Addressing key priority R&I issues for the first-of-the-kind geological repositories
There is a broad consensus in Europe and worldwide that a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) is the safest practical solution for the final disposal of high- and intermediate-level long-lived ultimate radioactive waste, including vitrified waste from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, spent fuel if this is considered waste in national programmes, and possibly other long-lived wastes. Thanks to a concerted and long-term strategy, Europe has acquired a clear leadership in this domain and will host the world's first such repositories, which are expected to become operational around 2020-2025. However, there still are some key technological issues to be resolved for this to become reality.
This action will address key R&I issues in view of the construction and operation in the EU of the first DGRs, notably with respect to validating data and performance. The focus should be on topics of high priority and European added value that were raised in safety reviews and identified in the SRA of IGD-TP. These concern notably the disposal of new and unconventional fuels, the validation of the properties of engineered barrier materials and the confirmation of the integrated performance of engineered barrier systems. A further goal is to identify the aspects of these first EU DGR projects that could be amenable to the transfer of knowledge and technology to other countries or regions with less mature programmes, and therefore the action should also involve a mechanism of communicating results to these countries in the most effective way.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from Euratom of between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Proposals for topics NFRP 6 to 8 will be ranked in a single ranking list.
This action will contribute to further progress in resolving remaining technological innovation issues important in the actual implementation of the planned DGRs in the EU, thereby consolidating the EU leadership in this domain. The involvement of countries with less mature programmes alongside the more advanced programmes will stimulate and foster the cooperation amongst EU Member States and associated countries in this important domain and hence facilitate steps towards decision making and implementation of DGRs in other Member States and associated countries.