With the introduction of a nuclear power program in South Africa during the 1970’s it was realized that radioactive waste will have to be managed and that will require a national site for the disposal of the country’s nuclear waste.
In November 2005 Cabinet approved and published the radioactive waste management policy and strategy, which identified the need for the implementation of an independent radioactive waste disposal institute.
The national radioactive waste disposal institute act (no. 53 of 2008) was drafted and became effective on the 1st December 2009 endorsing the establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute (NRWDI).
The management of radioactive waste disposal on a national basis is assigned to the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute.
The Institute is an independent entity established by statute under the provision of
section 55(2) of the Nuclear Energy Act (No. 46 of 1999)
to fulfil the institutional obligation of the Minister of Energy.
As a public entity, NRWDI is also governed by the Public Finance Management Act, Act 1 of 1999 (as amended by Act 29 of 1999), and it is listed as Schedule 3A public entity. In order to play its role in accordance with the legislative and regulatory framework and to focus on delivering its mandate, NRWDI has developed specific outcomes and strategic objectives, around which a number of strategic initiatives and on-going operational programmes have been planned (and are being implemented) to address the organisation’s responsibilities and obligations.
The functions of the Institute as per Section 5 of the NRWDI Act (Act 53 of 2008) are summarised as follows:
The majority of the above functions are currently performed within the scope of Low Level Waste (LLW) inventories. In future, the scope would need to be extended to address the national inventory of radioactive waste consisting of Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), High Level Waste (HLW), long-lived waste, spent/used nuclear fuel and disused sealed radioactive sources.
This implies that alternative disposal concepts would have to be researched, designed and implemented. It is also possible that alternative disposal sites would need to be obtained, characterised, constructed and operated.