The cornerstone of South Africa’s approach to addressing radioactive waste management issues is the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy for the Republic of South Africa.
The strategic intent of this Policy and Strategy is to ensure a comprehensive radioactive waste governance framework by formulating, in addition to nuclear and other applicable legislation,
a policy and implementation strategy in consultation with all role-players and stakeholders. The development of the national policy and strategy was initiated by the Department of Minerals and Energy during May 2000.
Following a process of national public consultation, the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy for the Republic of South Africa (Policy and Strategy) was published in November 2005.
The Policy and Strategy serves as a national commitment to address radioactive waste management in a coordinated and cooperative manner and represents a comprehensive radioactive waste governance framework by formulating, in addition to nuclear and other applicable legislation, a policy and implementation strategy developed in consultation with all stakeholders
The Policy and Strategy outlines the main policy principles that the Republic of South Africa will endeavour to implement through its institutions, in order to achieve the overall policy objectives, and is founded on the belief that all nuclear resources in the Republic of South Africa are a national asset and the heritage of its entire people. Therefore, these resources should be managed and developed for the benefit of both present and future generations in the country as a whole.
The Policy and Strategy defines the respective roles of government, regulators, waste generators and operators. It furthermore provides for the development of institutional and financial arrangements to implement long-term waste management solutions in a safe, environmentally sound, comprehensive, cost-effective and integrated manner.
The scope of the Policy and Strategy relates to all radioactive waste and potential radioactive waste (including used fuel), with the exception of operational radioactive liquid and gaseous effluent discharges, which are permitted to be released into the environment routinely under the authority of the relevant regulators (National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) and the Directorate Radiation Control in the Department of Health).
The Policy and Strategy makes provision for the establishment of two management structures for radioactive waste management, in the form of the National Committee on Radioactive waste Management (NCRWM), and the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute (NRWDI). The role of the NCRWM is to advise the Minister and oversee the effective implementation of policy, while the NRWDI will be the implementing body with the direct responsibility for the siting, construction and operation of radioactive waste disposal and related facilities. The policy also calls for the National Radioactive Waste Management Fund to be established via the statutes, in order to manage the radioactive waste disposal institute funds at national level.
The following diagram summaries the governance framework for the management of radioactive waste in South Africa: