The EU has set out strict carbon reduction targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN SDGs. As part of this, the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy determines the eligibility of technologies and industry sectors to receive sustainable finance investments, based on their contributions to meeting EU carbon reduction targets.
Out of date information on nuclear waste management jeopardised EDF from being able to secure sustainable funding from the EU. EDF approached Arup to undertake in-depth research and studies into waste management using a number of approaches. This looked at the industry across the EU and UK with the aim to support EDF to access sustainable investment funding to be made available to the nuclear sector.
For new nuclear build, the taxonomy review concluded that whilst the nuclear industry has clear low carbon credentials, there was a lack of certainty over the management of legacy wastes, preventing its inclusion within the EU sustainable financing criteria. This conclusion from the EU goes against over 70 years of best practice and continuous improvement in radioactive waste management techniques and an excellent safety track record that is a source of pride within the sector. With this decision made, it would prevent any sustainable funding being unlocked for the nuclear sector.
A global review
EDF approached our nuclear specialists to undertake two pieces of work on an independent basis. The first piece of work saw Arup independently review global and UK practices in the management of radioactive wastes, including spent fuels to determine if there was any evidence of these practices causing harm.
Our approach saw us undertake thorough reviews and studies and run and manage the chairing of a workshop with experts in the field both from academia and the sector to get accurate input and feedback. The workshops took place virtually during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Arup team supporting EDF 100% virtually throughout the entire study. The teams adapted as quickly as possible to changing conditions from the pandemic, utilising digital technology and strong stakeholder management skills to ensure the workshops were run efficiently and effectively.
Creating new guidance on nuclear waste management
Upon completion of the review, the next phase of the project saw our team produce a guide on how all hazards are safely managed. This in-depth guide explores how all hazards associated with nuclear power are regulated by an extensive range of national and international legislation. Our independent and unbiased review allowed us to look at this clearly and back up findings and outline within the guidance:
A strong foundation of scientific evidence
An outline of strict independent regulation
Clear monitoring and assessment protocols to ensure there is no significant harm in the future.
Our thorough review into nuclear waste management equipped EDF with the right information to submit the findings to various member states and contacts within the European Commission to demonstrate the sector is more than compliant and in a strong position to benefit from sustainable funding.