The Historical Evolution of Decommissioning
For many years, as the nuclear industry at large flourished with the comfortable support of the public opinion, decommissioning was a far-fetched subject. Nobody likes to think of old age diseases and death as long as one is in the prime of life. And yet, the 1950s and 1960s were the years when the huge nuclear legacy that currently afflicts many countries started to be produced. Like individuals who miss to stipulate a life insurance when they are young, and find out unpleasantly that such an insurance would be very costly to stipulate when they are old, so happened to the nuclear industry. To spend less money earlier means to spend much more at later times. This chapter uses the number of references given in the IAEA INIS database as an indicator of general interest in nuclear decommissioning: it is evident that the interest grew very rapidly until a feeling was reached that decommissioning was a mature industry. From that time on the interest is not especially sustained by Research and Development activities, but by the ever growing number of nuclear facilities that are permanently shut down and under decommissioning.
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