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Strategic cooperation sets the scene for geological disposal of nuclear waste in Europe

s the option for final disposal of spent fuel or the high-level waste from reprocessing.

This recommendation points out that other alternatives have been carefully studied in the past and discarded by the international scientific and technical community, such as: launching the nuclear waste into the space, ocean dumping, disposal under continental glaciers, sub-seabed disposal and long-term supervised storage.

In addition, the committee pointed out that even if the high-level waste volumes (and long-term radiotoxicity) decrease with partitioning and transmutation, there will still be ultimate wastes remaining that will require geological disposal.

The principles behind this recommendation are:

  • Geological disposal provides a unique level and duration of protection for high activity long-lived radioactive waste;
  • The overwhelming scientific consensus world-wide is that it is technically feasible;
  • It can be accommodated in a broad range of geological settings.

In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published various reports with guidelines for sitting geological repositories and their safety requirements.

Challenges ahead

There are scientific, technological, social and political challenges ahead, as expressed within the IGD-TP vision document. Extensive research, development and demonstration (RD&D) work has been carried out as part of national programmes and with significant support from the Euratom Framework Programmes (some 300M over 25 years). As a European Commission Joint Research Centre report has highlighted, the continuation of R&D activities in certain areas is not a sign of immaturity or lack of confidence, but an effort to reinforce the validity of decisions or to further increase safety margins.

Remaining scientific and technical challenges include:

  • the further reduction in uncertainties regarding the predictions on the repo

Contact: Elena Gonzlez Verdesoto
European Commission Joint Research Centre

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