Netherlands has one central storage facility for radioactive waste (COVRA), one nuclear power reactor in operation, one nuclear power plant in safe shutdown, two research reactors and one enrichment plant. By 2040, two new nuclear power plants, a research reactor and an installation for medical isotope production are expected to start operation.

Spent fuel from the Netherlands’ Borssele nuclear power plant is reprocessed in France, and the radioactive waste generated during this process is returned to the Netherlands for storage at COVRA. The spent fuel from the research reactors is directly stored at COVRA.

“The Netherlands established a waste management system that provides for the safe management of radioactive waste based on the current activities,” said Janez Perko, ARTEMIS Team Leader and Senior Researcher at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK CEN.

The ARTEMIS review team noted that the Netherlands is committed to continuous improvement for the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. The team also identified recommendations, including:

  • The Government should enhance the national policy and strategy related to disposal.
  • The ANVS should enhance the regulatory framework concerning waste characterization.
  • COVRA should proceed from the existing waste specifications to waste acceptance criteria for the management of radioactive waste.

"The mission team has provided us with useful and constructive recommendations that will really help us in the Netherlands to further improve our radioactive waste management policy,” said Vivianne Heijnen, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, responsible for nuclear safety and radiation protection in the Dutch government. “We are currently updating our National Programme on Radioactive Waste, and this process will benefit from incorporating the ARTEMIS review mission’s suggestions. In the updated Programme, we will also launch a roadmap that will be a good basis to further implement the suggestions from the ARTEMIS review mission, for example, about final disposal and dismantling.”

The ARTEMIS review team comprised six experts from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany and Romania, and three IAEA staff members and one observer from the European Commission.

“I am confident that recommended improvements related to the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, such as an enhanced policy and strategy, will be considered and implemented,” said Hildegarde Vandenhove, IAEA Director of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.

The final report from the review will be provided to the Government of the Netherlands in two months.


ARTEMIS is an integrated expert review service for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes. This service is intended for facility operators and organizations responsible for radioactive waste management, as well as for regulators, national policy makers and other decision makers.

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. IAEA documents, such as Nuclear Energy Series publications, are also included in the review basis. They include practical examples to be used by owners and operators of utilities, implementing organizations, academia and government officials in Member States, among others.

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